T-shirts are a great way to help people identify your staff and volunteers, and it gives each person a little take-away from the experience. It's a simple addition to your event, but it can't be an afterthought. Staff and volunteer t-shirts, too, require a little planning, but it's no big deal as long as you get a jump on it.
Start the process early. You might do everything right, but you want a little wiggle room in case the t-shirt printers drop the ball.
Now, you've got choices!
Offer a wide range of sizes, and it's nice to offer shirts in both men's and women's styles. This is key: ask your volunteers for their sizes as they sign up to volunteer. This saves trying to get a hold of everyone later and cuts the risk of ordering incorrectly.
If the event has a color scheme, you might choose t-shirts that go with that (or that go against it, if you need to differentiate your volunteers). You could also consider choosing different colors for people in different roles. For example, black t-shirts for security, green for registration, blue for cashiers, and so on.
If the event has sponsors, you might want to put donor logos on the backs of the shirts. Make sure you clearly specify the logo requirements (size, file type, colors) and collect them early.
With or without those logos, you'll need a design for the front of the shirt. You might have it say "Volunteer" or even which type of volunteer. You could include the event logo or a clever saying. Remember that the more colors you include on the design, the more expensive it will be to print.
Get quotes from multiple companies. T-shirt printing prices can vary a lot, so you want to make sure you're getting the best deal at the level of quality you need.
Determine how many extra shirts you need to order. And yes, you will need extras, because a couple of volunteers might forget their shirts, or they might have ordered sizes that don't fit right. You also want to make sure you're covered in case you have some drop-in volunteers.
After that, decide how you're going to distribute the shirts to your volunteers. If you have an office or headquarters, you might allow them to pick them up during business hours before a certain date. You could mail the shirts to each volunteer, though that could get expensive if you have a large volunteer staff. Of course, you could just give them the shirts on the day of the event. (Bonus: no one can forget them that way, except for you! But you won't. Right? Right.)
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