10 Easy Steps to Finding Event Volunteers By Sydney Dawes for Bizzaboo.com
Finding unpaid help is challenging! But, take heart, this list of tips will help you find and retain volunteers for your next event...and, the one after that.
1. Set up one-on-one meetings with potential event volunteers
If possible, avoid relying only on announcements to find event volunteers. It’s very easy to ignore or say no to an email or newsletter sitting in your inbox.
Start off by trying to recruit coworkers. You can compliment them on something they excel in, and then point out volunteers with that skill set are needed for your event. Describe what their responsibilities would be, while also mentioning the benefits of being an event volunteer.
In your follow up email, letter, or phone call, provide a more detailed job description of the volunteer role, along with details on your event.
Although one-on-one meetings are more personal, sometimes gathering volunteer commitments from people you know is just out of the question. If that's the case, you can try finding event volunteers through software platforms like Volgistics, VolunteerSpotan or VolunteerHubonline. These platforms provide users with information on thousands of skilled volunteers, as well as resources such as application forms, and schedules.
3. Find the motives of your volunteers, and provide incentives to match
Even the most generous of people rarely volunteer altruistically; there’s always a feature of volunteering that benefits them in some way.
For instance, many college-aged people will volunteer to build their resumes. Others may be exploring a new industry. Still others want to learn new skills and form new connections. It’s up to you to find what your volunteers are hoping to accomplish. Once you do that, be sure to highlight what they will learn, who they will meet, and what they will get to do.
Then, offer them an incentive for giving you their time: for example, you might be able to provide them a letter of recommendation in the future or be a reference for them or, free food may do the trick.
4. Communicate clearly
Talk to your volunteers to find their preferences. Do they prefer an email or a phone call? With larger groups, texts or group chat apps, such as GroupMe or Facebook Messenger, or Slack may be ideal.
Many companies are also embracing Trello, a project management tool that allows users to organize tasks by chopping them down into simpler steps. Bonus: with Trello, you can track your volunteers’ progress as well.
5. Define your expectations
In many cases, volunteers are lost because their expectations are not being met. In other words, many have a “This isn’t what I signed up for” mentality. To avoid this misunderstanding, clearly define the responsibilities, goals, and objectives your event volunteers will face.
Another way to ensure your volunteers are on the same page is by sending them an email or thank-you note after they make a commitment to your event. You should include a detailed job description within your thank you message to avoid confusion on what tasks they’ll be doing.
6. Set clear and reasonable deadlines
This point goes hand-in-hand with giving a detailed job description: people want to know not only what they’ll be accomplishing, but also how much time they’ll be putting into their tasks and when they need to complete them.
7. Give your volunteers all they need to succeed
What knowledge and resources will they need to ensure your event runs smoothly?
Before event day, outline who they should talk to for various common questions, and where they can find various pieces of equipment. A group chat could also help when volunteers have questions about their projects.
8. Provide your volunteers with feedback
Many event managers who work with volunteers tend to shy away from critiquing their work because they don’t want to appear ungrateful. But, keep in mind that volunteers want to know how they are performing, like any working professional.
Feedback is a key step to achieving effective volunteer support. Take the time to let your volunteers know where they are excelling and where they need to improve.
9. Thank event volunteers for their efforts
A show of gratitude will make a lasting impact on your volunteers, and it may be what convinces them to enlist their help again in the future.
Consider mailing volunteers a hand-written thank you card afterwards and be sure to thank them during closing remarks. And, let them know they’re appreciated before and during the event, as well!
10. Follow up with your event volunteers
To improve your future volunteer opportunities, it’s important to ask your past volunteers about their experiences while working with you. Find out what was productive and what could be improved. Was communication effective and clear? Were tasks reasonable? Did they feel as if they had the resources and knowledge to perform their assigned projects?
Gaining this knowledge will help you to make the tweaks you need to gather and retain volunteers for your all your future events.
By effectively reaching out to potential volunteers, clearly defining responsibilities, providing excellent training and easy access to information, communicating deadlines and giving feedback to your group members, your event will run smoothly and you’ll have much less to do.
Who knows? The same volunteers may step in to help you with your next event too!