Managing event volunteers can be challenging! Here are 4 of the most common volunteer management problems and how your organization can avoid them.
Every event planner and/or volunteer coordinator loves a group of enthusiastic volunteers. What’s better than qualified help for your event? But experienced planners also know that a group of eager volunteers often comes with its own challenges and barriers. If you don’t have a good plan in place to manage your volunteers, you could easily be missing out on the value of the volunteers who come to provide support to your organization and its mission. So, what are the top challenges faced by volunteer managers, and how do you avoid them? Read on to find out.
No Point Person
Volunteers need someone to come to with questions about assignments, procedures, problems, etc. Whomever you assign to this role needs to have a thorough understanding of the event’s logistics so that he or she can answer those questions. This person should also solely serve as the volunteer point person. Don’t have the point person double up on roles. Remember, there’s no point in having a point person if volunteers don’t know who that person is. Be sure to communicate ahead of the event who the volunteer point person will be and where he or she can be found.
Even if your organization utilizes contactless volunteer check-in it is crucial to have an appointed contact for volunteers to reach out to during the course of their shift.
Occasionally, volunteers start doing something completely outside their assigned roles, for example, the coat check person starts selling drink tickets at an event. To avoid this situation, be sure to clearly communicate exactly what a volunteer’s assignment is and that they are to stick to that assignment only. Instruct volunteers that if a guest asks them to do something outside their assigned role, they should point said guest in the direction of the volunteer covering that area or their assigned volunteer manager.
Late Arrivals / No-Shows
Inevitably, a volunteer is going to show up late or not come to the event at all. Don’t let this interrupt the flow of the event. Anticipate this situation and have a designated, simple assignment ready to switch the person to when/if he or she decides to show up. For example, if an auction spotter arrives late, don’t try to bring this person up to speed and incorporate him or her into the process. Have a simple, doubled-up assignment ready to send the latecomer to.
Just like other stakeholders, volunteers need to be kept happy and engaged so that they will continue volunteering in the future. Volunteers simply want to feel useful and appreciated. Giving people thoughtful assignments and clearly communicating roles ahead of time will make for busy, content volunteers. If there’s going to be a long period during assignments when volunteers won’t have anything to do, be sure to have a break room where they can take a load off and grab a snack. To ensure volunteers feel appreciated, be sure to thank everyone for their service at the conclusion of the event. Follow up with a thank-you note for each volunteer a week or so after the event.
It is possible to avoid common pitfalls and have a successful experience managing your volunteers. Remember, your volunteers can make or break your event. Be sure to plan their management carefully and strategically. Investing in volunteer management software can help you recruit, engage, and manage event volunteers effectively and strategically.