What kind of documentation did you receive when you joined your fire department? Was it thorough, clear, and concise? Did it answer all of your questions about what would be expected of you or did it leave you wondering with information unclear?
Was the information well organized and presented or was it scribbled on a bar napkin over a couple of "pops" at the firehouse.
Other than the application, was there any documentation at all? Or did you just have to rely on what they told you during your interview with the membership committee or on what the existing members told you? Did you really know what you were in for?
If prepared and distributed properly, a "Prospective Member Guide" can be an effective tool for several reasons.
The primary purpose of the Prospective Member Guide should be just what the title says: guide the prospect towards membership in your organization. Provide them with core information about your fire department that they need to make an effective decision about whether or not joining is right for them.
A typical outline of a prospect guide could include (but not limited to) the following elements:
- A letter from the fire chief - The chief is in charge and should set the tone for the membership - even before they're members. This is an important piece and requires extensive thought to be effective as an inviting and no-nonsense introductory letter.
- Why volunteer? - A discussion about the different reasons why people join your department. Quickly answer: "What's in it for me?"
- About Us - A brief history and introduction to your organization.
- Organization - An outline of how your department is organized, both for operations and administration. Maybe include an org chart!
- Response - How does your department respond? Many volunteer fire departments respond differently than career departments. Answer the questions of who goes where and who does what?
- Mission Statement - "Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is