Volunteers are critical to a participants experience. They are often the first people they meet as they arrive at an event, and they are also the people participants engage with most during an event.
Whether it’s a marshal managing car parking or the people handed out refreshments, every interaction with a volunteer will leave an impression. But how does an organiser make sure it’s a good one?
The first question to ask any volunteer offering their time at your event is – why are they there? Are they doing for money, for love or because they have been voluntold to be there. If the answer is the latter, you may have to question their commitment, if they do not like their role at the event.
The second question to ask is – what do they know about the event and its participants? If the answer to that is very little, you may need to think about how you use them so their lack of understanding doesn’t impact the event experience.
The final and most important question to ask a volunteer is – do they know their role? This is something you have control over, in the way you communicate to each and every volunteer.
Often organisers engage larger groups who are looking to raise money for a good cause, as it feels easier to deal with one person in charge of that group, rather than many individuals. However, individuals can be more motivated by their desire to learn and be involved. They can be budding event organisers themselves or they might have a love for the activity which the event is based around.
Whether it’s a group or an individual, the key to making sure you have a great volunteers is good communication. Each volunteer role needs to be clearly defined, highlighting what is expected, including for how long.
Communicating early with volunteers, preferably in the weeks and days leading up to the event, rather than the day itself, can save you time and misunderstandings. There are always going to be questions, so the earlier these can be answered, the easier it will be for you on the day of the event.
It is recommended that as well as verbal briefings, where volunteers can ask questions, you also provide all of the information a volunteer needs in writing, which they can keep with them on the day to reference when required.
All volunteers need to be recognised for the work they do in creating memorable experiences for the participants at your events. By understanding their motivation for being involved and rewarding them accordingly, there is a strong chance they will want to be involved again.
If you understand your volunteers, communicate with them well and reward them for their efforts, what they give back will be tenfold, and your event will be better as a result.
For more information on event volunteers, click on the links below: