Monday, March 5, 2012

Doodling Around

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I'd like to introduce you to another one of my favorite web based programs called Doodle.  Doodle is a great program to poll your parents on their availability.  When scheduling big events like my Cookie Reward or camping I want to make sure the  largest number of girls are available to participate.  You cannot count on your girls for their availability and calling every parent in your troop is time consuming.  I suppose you could send out e-mails, wait for the responses and then record on a post-it who is available on what days, but I have found a much easier way that makes my life simpler.  I use Doodle.
Recently I scheduled my Daisy Troop's Cookie Reward at the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science.  I found three dates that were workable with my schedule and I then entered those dates in to the Doodle Program and sent the poll to my parents via e-mail.  Within a few days it was apparent that over 90% of my troop was available Friday, April 13.  I approached each of the parents who were not available that day and asked them why and how we could make the date work for their family.  I am hoping 100% of my girls will be able to attend.  This would be a feat in and of itself considering I have a really big troop.  I would never have this clear and concise information without the simple format of Doodle.  I would be extremely disappointed if I had chosen a weekend that several girls had a cheer competition or a some of the girls had family trips planned.  There is a monetary component to scheduling as well, I do not want to place a down payment or pay a reservation fee and find out I need to re-schedule because the date does not work for a majority of the girls.  Many events have a no-return policy on changing reservations.  I know this to be the case with Great Wolf Lodge.  And once again Doodle is green, I save paper since I do not have to send flyers or requests home with the girls and I do not have to record parent availability on paper.  I simply visit the site and each parent's availability on the various dates is easily accessible and visible.

So how does this work?  Doodle is a very user friendly website for virtually any technology level.  If you have a smart phone or use e-mail on a regular basis, using Doodle is a snap.  Simply visit the website and click on "Schedule an Event".  Input the Title of the event, in my case it was "Cookie Reward at the Dallas Museum".  Enter the location and provide a brief description like:  "Our girls have sold "x" boxes of cookies and as a reward for their hard work they have elected to spend a night at the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science.  The event can be booked on the following days, please tell me what works best for you and your family."  Next you provide your name and e-mail which grants you access to the administration page and allows you to follow the input of information.  Click "Next" and you will be directed to a page that allows you to simply click on the calendar day(s) you want to poll for availability.  You can even poll for the specific time of day which is extremely helpful when scheduling parents meetings or luncheons.  A majority of your parents might be available on Monday, but not a 10am.  Polling for the best time helps to make sure the greatest number of parents or girls are available at a specific hour as well.  On the final page of the program you simply click "Next" under the heading Basic Poll.  There are advance features where you can place certain limits on your results.  For example, you can hide the results of the poll from your parents, limit their response to one answer or create a yes, no or if-need-be format, but for the most part I use the default program and do not complicate the poll any further.  This makes it easier on myself and the parents.   On the final page you will have 2 options you can simply copy and place the link to the Doodle poll in a personal e-mail or you can manually enter each of your parents' e-mail addresses and the Doodle program will send the e-mail to everyone.  I prefer to send out a personal e-mail and include a link because I often send additional information regarding the activity, meeting or event.  Also I like to impress upon the parents that the poll is somewhat time sensitive and I would like to have results rather quickly in order to make a decision regarding the event.  Furthermore, if Doodle sends out the e-mails to my parents I worry that I may input an address wrong and a parent will not receive the poll or the e-mail could go to their "junk" box and be perceived as spam.  I feel sending out the Doodle poll via my personal e-mail avoids confusion.  Sha Zam, you are done!

Skeptical?  Give this a try the next time you want to find out if your girls are available for an event.  I promise you won't be disappointed.  And remember we preach to our girls that is important to try new things and we as leaders need to live by this motto as well.  Doodle is an incredible user-friendly tool for leaders!

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