Whether you hold your orientation face-to-face or remotely, this meeting is one of the essential parts of your event planning. After all, volunteers keep down in-house costs for an event, and they are very much part of the glue that holds a successful event together. Here are nine essentials of a great volunteer orientation meeting which are sure to keep your volunteers informed, engaged, and productive:
1. Welcome and Overview
You may want to start off with an icebreaker, or just give a brief welcome statement which is followed by an overview of the meeting. Everything is visual nowadays, so have a digital screen available that breaks down the main parts of the meeting and where it's headed. In addition, have your overview posted online so that volunteers can access the outline before and after the orientation.
Let your volunteers know who they'll be working with. Have a list of event features posted online, the names of all staff members working on the event, and relevant descriptions of the host organization. This way, all members of your volunteer team will have a clear understanding of what they're signing up for. The introduction portion also provides a great opportunity to let them know what values your own event planning business (if different from the host organization) stands for, and how volunteers can make a real difference when they serve at your event.
3. Roles and Expectations for Volunteers
Make a list of all the roles you need to fill and include what the expectations are for each one. If the role requires expertise or prior experience, be sure to make those items clear as well. In addition, provide a list of the chain of command and the team leaders at each station. Examples of roles include:
- Information desk attendants
- Ushers and greeters
- Parking attendants
- Security and safety officers
- Food servers
- Refreshment and/or concession stand attendants
- Runners and floaters
- Setup and break-down crews
- Audio-visual assistants
- IT assistants
- Social media handler during the event
4. Volunteer Benefits
The bottom line is that your volunteers are working without remuneration. Their payoff lies in the experience and benefits they'll receive as they participate. For starters, let your volunteers know about meals, scheduled breaks, snacks, and free swag. Include information about awards nights and other special acknowledgements for exceptional volunteer work. Finally, highlight the long-term benefits of excelling as a volunteer during your event, such as networking opportunities or the chance to earn a glowing recommendation with future employers.
5. Volunteer Scheduling
You have a couple of choices here if you're using online technology (like InitLive!) to manage your volunteers. Allow for online self-signup when you can, as it lets your team members choose positions which will help them meet their own goals: making new friends, engaging with the public, or gaining experience they can add to their resumes. Another option is to schedule volunteers yourself after gathering all essential information about their qualifications.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article next week! In the meantime, for more information on creating amazing events through exceptional volunteer management, check out our resource page!