Charity events and festivals are often “all-hands-on-deck” events. Everyone in the organization is put into a role, but yet there are still gaps that need to be filled. Volunteers can help to fill all sorts of roles from registration to information kiosks, marshalling, and transportation. Many events simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers.
While some individuals seek out volunteer opportunities in order to gain expertise or work experience, others simply derive satisfaction from helping an organization they feel passionate about. Managing your event volunteers is an essential component of running a successful event. Follow these tips from Entripy to make your events seamless.
Take the time before the event to ask your volunteers about their strengths, weaknesses, interests and motivations before assigning roles. Just like hiring an employee, you want to make sure your volunteers are appropriately matched to the right position for them. You don’t want someone who is uncomfortable answering questions to staff your information kiosk when they are likely more comfortable doing some behind the scenes work. Nothing can be more discouraging to a volunteer, or more frustrating to an event organizer, than having volunteers in a role that isn’t well suited to them.
Assign a Volunteer Supervisor
Volunteers are all well-meaning, but they can also be high-maintenance.
Assigning a staff person, or a volunteer who has been with your organization for a few years, a volunteer supervisor role gives your volunteers a point person for asking questions, leaving the event organizer free to oversee all other aspects of the event.
Outfit Volunteers in Custom T-Shirts
Providing event volunteers with custom t-shirts helps to clearly identify your volunteers to attendees. Custom t-shirts also help volunteers feel part of a team and can go a long way to boosting camaraderie and fostering a sense of unity for the cause. If your event is multi-day and you are having the same volunteers over multiple days, you may need to provide them with a few custom printed t-shirts. You can choose to mark your event t-shirts with the word “Volunteer” on the back or the sleeve to make your volunteers easily identifiable to event attendees.
Make the Volunteer Experience Enjoyable
Be sure to show your appreciation to volunteers during the event. Provide your volunteers with all the tools required to perform their duties. Provide snacks or give them a lunch pass if that’s something you’re providing to attendees. Treating your volunteers well will help ensure their satisfaction and will make your event run smoother.
Create a Volunteer Cheat Sheet
Your volunteers will most often be the first resource for attendees. Equipping your volunteers with a cheat sheet of commonly asked questions, an event schedule and a map highlighting washrooms and session rooms will allow event organizers to spend less time answering questions and more time ensuring the event runs smoothly.
Be Mindful of Schedules
Remember, your volunteers are unpaid and are generally donating their time out of the goodness of their hearts. Watch for signs that your volunteers are overcommitted. Avoid giving out too many hours or positions to one individual and be conscious when making your schedule to stick to your volunteers’ stated availability to avoid conflicts. Always ensure that you have a back-up plan in case one of your volunteers falls ill or simply doesn’t show up for their shift.
Ask for Feedback
It’s a great idea to include volunteers in your event debrief, focus groups and event evaluation. Your event volunteers are your eyes and ears at the event.
Attendees will frequently share information with your volunteers about what they thought of the event, information that they may not so readily share with event organizers, making your volunteers an ideal group to survey post-event.
Say Thank You
Recognition is important to volunteers who are donating their time and effort to help your event or cause. You can show your volunteers that you appreciate their efforts by thanking them on stage at the end of your event, hosting a volunteer appreciation event, sending a personalized card or email, or providing your volunteers with a gift such as a custom mug or a customized water bottle with the event logo as a thank you for their time and effort and a memento that they can use long after the event is over. It’s hard to find good volunteers year after year, but showing appreciation to your volunteers is one way to ensure they’ll come back.