3 top tips on recruiting and managing event volunteers

With the very real chance of COVID restrictions lifting in the not too distant futureÂ đŸ€žÂ regional events are starting to fire up their event planning. Facts are: Events simply cannot operate without volunteers!

So, have you thought about your team?

  • Will all your volunteers come back?

  • Will you need to recruit new faces?

  • How do you ensure you have the right number of volunteers on the ground to ensure event success and sustainability?

Attracting and retaining volunteers for your event is a key priority to ensure sustainability and longevity, COVID or not.

Volunteers today are different to the volunteers of years gone by

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Here are 3 top tips from the team at rEVENTS Academy to ensure that you can always successfully recruit volunteers and manage them in the most effective way (to ensure great results).

  1. Understand why people volunteer so you can satisfy their needs and expectations.

Do you know what your community’s volunteers expect?

What do they want in exchange for giving their time?

If you understand what motivates them you will be able to better understand what expectations they have.

Not everyone wants to be involved in the planning stages

Some only want to be involved in planning stages

Some only want to fulfill a specific role on the day and don’t want to go to meetings

Some will expect regular communication and to be kept well informed

Poor understanding of volunteer motives, a mismatch between organizational goals and volunteer motivations, and inadequate funding can mean that volunteers’ most pressing motives are not satisfied, which leads to discontentment, resentment and attrition among volunteers.

Support volunteers with

  • A volunteer management policy so it is clear up front what volunteers receive and what is expected of them – like a partnership agreement!

  • Prompt feedback from volunteer coordinators to help volunteers have a better sense of control over their behaviour by clarifying expectations around volunteers’ roles.

  • Next year’s schedule provided in advance so that volunteers can plan ahead as lack of time is one of the most frequently cited reasons for not volunteering

  • A system for volunteer sign-ups so you can set clear expectations with the volunteer up front. Be organised to show their time is valued by you.

What do volunteers want in return?

  • have fun

  • be with like-minded people

  • be part of a respected event

  • gain confidence and experience

  • add to a CV

  • improve communication skills

  • receive free tickets

First timers are more concerned about what impacts on them financially (free ticket, build career skills); the veterans are more concerned about relationships.

If you understand what motivates them, you will be able to better understand what expectations they have.


2. Define clear roles and make the value proposition clear

Before you start recruiting there are two things you must do!

Define clear roles 

Clearly-defined volunteer roles will make it easy for interested people to see if they have the rights skills for specific roles. Rather than a generic plea for help, a concise job description can help a volunteer make the decision to get in contact with you to say, ‘I can do that!’.

Some people are better at working in the background, some are great with people or with figures; it’s discouraging to be assigned a task that is not a good fit, so respect your volunteers by assigning a responsibility that is both enjoyable and challenging.

Make the value proposition clear 

Why should people spend their free time at your event helping out? Make it clear the benefits they will get out of helping your event.

Avoid the broad brush recruitment drive or desperate plea for volunteers: ‘HELP!’


3. Create an enviable on-site experience for volunteers

Have a clear communication system

Have fun!! Can you offer unique opportunities like meeting the headline act, or a behind the scenes experience?

Have a volunteer chill out zone with catering to relax and socialise between shifts

Be clear on your policy for free catering, free entry, etc.


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