Good, reliable volunteers are a crucial part of putting on a successful event of any kind. It can be a challenge to find great volunteers that are willing to dedicate their time on the day of your event. When you do find your volunteers, you’ll want to secure them for future events, too, and even rely on them for word of mouth referrals. To get you started in your hunt for dedicated volunteers, we’ve put together five tips for finding the best:
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Don’t be afraid to ask individuals to volunteer for your event. You might assume that they have read your latest newsletter or have seen your volunteer requests on Facebook, but you can make it more impactful with a personal touch. Make phone calls or write letters to those whose help you could most use. Does someone have a specific skill you’re really in need of? Let them know! Flattery goes a long way.
Ask Volunteers to Bring Friends
Volunteering can be fun! Encourage your current volunteers to reach out to family members and friends to volunteer with them. Lending a helping hand is always easier to do alongside a familiar face. Check in with volunteers before the event or volunteer date to see how many people they plan on bringing. This way you can prepare an appropriate workload for your volunteer team size.
Value Your Volunteer’s Time
Although you might think otherwise, most volunteers like to be put to good use at events. They often sacrifice other things to help your team and value the time they give others. It’s hard to justify this time if it’s spent idle, standing around, or being uncertain of what to do next. Create an actionable task list and assign volunteers to each item. Be prepared with back up work (even if it’s behind the scenes or not related to the event itself) that they can do to further help you out. Refrain from sending volunteers home early if it’s within the first two hours of them arriving.
Schedule Work in Shifts
Have individuals register to volunteer based on the amount of time they are able to commit the day of the event or days leading up to the event. Give them a few time ranges to choose from, then assign jobs from your task list based on time commitment. Make sure volunteers know that it is ok for them to leave after their shift is up and that you have a replacement scheduled if needed. Volunteers respond well to expectations they know they can routinely and reasonably meet.
Offer an Incentive
Of course, many times people volunteer for events that they themselves have attended or participated in. In this case, offering an incentive such as discounted registration to a future event or a free plus one can make volunteering even more rewarding for them. You can also think about having volunteer sign-up sheets posted at events and exchange a free beverage, snack, or swag for their contact information.
Once you’ve found a solid pool of helpful volunteers, work with their schedules to best accommodate their needs. If you treat them well, they’ll likely return to future events with little hesitation. Plus, volunteers can become some of your best brand advocates so you can count on a few extra people serving as great word of mouth referrals – based on their experience!
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