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Volunteer doula programs

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I have recently started a volunteer program where I match teens and low income moms with birth professionals.  I have volunteers that are childbirth educators, new parent educators, postpartum doulas, birth doulas, and mentors.  I would love to talk to anyone who works for a volunteer doula program or who runs one.  Would love to know how you work the birth doula part?  I have a good number of birth doulas (six in total), but am very worried that once we go more live with our program that we will not have enough doulas to fulfill the role.  I am not concerned about the other areas, but the birth doula area really concerns me.

 

Right now with the program I have no doulas that I can directly pair with mothers, because all of the doulas are stay at home moms or women who work so they cannot give the total dedication to a direct pairing.  They want to volunteer, but might only have a day or two or three free each month so I came up with call schedules - meaning they are on call for 24 hours and if we have a mom in labor then they are on call then they will go to be with her.  I know that isn't ideal, but I am so grateful for the time that the doulas are able to give to the mothers because the reality is they wouldn't be able to have a doula if it weren't for the doulas that are willing to volunteer.  

 

The biggest problem I have right now is getting the calendar covered (don't get me wrong I am so grateful to each doula that takes call), but I simply don't have enough of them.  In April it looks like I will be taking 20 days of call and while the chances are slim I will get called in I am also very worried about it.  So I would love to hear how other programs work to see if I can tweek mine to either bring in more doulas or distribute the call differently or whatever.  I did just run it by the group about shortening the shifts to 12 hours because maybe some can do nights after their partners get home, etc but haven't heard back from anyone yet.  

 

I did just apply to become a non profit but we are waiting on that status.  Once that is done I do plan on applying for grants to pay everyone and if those come through then I think I will have more doulas available, but still need to figure this out for right now on how I can get it flowing smoothly.

post #2 of 28

While not volunteer I am a part of and run a group practice.

We used to do 24 hour call shifts and we had a program with a local hospital that allowed them to page us when they had a client who wanted or needed a doula and were there in labor or being induced, etc.

 

The staffing, as you are learning, is going to be a huge issue.  You'll either have to compromise on your overall goals and quality of care or find doulas who are willing to commit to one on one assignments. 


What are your goals?

12 hour shifts might sound good in theory, but it's really hard on the doulas and especially the clients when they have to change shifts during labor. 

 

You might have to limit the number of slots you have available each month to clients.  So if you have 6 doulas but they can only fill say 10 slots (since you're saying that you're taking 20) it's gonna be a huge issue.  We're looking at trying to put a program into another hospital right now and staffing is the biggest issue.  We have doulas who can't participate in our group as it is now, but would like to do a few shifts a month, but that just won't work for the program.

 

Burnout rate for this type of program and serving that population is HIGH, like extremely high.  Especially when unpaid.

 

PM me if you want to talk further.

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info.  The good thing is that offering doulas isn't the only thing that we do and not our main focus.

post #4 of 28

Wish I was closer, I'd definitely want to be one of your doulas! nod.gif

post #5 of 28

This sounds amazing! I would love to but I am in Michigan! Where are you? 

I think teens and low income women need doulas the most...teens are so often subject to bullying during labor. As a young mom I felt a lot of criticism from my OB because of my age (which is why a switched to a midwife). That would be wonderful if you are able to get a grant. Good luck!

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zenmumajen View Post

This sounds amazing! I would love to but I am in Michigan! Where are you? 

I think teens and low income women need doulas the most...teens are so often subject to bullying during labor. As a young mom I felt a lot of criticism from my OB because of my age (which is why a switched to a midwife). That would be wonderful if you are able to get a grant. Good luck!



I am in Southeastern Wisconsin.  I completely agree - teens are bullied in labor.  Happened to me 23 yrs ago and it was horrible!!  You are lucky you switched.  

