Finding and managing event volunteers

Finding and Managing Event Volunteers

There’s more to a great event than meets the eye. If you’re in the event-planning business, you already know one of the key behind-the-scenes secrets to success: The bigger the event, the more manpower you’ll need to get it off the ground.

That’s where volunteers come in. Volunteers are often the lifeblood of major events—think of the friendly faces handing out water bottles and bananas at mile 20 of a marathon, or the team of volunteers running the check-in table at a conference. Your event staff keeps things running smoothly and ensure your attendees have a delightful experience.

But how do you go about finding people who are willing to give their time to your cause? These tips will help you get started finding and managing volunteers for your next event.

Tips to Find & Manage Event Volunteers

1. Start spreading the word

The earlier you put out a call for volunteers, the better. Take advantage of all your communication channels: Your website, your email list, and your social networks are all great places to start. You can also include a call for volunteers within the event listing on your calendar.

Pro Tip: Make it easy for volunteers to get all the info they need before signing up–a dedicated volunteer page with all the vital information about volunteer roles, responsibilities, and time commitments will help set expectations before they sign up.

Many nonprofits also use third-party websites to post volunteer listings. Local newspapers, magazines, and blogs in your community are often happy to promote volunteer opportunities on their own website or events calendar.

2. Reach out to past attendees

People who have attended your events in the past are more likely to want to support your organization than total strangers. Get in touch with those attendees via email or use a tool like Promoter to easily connect with your existing base of supporters. You never know who might want to make the leap from attendee to volunteer at your next event!

3. Connect with schools and businesses

Schools and businesses can be a goldmine for volunteer recruitment. At many schools, student volunteerism is encouraged, and businesses are often eager to support local causes by allowing their employees to volunteer. Even if they aren’t able to provide volunteers, a local school or business might be willing to help promote or even sponsor your event.

4. Provide incentives

Volunteers aren’t in it for money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer them a token of your appreciation. That could be free admission to the event or a catered lunch from a delicious local restaurant during their volunteer shift. Offering a small gesture of thanks can go a long way during recruiting and will help build goodwill between you and your volunteers.

5. Communicate clearly

Recruiting volunteers is only half the battle—now you need to manage the team. Communicate early and often about volunteer responsibilities and expectations, and designate someone on your team to be available to delegate tasks and answer questions from volunteers on the day of the event.

Helpful communication channels:

  • Volunteer email list
  • Apps such as Doodle to coordinate meeting schedules
  • Google forms or other polls to quickly collect information
  • Private Facebook groups or Slack channels for event volunteers

Pro tip: Leading up to your event, use custom labels in your events calendar to create special sections with volunteer information.

Caring for Volunteers = Caring for Attendees

Just like your event attendees, you want your event volunteers to have a great experience. If you provide a well-organized, rewarding experience for your volunteers, you’ll build an army of helpers who will be happy to lend a hand at your next event!

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