Organizing a team of volunteers during an event is an inherently tough task. Volunteers are often the most self-motivated people around, which is mostly a positive, but that drive to get things done has potential downsides in the context of working with a larger team.
Being self-motivated sometimes leads to burnout. That hardworking personality type, always trying to get things done right, sometimes leads to disagreements. What's the best way to point your volunteer event staff towards efficiency, while making sure to keep the atmosphere welcoming enough to come back in the future?
Here's how to achieve a 5-star volunteer team for your event, in seven simple steps.
- Let your volunteers know they will receive a performance review.
Come up with a set of criteria and be completely transparent about what you hope your volunteer staff to achieve. Focus on the positive aspects of each criterion.
- Track completed tasks in real-time.
Volunteer management software, like InitLive, makes it easy to track volunteers and give feedback in real-time.
- Leverage that task data to incentivize good teamwork and performance.
Come up with ways, appropriate to your organization, to use goals/completed tasks to encourage volunteers to perform well in real-time, as well as incentivize returning in the future.
- Make sure all volunteers are thoroughly trained before the event.
Plan out as many of the details as you can beforehand, and get to assigning tasks long before the day of the event. Good planning means less friction, less friction means higher efficiency, and higher efficiency gives your staff a smooth volunteer experience they'll happily support again. As you prepare this training, be sure to make it fun for your volunteers and provide handouts that they'll remember.
- Let your volunteers in on your overall objectives.
Let volunteers in on as much of your expectations as possible. For example, for a fundraiser, tell them what level of donations you hope for. Volunteers work best when they know exactly what they're putting their effort into, rather than feeling like cogs in a machine.
- Remind volunteers as often as possible of your cause.
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, working as a volunteer can grind people down and feel like any other job. Always steer conversations and communications back to what it is all this effort is going towards.
- Encourage your volunteers whenever the opportunity is there.
Before, during and after the event, keep providing personalized, positive reinforcement. As they complete major tasks as a group, send push notifications to your team (InitLive is again useful here). After the event, take a look at your data for what everyone accomplished and send personal notes to your exceptional members, along with the usual mass messages thanking all staff.
By following these seven simple steps, you'll be well on your way to cultivating a base of volunteers that work efficiently as a team, and happily come back in the future to support the cause all over again.
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