HelpUnited is a project we plan to roll out in a few years. We aim to be a watchdog service for the hotline industry and a resource for all hotline volunteers to collaborate and exercise their clout by joining to make recommendations about hotline best practices. Whatever the reasons, we see hundreds of millions of dollars being donated and granted to nonprofits, who repeatedly recreate the same wheel as a misuse of funds designated to direct services. We all know nonprofits that provide identical services could easily merge to reduce executives' pay, rent, equipment, and countless other things. We also all know nonprofits will not likely reduce their inbound cash flow to benefit the common good.
HelpUnited was built to help the hotline industry to develop self-oversight. We are inviting past and present hotline volunteers to join HelpUnited to collaborate in creating best practices that can be recommended to hotline executives. Focusing on hotline budgets by working on not recreating the wheel as new and existing hotlines expand their technologies is critical.
HelpUnited is the outreach arm of #4Help; through initiatives such as National Hotline Volunteers Month, we make people aware of #4Help services while creating opportunities to honor the work of hotline volunteers.
Help United is an opportunity for hotline volunteers to connect. Given that thousands of hotlines and helplines rely on volunteer staff, there should be an organization to combine the voices of every volunteer productively so that the safety, interests, and goals of volunteers are understood and respected by the agencies to whom we donate our time. There are more individuals in need of hotline services than ever. Creating a unified block of volunteers is one way to meet that rising demand.
We are concerned that some agencies in the hotline industry are overly concerned with protecting their brand and generating leads (more leads than some can handle) to the detriment of people in need and new agencies trying to work their way into this super-competitive industry. Whether by design or not, new agencies are discouraged, or massive PPC advertising and investments in powerful SEO slow their entry.
If the hotline industry is so overburdened that it must route callers to smaller agencies to cover, then we must explore who protecting industry shares benefits. Does this practice do a disservice to the people we serve, and are the volunteers often stretched too thin?
We believe the hotline industry is incumbent on the hotline industry since it comprises well-meaning nonprofit and governmental agencies to collaborate. Why should a new agency have to recreate the wheel when they set up their new hotline or helpline?
One area that volunteers can help with is by joining the Help United Setup Team. This team can assist existing and new hotlines with a host of services that will make recreation of the wheel a thing of the past. We can deliver:
— implementation of all required hotline systems,
— programs for best practices and training
— updating the agency's basic operational systems
— providing access to the latest virtual PBX technology
Since volunteers work in all facets of hotline work, we can help set up turn-key services easily.
Because we volunteer for hotline services, we're well positioned to help improve the
services individuals receive in all hotlines. For example, HelpUnited could build a pre-made virtual phone system that would cost less than usual and help reduce the time to answer calls while saving hotlines much money.
HelpUnited, with unified volunteers, can dig deep into the hotline industry to save money and improve services; a few examples are:
— unified training,
— group insurance coverage,
— better protections for volunteers' health and safety,
— programs to help reduce executive and middle management by unifying projects
There is strength in numbers, and genuine change comes by organizing those numbers and reminding them of the clout they carry. HelpUnited has its work cut out for them. Change is hard. Please consider helping us.
Visit helpunited.org, celebrate National Hotline Volunteers Month with us, and select your nomination for hotline volunteer of the year, along with any stories that we can share with the public during NHVM.