 

The attorney I talked to about the whole thing seemed to think there are lots of opportunities for grants for the population I am working with because this area has a lot of teen pregnancy, but she warned me that applying for grants is hard work :)

post #7 of 28

I founded a nonprofit organization in southeastern Michigan back in 1999. One way that we attracted volunteers was to attract newly trained doulas who wanted to complete certification requirements by providing support to expectant moms and/or new families. I wrote about founding the nonprofit, lessons learned running a nonprofit, doula program models, and grant writing to fund doula programs in my book, The Doula Business Guide--Creating a Successful MotherBaby Business. It might be a good resource for you. All the best ... Patty Brennan www.center4cby.com

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattybrennan View Post

I founded a nonprofit organization in southeastern Michigan back in 1999. One way that we attracted volunteers was to attract newly trained doulas who wanted to complete certification requirements by providing support to expectant moms and/or new families. I wrote about founding the nonprofit, lessons learned running a nonprofit, doula program models, and grant writing to fund doula programs in my book, The Doula Business Guide--Creating a Successful MotherBaby Business. It might be a good resource for you. All the best ... Patty Brennan www.center4cby.com


Thank you for the info.  Maybe when I have a little spare cash I will be able to buy your book.  Right now between the non profit stuff and my schooling I just don't have spare cash to buy a book :(

 

post #9 of 28

I'd love to hear more about your program as it progresses, particularly the grant-money end of things. Our doula group was talking last night about more ways to serve low-income moms and we're trying to come up with fundraising ideas.

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post

I'd love to hear more about your program as it progresses, particularly the grant-money end of things. Our doula group was talking last night about more ways to serve low-income moms and we're trying to come up with fundraising ideas.



Will do :)  So far we are still waiting to hear about our nonprofit status.  Once that comes through then we will start looking into grants because a lot of them want you to be nonprofit prior to applying.  

post #11 of 28

I don't run a program, but I volunteer for an organization called the Terra Society. They are a support network for pregnant and parenting teens. I found them through a local alternative parenting periodical. If you have one, could you place an ad?

 

Does your city have a local Doula Association? Here, we have a nice network of local doulas that meet monthly. Do you have a group like that that you could canvass for volunteers? Perhaps you could contact someone with DONA or CAPPA and see if they could refer any new or training doulas to you. It could be a win-win situation: you get the volunteers you need and they get the experience.

post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsVyky View Post

I don't run a program, but I volunteer for an organization called the Terra Society. They are a support network for pregnant and parenting teens. I found them through a local alternative parenting periodical. If you have one, could you place an ad?

 

Does your city have a local Doula Association? Here, we have a nice network of local doulas that meet monthly. Do you have a group like that that you could canvass for volunteers? Perhaps you could contact someone with DONA or CAPPA and see if they could refer any new or training doulas to you. It could be a win-win situation: you get the volunteers you need and they get the experience.

We do have a local doula association and unfortunately not many of the doulas are willing to volunteer.  Sadly our economy is impacting whether people have the means to do this.  I contacted the local DONA trainer and she didn't refer anyone.  She said she would but when I recently met up with someone who just took her training the woman didn't know anything about it.  Although I will admit that I won't take just anyone either.  Doulas and birth professionals who are representing us need to be willing to provide quality care.  I won't take someone on just because they are a body to fill a slot.  

 

I know that once we get our nonprofit status and then hopefully grants then I won't have problems finding doulas at all.  I can't tell you how many of the local doulas have told me that they will come and help out once I can pay them.  

 

The truth of the matter is that right now our focus isn't only on doulas so that helps.  
 

 

post #13 of 28
I'm not wanting to be a Debbie downer but the reality of grant funding is that it's pretty rare and even harder to get. Especially with then current state of the economy. One of the best sources in our community had funds run out and left those who rcieved the grants without 3rd and 4th quarter funding.

By all means apply for every grant that can be found but know walking into this that you're likely going to have to fund things on your own or change your model to also provide doulas for paying clients and then use a portion of those funds to fund services for those in need. That's how our current model works.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaAngie View Post

I'm not wanting to be a Debbie downer but the reality of grant funding is that it's pretty rare and even harder to get. Especially with then current state of the economy. One of the best sources in our community had funds run out and left those who rcieved the grants without 3rd and 4th quarter funding.

By all means apply for every grant that can be found but know walking into this that you're likely going to have to fund things on your own or change your model to also provide doulas for paying clients and then use a portion of those funds to fund services for those in need. That's how our current model works.


Don't worry Angie - you aren't a Debbie downer because I already know that funding is going to be hard to come by.  We do also refer clients to doulas who can pay, and for the doulas that are volunteering within the group that is one of their perks.  They do volunteer births for us, but we also refer to them when paying clients come along.  If we can't make a match with one of our doulas then we go outside the group and help find referrals from within the community.  

