Best Practices/Helpful Hints
Many items in your CR kit are reusable; however, some items, such as brochures, promotional items, tear-off pads, etc., require replenishment from time to time.
Simply contact Mary Ellen Wernimont, 757-318-9174; Email: Maryellen@mercymedicalairlift.org, to request supplies. We ask for as much lead time as possible in order to save on shipping costs, etc. Request replenishment at the time your supply is exhausted vs. the time you agree to work another event. We get little lead time on many event requests, and overnight shipping costs are cost-prohibitive.
The most important thing to concentrate on when representing Airlift Hope of America is to be your normal charming self! However, there are certain tips that can help maximize your experience.
- Inquire in advance if a table and chair will be available for your use or if you need to provide them yourself. It generally is a good idea to take a collapsible chair with you to outdoor events since chairs provided by the event organizers seem to get moved by the general public to other areas.
- Take along small sandbags, bricks or anything else that will help keep display materials from blowing away or being knocked down in the event of windy conditions.
- Tape and extension cords are good additions to your supply kit.
- Keep all extra supplies under the display table and out of sight of the general public and keep an eye on them during events. The public has been known to actually go under display tables and help themselves.
- If working a multiple-day event, it is best to take all supplies and display materials with you at the end of every day.
- Best locations when you have the choice are by food and beverage supplies and raffle drums, etc. Anywhere there is a lot of foot traffic is also ideal.
Drawing People To An Exhibit
- Candy is another big draw! Be sure to keep the candy dish full. Important note, women love chocolate!
- We can guarantee you will not get much play if you simply sit behind the display and wait for people to approach you to inquire about Airlift Hope of America!
- Approaches vary based on the personality of the CR and/or the event. A few suggestions follow:
- Simply greet people passing by and hand out brochures saying, “You never know when you might need an Airlift Hope of America”. If they show interest, you can go on to give more information.
- A slightly more assertive approach is to ask passersby if they know about Airlift Hope of America. Regardless of their answer, explain that it is an organization comprised of volunteer pilots, such as yourself (or reference volunteer pilots working the event with you), who donate their time, talent and all related costs to fly needy patients to distant, specialized, scheduled medical care, diagnosis or evaluation at no charge to the patient and a traveling companion.
- An example always helps (e.g., a child with a rare cancer needs to obtain chemo treatments at Sloan Kettering hospital once a week for 10 weeks; a veteran has to be seen by a specialist at an out-of-state VA hospital for evaluation). Better yet, describe some missions that you flew that really touched your heart!
- It is also important to explain that Airlift Hope of America is NOT emergency airlift or air ambulance. This is the reason we suggest you continue to tell people about Airlift Hope of America even if they say they know all about us. A good opening when this happens is, “Well, then you know that Airlift Hope of America is an organization…….”.
- Ask them to take a brochure as they may require our services in the future or may know someone who can use our services now. This is a good time to explain that Airlift Hope of America is a national network.
- If working a conference or another event where you will make contact with other professionals in the aviation field, ask them for their business card and ask if we can send them some brochures or tabletop displays. Also inquire as to whether there are any aviation related events they are sponsoring or are aware of as opportunities for us to exhibit.
- Individuals who have a need or know someone with a need for charitable air transportation but do not fit into the acceptable patient parameters of an Airlift Hope of America should be directed to NPATH (1-800-296-1217).
- Remember to be your charming self and smile!
- Some folks will ask why funding is required when the pilots pay for the cost of the flight. Your answer should include:
- Sustaining the flight coordination center.
- Providing public awareness through brochures, videos, public service announcements, and other mediums.
- Funding pilot recruitment.
- Supporting charitable commercial airline ticket programs.
- Inquiries on corporate sponsors or sponsorship opportunities should be directed to the regional office (757-318-9174).
- You may be asked how Airlift Hope of America is protected from abuse (i.e., someone just wanting a free ride). Flight coordination screens all patients for financial need. Pilots contact the regional office if they have any suspicion before, during or after any flight, and a thorough investigation is conducted. If abuse has been determined we will NOT transport the passenger back from the location we took them too. Please note, however, that this is an extremely rare occurrence.
