Better Volunteers for Your Event

As Director of Client Success at SpinGo, I get to work with many talented event makers as they prepare for their events. We talk through better ways to manage vendors, setting up clear event schedules, creating urgency for ticket sales, and beyond. However, there is one portion of event planning that always seems to get put on the back burner: Volunteers.

It can be hard to focus on getting great volunteers while you have a million other things on your plate, but volunteers are one of the first things attendees encounter at your event.

The fact is, volunteers can make or break your event.

Here are some things that I suggest to help you have better volunteers for your event:

1. Offer Incentives
People always want to know “What’s in it for me?”. Create a compelling story on your website that explains why someone would want to volunteer for your event. A page that shows images of volunteers having fun and wording about how volunteering for your event will be rewarding can help convince potential volunteers to sign up. Incentivize volunteers by offering event tickets, gift cards, or cash for their time. Just make sure you don’t send them these items until after they have volunteered! This will keep you from losing money or comped tickets if they volunteer doesn’t show for their shift.

2. Look Where People Are Short on Cash
My first suggestion? Colleges. Colleges are full of young, tech savvy individuals that are typically short on cash or looking for ways to make a little extra $$$. Scout and flyer at the nearest college to find volunteers for your event. College students are also more likely to encourage their friends to volunteer (or even attend the event) with them.

3. Make the Application Process Easy
Build an online application in Event Master for your potential volunteers to fill out. Distribute the online application link on your website, email blasts, your Facebook page, flyers, or anywhere else potential volunteers can see it. Ask specific questions on the application that you’d like to know about your volunteers (ie. Can you lift 25 pounds? How would you handle an angry customer?). You can review, accept, and deny applications through the software.

4. Communicate
Make sure your volunteers know when, where, and what they will be doing at the event. Keep and open line of communication between you and your volunteers. Stay organized by assigning each volunteer to specific shifts and areas using the Event Master volunteer manager. Volunteers will be able to login to see and accept the shifts that you’ve assigned as well as any training materials you’ve included.

5. Create Training Materials
Videos, PDFs, booklets, etc. If there is information you’d like your volunteers to know, create materials for them to review. Make these materials available to volunteers BEFORE the event by uploading them to the volunteer training portal (Volunteer Manager> Volunteer Setup> Volunteer Training). Have your volunteers review these materials before your event date.

6. Have a Training Day
This one may be hard to do with a busy schedule, but it really will make all the difference. Plan a training day for your volunteers before the event. Review rules, event policies, venue, check in technology, and other items that will help your event to run smoothly. This will eliminate some of the chaos of trying to train your volunteers on the day of the event. Encourage volunteers to show up to the training day with pizza. Everyone loves pizza.

Volunteers are important to focus on as you plan your event. We wish you the best of luck as you search for volunteers!

For more information on how you can better manage your volunteers, visit the Event Master section on our website.

3 Sites to Find Volunteers for Your Nonprofit Event

Time and money: the two things every nonprofit wishes it had more of. While the ultimate question is how to get more of each, one solution to having more time and to make your dollar stretch further is to use volunteers for your nonprofit. Many hands make light work, and using the services of volunteers will free up your own hands so you can focus on the areas of event organizing that require your expertise. But as convenient as having volunteers sounds, finding those volunteers is just another time consuming task to add to your to-do list.

Fortunately, there are good people out there who have spent their time and effort to create platforms that connect nonprofits with volunteers, so you don’t have to spend too much of your time trying to track them down. Here are three sites (and apps) that will help you get volunteers to your nonprofit events.

1. GiveGab

GiveGab is a nonprofit giving platform that enables nonprofits to connect with their members socially much like Facebook. GiveGab is a giving app to help you experience a better way for your nonprofit to raise more, engage more, and do more. One of the benefits of using GiveGab to find volunteers for your event is that GiveGab makes it easy for your volunteers to share their experience volunteering for you. They can upload pictures, share their thoughts, and their friends are able to see where they are volunteering as well, and join along if they want to. You can download this app for free, post your event information, and wait for people to sign up. Not every city has as many users, but the convenient aspect of the app is that it is available anywhere in the U.S.

2. VolunteerMatch

VolunteerMatch brings good people and good causes together. Nonprofits focus on making their communities and the lives of others better and volunteers are looking for a way to bring that all together. VolunteerMatch does an excellent job of matching volunteers with the nonprofits that best fit their interests through their specific filter options. Volunteers can search for service opportunities based upon their interests, whether they are more people focused, or would rather help behind the scenes. VolunteerMatch is only available in certain cities, so check and see if they are available in yours. If they are, you are in luck for getting some great volunteers for your event which will help you save on budget and stress.

3. AllForGood

All For Good’s platform is built for volunteer work in your local community to help make it a better place. Volunteers can find ways to sign up for search disaster response, or search for volunteer opportunities that fit their interests. As you are listing your nonprofit on this website, make sure to list the keywords that describe your nonprofit and volunteer opportunity so that you can find the volunteers that match best with your nonprofit. Like VolunteerMatch, All For Good is only available in certain cities, but one of the claims listed on it’s website states that over 64 million searches happened through All for Good last year for 300,000 volunteer projects. If you have an event going on, All for Good will help you connect with the right volunteers for your event.

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.

Recruiting

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.

Volunteer Management

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.