 

post #15 of 28


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by momto9kidlets View Post




Don't worry Angie - you aren't a Debbie downer because I already know that funding is going to be hard to come by.  We do also refer clients to doulas who can pay, and for the doulas that are volunteering within the group that is one of their perks.  They do volunteer births for us, but we also refer to them when paying clients come along.  If we can't make a match with one of our doulas then we go outside the group and help find referrals from within the community.  

 


One thing to watch out for is doulas who "Can't make the commitment for 1 on 1 pairing for volunteer births" but who will take on private clients via your referrals.  Everyone starts out with the best intentions but when it comes to money things start to change, unfortunately.  We have a policy that doulas must take on clients via our service to be able to receive the private referrals. That means they're taking direct pairings (in our program they're paid a lesser rate for program clients vs private clients) in order to receive referrals for private clients.  In addition our doulas agree to do one totally free birth each per year.  Some years everyone does a freebie, other years no one needs to do one.  We also utilize student doulas looking for their certification births to help supply doulas for those who can't afford one.

 

We also deduct a portion of every paying client fee that goes back into the program to pay the bills, phone, website, etc.  When funds are available we also use that money to pay for clients who need doulas but can't pay.  Every client who gets a "free doula" (even a student doula) is asked to pay a administrative fee that also goes back into the program.  If there is a true hardship and they can't afford that small fee we will waive it, but it really helps to have them invest some of their own money so that they don't abuse the program or the doula by failing to call because they're not really invested.  Also since the fee is the same across the board, our program doesn't lose any money if a student doula is assigned to the client and the client pays the fee.  It's a win/win for everyone.

post #16 of 28

Hello, I was was searching for volunteer doula programs in the Houston area and I am interested in volunteering. I'd love more information.

post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 

I would start by contacting some of the local doulas in the area to see if they know of any available groups locally.

post #18 of 28

A woman does not have to be a trained doula to provide labor and birth support. You could offer short training for your volunteers and attract women that can't be professional doulas because of other things going on in their lives. I am a grandmother that would love to be a professional doula but I can't because I am disabled and can't have an income or I would loose my SSI and Medicaid. Older women would be great as volunteer doulas since they don't have small children to arrange care for.  

post #19 of 28

OP - I am a member of a doula assoc in NY and we have something called a "Families in Crisis " fund...we charge a yearly fee to belong to our assoc and we have over 70- members...our membership fees go into the fund we hold fundraisers all the time...we have had huge garage sales, we have hosted two movies (Business of being born and Orgasmic Birth)  proceeds from the movie went to the fund  i knit uteruses and breasts to be used in CBE classes etc... - those proceeds go to the fund....so when a family comes along who needs a doula  (our specs are for anyone who wants, but cannot afford a doula...priority is given to moms predisposed to PPD)  we can afford to the pay the doula from the funds we have accumulated.  We are also a not-for-profit and we TRY to apply to ever grant we can..so far, no luck there! 

I only work postpartum so i dont have all the details here but we are also involved in a few programs for teens only - one was funded by the county and gave each doula $300.00 for two ante partum visits, the birth and one pp visit.  The Doulas who volunteer for any of these births know they are like all others - backup, babysitters, etc... is all on them, and they will only earn $300.00 (most doulas out here earn twice that...somethings three times that amount) 

Its true these days all states and counties are cutting back on social programs ....but maybe start with school programs targeting teen moms and see if there is any info to be found there. 

Anyone else fundraising?  love to hear more ideas!  we are tapped out!

post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

A woman does not have to be a trained doula to provide labor and birth support. You could offer short training for your volunteers and attract women that can't be professional doulas because of other things going on in their lives. I am a grandmother that would love to be a professional doula but I can't because I am disabled and can't have an income or I would loose my SSI and Medicaid. Older women would be great as volunteer doulas since they don't have small children to arrange care for.  


Just because you cannot pull an income does not mean you cannot be a professional doula.  You can still be a professional doula and volunteer.  I am a professional doula and just started a nonprofit organization that provides classes, doulas, etc to teen and low income women for free.  I have been a doula since 2003 and at this time am not pulling an income, so while I agree you do not need to be professionally trained or certified you also certainly could be and still volunteer.

 

 

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