Volunteers are a large part of successful nonprofit events—fundraising and other events. If you are seeking volunteers for events, first look to your current roster of volunteers. Look at past volunteers. A new event might spark renewed interest from past volunteers.
During your recruitment efforts, reach out with specific information about the event and the volunteer skills and talents you seek. Try your professional networking circles and other community groups to find volunteers—local civic clubs, sororities or fraternities, church youth groups, etc., all of whom may have people looking for a one-time volunteer opportunity—perfect for events if dates and skills match up.
For optimum success, make sure to train your event volunteers. Do not assume a volunteer will know what to do!
Have a volunteer registration area and instruct all volunteers to show up there at their appointed time. This is your final opportunity for training in the form of up-to-minute event information, changes, logistics to share with guests, etc.
It’s often helpful to have event volunteers easily recognizable by guests—bright colored t-shirts, special nametags, specific locations are some of the ways to do this. If your event requires cocktail or black tie, you can identify volunteers with a special corsage or boutonniere, the same style or color attire or other ways that mesh well with the attire of guests.
Your event volunteers should know enough about your organization and its mission to share information or answer questions. When volunteers speak on behalf of your organization, it is your responsibility to ensure they are speaking correctly!
Volunteers need to know the event schedule and expectations for when they will be there, how long they will volunteer and when they are free to leave an event.
Provide a person who can trouble shoot any issues a volunteer might encounter. Make sure the volunteers have a way to easily contact that person during the event. If attending the event free is one of the volunteer perks, make sure you give your volunteers free time to enjoy the event!
There are a variety of roles for volunteers at events. These should all be a part of your volunteer recruitment and retention plan. The event planning committee is the first role for volunteers. For larger events with many moving parts, you may have subcommittees, an additional way for volunteer involvement.
Volunteers can help with registration or check-in tables at events. Volunteers are a great way to have a large group of workers for both set-up and decorations for the event and for the clean-up and breakdown afterwards. Recruit clean-up volunteers very specifically; do not assume all your volunteers will stick around at the end to help clean-up.
If it’s an event where people are assigned a table, volunteers are perfect for the task of letting guests know which table, and if you have enough volunteers, it’s great service to escort guests to their table.
Events that have refreshments (free or for sale) provide an opportunity for volunteers to staff your refreshment table. Most states have liquor regulations and requirement that prohibit volunteer providing bar service. If they are serving prepared food, volunteers may need a food handling card.
Volunteers at a golf tournament might be assigned to drive the beer cart, to witness the “hole in one” spot, to drive celebrity golfers. Any outdoor, sports-related event might need volunteer to deliver water to participants.
Volunteers may help with the financial portion of your event, sharing the task of counting money and getting it ready for deposit (along with a staff person).
Always thank your volunteers after the event—privately, publicly and more than once. Go beyond a simple thanks to engage your volunteers in debriefing your events—and listen to their feedback!
Read more at Classy.org.