- Don’t miss this opportunity to explain that for every $100 donated, $400 worth of air transportation is provided and that only 3% of Airlift Hope of America’s budget is spent on administration and fundraising. That means for every dollar donated, 97 cents goes to ensuring patients will be able to fly for treatment, diagnosis or evaluation.
- Airlift Hope of America does NOT SELL the stuffed aviator bears and dogs. They are promotions for larger donation amounts. Make sure you have the donation information on display with the stuffed animals.
- The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is a major funding source for Airlift Hope of America. It is similar to the United Way but targets military, federal and state personnel. Public outreach is another good reason to attend CFC events.
- Direct soliciting for funds/donations and/or receipt of such at CFC events is strictly prohibited.
- Always inquire in advance, at any type of event you are working, if it is permissible to place a donation jar at your display.
- Send full donation jars to the regional office after the event. If it contains only a handful of change, retain it to use at the next event where donations are permissible.
- This is probably the easiest initiative for our volunteer pilots to take on! What better way to pass the time than talking to other people who love to fly!
- The major reasons we have learned that pilots volunteer to fly flights are:
- They are going to be bouncing around up in the air anyway so they may as well help others at the same time.
- It is a ministry.
- Tax breaks.
- More opportunity to do something they love to do.
- It helps keep them current for their ratings by flying more hours. (Note: These are also good answers for the general public when they inquire as to why anyone would want to help them for nothing in return. Sometimes people have difficulty understanding why someone would just want to help them without a hidden motivation. You may even have to explain that there are not going to be any surprise bills coming in the mail!).
- Let them know there is NO fee to sign up to become an Airlift Hope of America pilot and that the sign-up and orientation process is simple and efficient.
- Explain how the flight coordination system works and direct them to our web site for more information.
- If one hands you a completed pilot recruitment form, give them a higher level promotional item as a thank you and turn that card into the regional office ASAP!
- HSEATS is another great recruiting tool for pilots. Explain they can sign up just for Homeland Security measures, just for Airlift Hope of America flights or for both. Additional information on HSEATS is available in this handbook and also via the web site.
Recruiting Community Reps
- Don’t forget to talk up the Community Rep program as well. Growing the CR program is one of our major initiatives at the present time.
- This is a great opportunity for those pilots who are not yet qualified to fly flights, who have been grounded due to medical reasons, or who have had to sell their plane or do not have the financial resources to fly flights.
- Mary Ellen Wernimont is the contact person for the CR program. Phone: 757-318-9174; Email: Maryellen@mercymedicalairlift.org
Help Us Help You
- RSVP to CR opportunities as soon as possible. It takes coordination and time at the regional office to handle all the requirements.
- Advise us in advance of initiatives you are going after so we do not have a duplication of effort and can ensure you are representing the correct organization.
- Request supplies when you run out or are getting low, and not right before your next event.
- Complete and submit an Event Documentation Form for every event you work for Airlift Hope of America. This helps us understand which events are the most effective for us to continue with.
- Contact us immediately if you have experienced any difficulty with an event, the event organizers, etc. This will help prevent others from experiencing the same problems.
- Let us know what questions you received that you could not answer or were not comfortable answering. This will help us when updating our training programs and website information.
- We welcome your suggestions for improvements. Let us know what you feel should be added to the CR handbook and training program.
- Visit the CR forum on the Airlift Hope of America web site to receive or provide additional information and to relay suggestions to the regional office.
- Direct people to the website or toll free phone number on the brochures if you are uncertain as to how to answer their question.
- Always prepare in advance for any event. Make sure you know in advance the length of the presentation and practice to ensure you do not go over the allotted time.
- Information on the National Patient Travel Center (NPTC), National Patient Air Transportation Helpline (NPATH), and Homeland Security Emergency Air Transportation System (HSEATS) are located in this handbook. This information can be presented verbally at events for which it is appropriate.
- Check the websites for updated information prior to any event.
- Reference the newest statistics you have and check those outstanding informational monthly emails from Operations to ensure you have the most updated stats to share. Additional updated statistics may be available by contacting the regional office.
- Approaches vary based on the personality of the CR and/or the event. A few suggestions follow: