There's nothing like visiting the reception desk at your event to discover there's no volunteer there after all. It's the stuff event planning nightmares are made of, and most of the time, it's an event planning reality, too.
Considering the number of people you might be working with, every event is l
ikely to have no-show volunteers. Unfortunately, it's a big burden on event managers and supervisors who have to come up with a solution, and fast. Having a solid no-show volunteer policy in place is a great way to avoid this hiccup. Here are a few things you'll want to communicate to them:
1) BE EMPATHETIC
Don't create a culture of fear about not showing up; instead, express an understanding that life happens to the best of us: car accidents, blocked roads, alarm clocks don't go off, the dog throws up on the carpet just as you were getting ready to leave the house. We've all dealt with these inconveniences, so we know they can happen even when you're supposed to be volunteering.
When you're empathetic, instead of demanding, volunteers will be more motivated to give you notice if they can't be there.
2) EXPLAIN WHY IT'S IMPORTANT
Most volunteers are enthusiastic and committed to the project; others think it sounds like a good idea at the time, then they wake up the morning of the event and decide to roll over. When people sign up, explain (empathetically!) how important it is for them to be there: the success of the event depends on them!
3) CLEARLY OUTLINE THE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES
- There's a great deal of stress and inconvenience for managers and volunteers when a position is suddenly left open.
- The no-show volunteer loses his admission to the event.
- The no-show volunteer is no longer eligible to volunteer with you.
4) TELL THEM WHO TO CONTACT
Having your volunteers set up with an emergency point of contact is crucial. Even if it's five minutes before go time, and they realize "shoot I'm not going to make it" they will know who to inform. This is where a mobile volunteer management tool like InitLive comes in especially handy. Once the supervisor has been informed on where he falls short, he can then reassign volunteers, and communicate to the affected staff immediately.
5) FOR YOURSELF: KEEP AN ON-CALL LIST
When assigning volunteers, experiment with scheduling three in a station that really only needs two, does too many volunteers even exist?! That way, if another station faces a no-show, you can move the extra volunteer into place to save the day. Another option is to have on-call list prepared in case you need to have someone come in at the last minute.
No-shows are unfortunately a piece of the event planning puzzle, but by addressing it and preparing for it, you're making last minute panics much less frequent!
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