If you would like to start a volunteer transportation program in Massachusetts, these resources may help you.
Volunteer Driver Practice Briefs
These reports share best practices and lessons learned from volunteer driver programs in Massachusetts.
Toolkit: Resources for Volunteer Driver Programs
- National Volunteer Transportation Center
- National Center for Mobility Management volunteer driver materials
- Community Transportation Association of America
- National Center on Senior Transportation Report on Volunteer Transportation
- Paratransit Watch
- National Aging and Disability Transportation Center
Examples from Wellesley
See below for sample resources developed by the Wellesley Council on Aging containing information about screening and training volunteers.
Liability and Insurance
Driver liability is one of the biggest perceived concerns when creating a volunteer driver program. The presentations below offer some guidance, but each organization should check with its own insurance carrier to find out what coverage options are available. No matter what an organization purchases in terms of liability insurance, drivers who use their automobiles in the course of volunteer service are covered by their own personal auto insurance policy first, with an organization’s policy providing secondary coverage.
- CIMA's Volunteers Insurance Service was established over 40 years ago to address the accident and liability concerns that have been shared by many volunteers, would-be volunteers, and the nonprofit organizations that use their help.
- Risk, Liability and Loss Experiences of Volunteer Driver Services - a survey of 53 programs in 24 states and found that none of the programs had experienced liability losses. Many people find this article useful when engaging town administrators or agency management in conversation about implementing a new volunteer driver program.
- Volunteer Driver Programs: What’s the Risk?
- Volunteer Driver Programs: Insurance 101
- Volunteer Driver Programs: Examples from the Field
- TRB presentation on insurance and liability
Massachusetts organizations usually run a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) search on any volunteer. Some organizations also verify that the volunteer has adequate personal auto insurance and check that the volunteer’s vehicle has passed a safety inspection. Organizations can also ask a driver to request their driving records from the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers
Volunteer drivers come from a variety of backgrounds. Many programs in Massachusetts recruit through placing notices in the local newspaper, which will sometimes run them for free, or through advertising for volunteers in the Council on Aging newsletter. To support their volunteers, programs often address some of the challenges faced by volunteer drivers (such as the rising cost of gas and wear on one’s vehicle) by offering mileage reimbursement or a small stipend to offset the cost to the volunteer.
Guidance on how to plan your volunteer recruitment and retention strategy:
- Handbook on Volunteer Driver Recruitment and Retention – from the National Volunteer Transportation Center
- Recruitment of Volunteers in Transportation Programs – helpful questions to think about when building a volunteer corps
Websites where your organization can connect with volunteers:
- Senior Corps' Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) offers volunteers pre-service orientation training. All RSVP volunteers are also covered by a supplemental liability insurance policy while on duty.
- Volunteer Match and Idealist are free services that allow you to search for volunteer opportunities as well as post a need for a volunteer.
A strong continuing training component is an important element of a successful volunteer program. In addition to general volunteer training, consider driver skills refresher, passenger assistance, cultural competency, and other important topics.