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107: Digital Team Building with Remote Volunteers

Time + Talent Podcast

Release Date: 11/18/2019

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Elise Segars from Crisis Text Line shares her experience motivating, inspiring, and building relationships with volunteers that she never meets face to face. We talk about what’s worked, what wasn’t as successful, and how their recognition strategy is designed to ‘surprise and delight’ their volunteers.

At Crisis Text Line, volunteers must complete 30 hours of online training before they are certified to begin work as an online Crisis Counselor. Because Crisis Counselors live all around the U.S. and volunteer from their homes or work using the agency’s platform, Crisis Text Line has had to pay special attention to keeping far flung, virtual volunteers engaged.  They do this by assigning one-on-one Coaches and cultivating a vibrant online community that provides support and a good experience for Crisis Counselors even when their work can be stressful.

Recruitment and Admissions are important departments at Crisis Text Line, because their main focus is around finding strong Crisis Counselor candidates who will be successful in supporting texters. The exciting part of this is that there is no specific profile or characteristic that makes a volunteer successful as a Crisis Counselor, making Crisis Text Line's volunteer base extremely diverse across all demographics. “Clear is kind” is a motto they subscribe to, and they strive to be transparent about expectations for Crisis Counselors.

In terms of volunteer recognition, their goal is to “surprise and delight” their supporters and leave them with a positive feeling at the close of every shift.  This is done through tiers and an online badging system, public online shout outs, and swag mailed to volunteers. They want volunteers to feel as connected as possible to the organization and they are able to achieve this even though most volunteers and staff never meet face to face.

Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering with Crisis Text Line can visit their website at https://www.crisistextline.org/. Anyone who is in immediate need of support can text 741741 to get connected with a trained Crisis Counselor.

To help identify community trends, inform journalists and advocates, and better collaborate on crisis prevention, Crisis Text Line shares its data publicly. To browse aggregate trends in crisis around the U.S., go to https://crisistrends.org/.

 

Guest Bio:

Elise Segars, 

Head of Admissions & Coach,

Crisis Text Line

Elise Segars is the Head of Admissions and a Crisis Counselor Coach at Crisis Text Line. She started as a volunteer Crisis Counselor back in August of 2017, and has worked at the organization full time since January 2018. Her favorite part about working at Crisis Text Line is that she truly feels and witnesses the impact her work makes each day, and she is grateful to be working on the front lines of destigmatizing mental health and supporting people through their most difficult times. Elise has a Bachelors in Human Services and Psychology from Western Washington University, and she grew up in Boulder, CO.

If you want to reach out directly to Elise, you can email her at elise@crisistextline.org.  You can also find Elise on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/elise-segars-bb613476/.