The DO's and DON’Ts of Working with Event Volunteers
As an event organiser, having a team of event volunteers to help at an event can be a real blessing – especially when budgets are tight and hiring a large team of part-timers isn’t a viable option.
Besides, volunteers tend to be interested in events (or at least, your event), and can be more enthusiastic than paid part-time help. Just be sure to treat them right, so they will be happy to give you their very best - and possibly volunteer again for your future events.
Here are a few ways you can put smiles on the faces of your event volunteers.
DO: Brief volunteers thoroughly.
DON’T: Assume they know what’s going on.
While experienced volunteers may be familiar with what goes on during an event, many volunteers may be there to gain valuable experience – and may be absolutely new to working at events.
Prepare a detailed brief for each group of volunteers, letting them know exactly what they are expected to do on each day, at all times of the day. Trust us, they’ll be happier being told what to do – instead of being left to figure things out for themselves.
DO: Give them interesting roles.
DON’T: Simply assign them tasks that no one else wanted.
Event volunteers didn’t sign up so they could be bored to tears. Avoid assigning them to solitary roles.
And if there are repetitive tasks involved, swop volunteer teams throughout the day, so no single group ends up cutting up sheets of paper for 10 hours at a time.
DO: Allow them freedom.
DON’T: Let them run free without a plan.
Besides helping you to run an event, volunteers are also there to make friends, learn new skills, and gain new experiences. This can’t happen if you pack their days with back-to-back tasks, all day long.
Instead, assign them specific tasks during specific times – but also give them time to wander around, explore, and mingle with other members of the team. This way, they’ll remain mentally and physically fresh throughout the day. (And be a lot happier.)
DO: Grant them behind-the-scenes perks.
DON’T: Treat them as nuisances/hazards.
One of the most fun aspects of being an event volunteer, is the getting a behind-the-scenes look at how an event is put together. Sometimes, part of the excitement comes from having a sneak peek at a celebrity guest, or watching performers rehearse onstage.
Allow your volunteers some freedom by scheduling in time during their day to do these things. As long as you manage them well, they shouldn’t get in the way of event preparations or rehearsals.
Plus, you’ll get a sense of satisfaction from knowing that you could be training the next generation of event planners.
DO: Feed them.
DON’T: Forget about transport.
Your event volunteers are already working for free. The least you can do is provide them with tasty meals, and if possible, also take care of their transportation costs.
Be generous with your event volunteers, and they will be generous with you. (With their time and effort.)