Finding and Managing Solid Event Volunteers
If you’re organizing an event, solid volunteers are crucial for its success. You know the kind. They’re the ones that are reliable, energetic, and diligent. They make your event a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. How do you find and keep solid event volunteers? Read on for some simple advice.
Where to Look
One of the biggest challenges facing event makers is finding not just solid volunteers, but any volunteers. That’s why it’s important to start looking early and often.
The most logical place to begin your search is within you own network. See how much interest you can drum up within your inner circle and go from there. Friends, family, and colleagues are willing to help.
College campuses are another great resource for volunteers. Students are energetic and highly motivated. They feel ready to make a difference and are building out their résumés. Volunteering is a great way for them to gain experience for future employment.
Call out to your followers on social media. If you have fans of your organization, chances are they are willing to help out. They may even reach out to their own friends and followers to get involved.
Many local businesses want to get involved in the community and even take pride in getting behind a good cause. They can also help you out by hanging posters and handing out flyers to customers.
The first thing to keep in mind when recruiting is to understand why people volunteer. What makes them take the time out of their busy lives and do something for no compensation? If you’ve ever volunteered before, whether it’s helping a buddy move or participating in a blood drive, why did you do it?
There will always be individuals who feel obligated to volunteer through work or through their friends. But the single most important reason for volunteering is love. You want volunteers who are motivated by love—the ones that have love for your event, your cause, your culture.
So how do you get volunteers to love your event? Give them something that captures their interest. It could be a story, a video, or a photo gallery. Then appeal to their motivations and skills. Let them share their interests and explain how you can best utilize their talents. And perhaps offer incentives like a team shirt, free parking, food, and goodie bags.
Once you’ve recruited your ideal volunteers, set expectations right upfront. Volunteers need to know exactly what’s required of them. Along with that, communication is paramount. Keep them in the loop throughout the planning and execution of your event. You can do this with channels like email threads, Facebook groups, and meetups.
It’s also important to make them feel appreciated by recognizing hard work and effort. On event day, consider how you will make sure everybody gets a break and enjoy the event for themselves.
There will inevitably be issues among volunteers. Be prepared to move people to different tasks and solve problems as soon as they happen.
Getting Solid Volunteers to Come Back
Once you have these solid volunteers, you’re more likely to see them again if their experience has been meaningful. This will definitely save you some time when it’s time to recruit volunteers for your next event.
Simple communication is the best way to keep your volunteers engaged after your event is over. Keep your recruiting and management communication channels open. Following the event, it’s a good idea to ask your volunteers for feedback. This sets up a conversation about how to improve the volunteer experience, and it helps keep your volunteers involved. Also, be sure to send ongoing news and updates about future events. Your solid volunteers will appreciate staying in the loop, and they’ll be more likely raise their hand again.
- Jeff Lew was a Creative Director for SpinGo. He is now a Creative Director for Aktify, a customer acquisition engine that qualifies and reactivates prospects through goodwill experience marketing.