Gathering a team of people willing to give their time and resources to your event is a big endeavor. Once you’ve gathered this team of experts, knowing how to organize and utilize event volunteers is important. If a volunteer’s skills are not used to the advantage, the volunteer may grow discouraged and you risk losing a valuable part o your team or missing an important key component that will make your event stand out.
You likely already have a firm grasp on the different roles for volunteers on your event planning team. For some tips on different standard roles and what each job entails, check out the Building the Perfect Event Team guide.
Decide What Roles Are Needed
Your first step in organizing your volunteers is to create a list of the different roles that need to be filled. Simply create a list based on categories such as promotion, venue selection, setup, etc.
You may need more than one person for some jobs. For example, if you need to assign the decorating of the banquet hall before the keynote speaker does his presentation, you’ll want to assign one person to be in charge and helpers for that person to do the physical labor of placing centerpieces on the tables and making sure everything looks perfect.
Organize and Utilize Event Volunteers Based on Skills
Look at the different skills your volunteers bring to the table. In some cases, you may have people in your organization who have requested a specific role during the conference. For example, if someone is skilled in public relations, then this person might have requested to be in charge of sending out press releases and getting media coverage for the event.
Try to use the skills in your base of volunteers to the best advantage. Not only will you wind up with better results, but those people will enjoy their roles and be more likely to return and volunteer again next year.
Consider Hiring Out Some Roles
If you’re having trouble getting the manpower together to cover some of the physical labor involved in setting up your event and the event venue doesn’t offer these services, consider hiring local high school or college students to come in and help with set up and tear down of various events.
Another idea is to contact church youth groups. These groups are often looking for a way to raise funds. Offer a fee if the group comes and helps with set up and tear down. You’ll get a group of able bodies led by an adult leader who will keep them on track.
Is There Overlap?
Are there any volunteers in your group who can fulfill more than one role? For example, can the media person also produce the event paperwork?
Sometimes, you can fill some of the lesser roles on your list by going back and looking at the skills those already on your team bring to the table.
If you still find that you have a few roles that haven’t been filled, call a meeting of all your volunteers and tell them what you still need. They may know people who are willing to donate a few hours worth of time and have that specific skill set.
Since you’ll already have volunteers slotted into each category, this is sometimes the best way to utilize your volunteers.
Utilizing The Help You Have
Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you have people willing to help, let them help. One person can’t do it all.
According to Dr. Scott Williams, Professor of Management at Wright State University, “Delegation should provide challenge for your subordinates and encourage them to develop their capabilities. As they take on tasks that exceed their basic job description, they will naturally develop new knowledge and skills to cope with those tasks. Such development prepares them for future assignments and promotions.”
Let others help with the tasks involved in planning an event and not only will your work load be lightened, but you’ll allow those people to excel at what each does best and train them for future event work.
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