In a previous blog post this month we focused on committee / board volunteers and finding the “right” ones for your fundraising event and now we turn our attention to the often forgotten volunteer – the event volunteer.
These volunteers come out early in the morning, stay late into the night. They lift boxes, talk to guests, they wear funny uniforms and all with a smile. This group doesn’t participate as guests, they give their time freely to work and to ensure success the day(s) of the event. Event managers need these volunteers to ensure a smooth running event. We cannot be everywhere, but an army of volunteers can!
Similar to the committee volunteers it is important to find the right people for this. We look for volunteers who are connected to the organization – current volunteers, past event volunteers, children of committee members, friends, and family and so on. It is also necessary to have a mix of adults and students we recommend a 2:1 ratio of adults to students to manage various roles and accountability.
Before the volunteers join we ensure the information regarding their role(s) is clearly defined – outlining what types of jobs we need, shifts and skills required. This is to ensure people are not signing up for one thing and experiencing another. If we need people to move heavy boxes, sell raffle tickets, clean up, accept cash we indicate that in the recruitment emails and posters.
Once we have people signed up we ensure that we schedule volunteers appropriately to ensure they have adequate breaks, time to move from one duty to another and have respected the time they have said they could give to us.
Prior to the event we send a couple of communication messages to each of our volunteers with their job descriptions in greater detail, information about arrival time, dress code and what they can expect from us the event organizers. We find if volunteers have a greater understanding about the value of their role and why it is important they embrace it more. For instance why is it important to have volunteers by the auction tables? To ensure guests who may have trouble reading the bid sheets can have assistance, guests with questions about packages have a knowledgeable person to ask, and for security.
Day of the event when everyone is so busy it is vital to take the time to meet your volunteers, greet them and show them around the event. Let them know what is happening, when and who to contact if they have a question. Give them a chance to get acquainted with the room and their role before throwing them into the event.
We always have a designated area for our event volunteers to take a break, have some warm food and non-alcoholic beverages. Especially for your volunteers who are there for the long haul you need to feed them healthy, substantial food to keep their energy up. A fun draw for all the volunteers or give-aways is also a nice touch. But most importantly when they leave – thank them! You could not execute the event without all the volunteers behind the scene making your plan a reality.
Your event volunteers are the face of your event, your customer service representatives, your sales team - encouraging bidding and helping you raise money for a much needed cause!
Event Director & Co-Owner