Before beginning, it is important to note that the number of volunteers depends on the size and complexity of the event. And in order to be effective, someone on the planning team needs to be put in charge of the volunteers. Said person’s duties would include recruiting, training, role assigning, scheduling, listening for feedback, answering questions, and providing appreciation. That can end up being a lot of work, which means if you are planning this event alone, you may need a little more time or help.
Whether or not you feel like you have a handle on your event, there’s a good likelihood that a volunteer team would provide great benefit to its success. But if you’ve never used a volunteer team before, it may be hard to distinguish exactly who you need and what you need them for. Here’s a list that might help.
Some of the tasks volunteers might do:
- Setting up and tearing down – Events need chairs, tables, a stage, activities, decorations, posters, musical instruments, lights, etc. The more hands that can help to put these things up or take them down is going to make a huge time difference. In order to make the process run even smoother, create teams of volunteers assigned to specific tasks (i.e. team A does chairs, team B tables, team C table decorations, and so on). That way people don’t jump from job to job and let something fall through the cracks.
- Registration – Once everything is set up, the next task will be registration. This is a great place for volunteers. They can be at the door to greet guests and help them get registered, show guests where to go next, and provide helping hands in sorting through nametags.
- Dining – Food is one of the most important parts of an event (if you love eating as much as I do). Volunteers come in handy when it’s time for cooking, serving, and dishes. Serving a group of 200+ people means a lot of calories and a big mess. I’m sure there are plenty of people in your volunteer army that can stand the heat of the kitchen. Dining help doesn’t just include the three meals a day. Snacks for meetings or activities will also need made and served. TIP: Reward volunteers by giving them free meals while they serve. Everyone loves free food!
- Recreation – No event is complete without activities, especially if that event is summer camp. For those active volunteers, let them partake by running the games, explaining rules and refereeing. In the example of camp, volunteers are also needed to guide guests from activity to activity. And, depending on the game, it might take a little set up.
- Impromptu tasks – Things happen at events and having volunteers on hand to accommodate will save a lot of headache. It may be an actual emergency or something as simple as a forgotten item. Either way, having extra help around that are prepared for such will take that responsibility off the leader.
- And the number 1 responsibility of volunteers is guest services! Having people around that can answer guest questions is going to mean the difference between a good and bad retreat.
Some of the attributes to look for in volunteers:
- A can-do attitude – positive people are more willing to do a better job and return for future events
- Willingness to work - because there will be plenty of work to do
- Good team player – since they will be working with the rest of the volunteer team
- People skills - specifically for that guest services responsibility I mentioned earlier
- A heart to serve - which they obviously have if they have signed up to volunteer