Student Volunteer Army - 28 February 2011

How to Start a Student Volunteer Army

Five Parts:

The Student Volunteer Army (SVA) is a student-run organization that was formed after the first earthquake in Christchurch, to provide help after the disaster event. Its aim is to make service a part of student lifestyle. To form your own similar organization to assist after a disaster event or for other community support or engagement purposes, this article will help you to know what to do.


Forming a Student Volunteer Army

  1. Contact the Volunteer Army Foundation (VAF).The VAF will then provide you with an academic advisor. He or she will help you to develop your club.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the rules.Recruit a team consisting of at least four members.
  3. Contact the VAF again.Sign a license allowing you to use the SVA brand.
  4. Organize an Inaugural General Meeting.Discuss your ideas and adopt a constitution.
  5. Open a bank account.
  6. Incorporate if possible.It is recommended registering your club as an incorporated society. For example, in New Zealand, see: , for more information on incorporation. Now you are done with the starting process.
  7. Set up a Facebook page, Twitter account and a website.
  8. Report every month to your advisor.Provide progress reports, detailing the requirements as set out in the rules.

Holding events

  1. Hold events to ensure that the members can deliver services to the community.The club should normally hold two to four major events and minor weekend projects throughout the whole year.

Best practice

  1. Learn the best practice for an event.The following steps will detail how to prepare for an event, in what is considered to be the best practice approach.
  2. Be well prepared in advance.You don’t want to waste time of your volunteers or make them feel that their time is wasted. Your volunteers need to feel that they spent their time efficiently and that they did something useful. If they don’t, they won’t come next time. Therefore, if you expect some time lags (i.e. waiting until the paint dries etc.), prepare some other programme for volunteers (could be games or other work).
  3. Contact your city council strengthening community advisor.The community advisor can help you find most urgent issues and problems in the community that the SVA could help to solve.
    • Example of an event: Random Act of Kindness - for one week long, the SVA organizes different events every day to be kind to others at the University of Canterbury.
  4. Identify an understudy in case you get ill at the time of the event.
  5. Confirm everything two weeks before the major event and two days before the weekly project takes place.Confirm the place and sponsors. Make sure everyone from your team is aware of his or her responsibilities for the event.
  6. Develop an event day timeline.
  7. Make students aware of what is within their responsibilities.Some people could be abusing volunteers’ kindness. It is your responsibility to prevent this situation by informing your volunteers about their responsibilities and checking regularly on their work during the project.

During an event

  1. Let the person in charge speak.The President doesn’t need to know everything, but if he/she does not have full knowledge of the course of the event, let another person from your team speak. Otherwise it looks unprofessional when other team members have to correct President in front of volunteers.

After an event

  1. Acknowledge volunteers and ask them to fill in the feedback forms.Send them the forms by email.
  2. Have the President thank the sponsors.Send them an email including results of a project and pictures from the event.
  3. Review your event.

Preparing Before the Annual General Meeting

  1. Start the recruitment campaign five weeks beforehand.Put up posters with the information about the application process and link to your webpage where people can find all the information.
    • Post the information about application process on Facebook.
    • Inform people on Twitter.
    • Publish the “call for application” on your webpage. The information should include a job description of each position, person specification, application deadline and date and place of the interviews.
  2. Receive and screen the applications.It is recommended that you create an email account dealing with applications (for example, ), which would be forwarded to an SVA committee member on the recruitment committee, your Advisor and VAF Representative.
  3. Decide on the applications.After the application deadline, the recruitment committee meets and discusses all the applications and weeds out any that are not appropriate for an interview. The SVA club member on the committee then makes a schedule for interviews and invites the applicants (specifying the time for each of them). Afterwards, the SVA club member thanks and apologizes to those candidates who were not selected for an interview.
  4. Hold the interviews two weeks beforehand.The interviews should be led by one SVA leaving committee member, the Advisor and a VAF representative. Each interview will likely last for 20Z30 minutes.
  5. Alert the President at least one week beforehand.The recruitment committee emails the successful candidate for the President and offers him/her the role before AGM. The President is sworn to secrecy until the AGM.
  6. Give out the other roles at the AGM.All other roles are announced at the AGM. This is to help develop excitement around attending the AGM and is in line with traditional ‘members vote for the committee’ club models. Also, the SVA committee member apologizes to those who didn’t succeed–no “thank you” emails.

Using Social Media Communication


  1. Use Facebook.Post on Facebook at least twice each week. Post the web link to each newsletter. And ensure that at least one post each week is a project. These are usually best posted the day or two before the project is to take place. i.e. usually a Thursday night or Friday during the day.
    • Ensure each post has an accompanying photo or video.
    • On special holidays, events or if a disaster or event happens, the faster you post on Facebook, generally the more likes the post will get.
    • Cute animals, funny trend videos are the most liked posts, relevant quotes are also good.
    • Also post about events in the community that you think your followers will be interested in.
  2. Ensure that photos are taken at all projects.Post these online asap after the project has taken place. Ask people to tag themselves. People like to promote the work they have done, it promote the work that is being completed as well as the page.
  3. Respond to all messages.Be appropriate in all posts, no swearing, there will be people of all religions and races that have liked the page.
  4. Don’t like your own posts.(It looks bad.)


  1. Use Twitter.Regular updates of what’s happening around the office and with projects. Most people get these updates to their phone. It can be used more frequently than Facebook to update people on what you are doing, perhaps a morning tweet saying what projects are on that day, or events (such as awesome evenings) or any media coverage you have had. It could be used as a tool to keep the VAF/SVA on peoples minds constantly?

Dealing with sponsors

  1. Tell sponsors about SVA mission and project(s) in a sponsorship letter.Be passionate about your mission and projects! If you don’t believe your mission and projects neither will your potential sponsors. Try to arrange a personal meeting to further discuss the projects.
  2. Explain the benefits of your projects and what the specific outcomes will be.Show your potential sponsors your plan and the value of your project(s).
  3. Give potential sponsors a detailed budget so they can see exactly where their money goes.
  4. Consider what your sponsors get out of the event.Offer something in exchange for their money.
  5. Remember that you are not begging!You are offering an investment into the community.
    • An example of your approach: “I have come to you with an opportunity to assist in the solution of a community problem…”
  6. Focus on building relationships–see sponsors as potential partners to address the mission of your organization.Once donors are pleased with the results of their contribution, partnership may evolve naturally.
  7. Be creative and strategic in your sponsorship proposal, the competition is extensive.
  8. Do sufficient research on the sponsors you want to contact.
  9. Decide early on whether you'd prefer in-­kind contributions. You need to identify early on, which needs can be filled with in‐kind contributions and which have to be filled with cash contributions. Approaching companies for cash donations versus in-­kind contributions requires a slightly different approach.
  10. Have the President ask the Webmaster to acknowledge the sponsors on the SVA website.However, the SVA logo must always be larger than the logo of your sponsors.
  11. Have the President thank all of the sponsors after each project via an email.Be sure to send them pictures of the event, highlighting their input and thanking them for their part in the project's success.

Video: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the Student Volunteer Army Youth Summit

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Date: 10.12.2018, 02:12 / Views: 93183