From community festivals to large conferences, many special events rely on
volunteer support, making volunteer management an essential skill for event organizers.
So what goes into designing, recruiting, and managing event volunteers? Check out our tips and tricks below.
Design Your Event Volunteer Program
Choose Job Duties Wisely
Fact: Not all jobs can be done by volunteers. Volunteers should be trusted with positions such as greeters, room monitors, and information desk personnel, rather than positions that involve long-term event involvement.
Volunteers Love Perks
While volunteer positions are typically established to fill an event need, it’s important to understand what type of incentive the volunteers may desire. Are they looking for special access? A great giveaway? Free passes to the event? Asking volunteers why they are
interested in your event can help you provide the right incentives for your event volunteer program.
Make Sure You Know The Laws
As an event organizer, you must be very careful and make sure that your event volunteer program conforms to all the labor laws. Always refer to the US Department of Labor
website if you have any questions as to what your volunteers should, and should not be doing.
Volunteers Are Not A Crutch For Your Budget
The importance of volunteers cannot be understated but it is important to make sure your event has the budget to support essential, skilled full-time staff. Don’t let volunteers
become a swap for full-time staff to maintain the budget of an event.
Recruit Event Volunteers
Set Your Volunteer Selection Criteria
When recruiting event volunteers, it is important to state your selection criteria up-front and include practical requirements such as language and equipment skills. Selection rules will be especially important for positions that are likely to be very popular.
Let’s face it, most volunteers are participating at your event because they would like
something in return: merchandise, special access, internship credit, etc. State what your incentives are from the get-go so no event volunteer is surprised or disappointed.
Make Connections With The Community
If your event needs a continuous amount of volunteers, consider partnering with groups in the community. Look for groups whose mission is in line with your event goals.
Match Each Volunteers Skills Accordingly
It is crucial that the volunteer job skills match the volunteer job. Be prepared for
individuals who may want to participate at your event that have special needs, or physical limitations. Just as with an employment position, it is important to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, and avoid discrimination.
Managing Event Volunteers
Volunteer Position Descriptions
Just because an event volunteer is not being paid for their services doesn’t mean they do not need a description of their duties. Be sure to clearly inform event volunteers of their role, who they report to, and what hours they are expected to work.
Event Volunteer Code of Conduct
In addition to a description of duties, you as the event organizer should also include a code of conduct and bill of rights. A typical volunteer code of conduct includes, the expectation to arrive on time, demonstration of a positive attitude, respect to co-workers, reporting risks and injuries, and of course, to have fun. You should also make it clear to volunteers that they have obligations as well, including a fair, safe, healthy work environment free from harassment.
Plan For The Best But Expect The Worst
“Every one of my event volunteers showed up and did exactly what was expected of them.” – said no event organizer ever.
There is always a chance of volunteers not showing up, or following through on their
responsibilities. To help reduce the risk of this happening, make it clear what the
repercussions are for volunteers who no-show. This could include withholding any
incentive intended to be given or in some cases, charging a volunteer for benefits that may have already been received. In addition to a plan for no-shows, there should be a plan of action to deal with difficult volunteers who may need to be assisted or removed from the program.
Training for the big event
An orientation for volunteers prior to your event is a critical step to helping make sure that all runs smoothly during your event. The orientation should provide background on the event, and demonstrate any tasks an event volunteer may be doing. The orientation is a great opportunity to review and provide any special equipment that might be needed such as t-shirts, badges or safety equipment.
After The Event: Give A Million Thanks!
Happy event volunteers return and more than likely volunteer again for others. So remember, you can never say thank you and recognize volunteers enough! In addition to saying thanks, provide evaluations and seek feedback from volunteers to find out how you can improve next year.
Volunteers can be a great resource for event organizers and an invaluable part of helping to make an event run smoothly, with the proper training.
Have you had positive experience using volunteers? Tweet us @InsuringEvents