Volunteers are the unsung heroes of nearly every event. The average attendee may not realize that a large percentage of the staff is actually working on a volunteer basis. Why? Because they come to work with the same enthusiasm and dedication as someone on the paid staff and sometimes even more.
Volunteers are often passionate about what they are doing or at least the reason why they are doing it. That is why they are willing to freely give their time. Their generous attitude and hard work saves companies a substantial amount of money. If every volunteer who is at an event, whether it is a festival, fundraiser, or corporate event was a paid employee, it just might break the bank.
The key to building that perfect team is knowing why people are volunteering. Using that information, as well as some basic information about the volunteer, they can be put in the right position doing a job that is the perfect fit for them. This helps ensure that the volunteer is enjoying their time and that the event runs smoothly because of it. So why do people volunteer?
THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT A CAUSE
Finding people who are passionate about a cause is one of the best ways to guarantee a strong level of commitment. A volunteer who is highly-motivated by a cause is often willing to put in a great deal of work to help an event supporting that cause. They understand that the event is working towards goals that they themselves believe. It's almost as if the event is helping them as much as they are helping the event.
Attracting these types of volunteers will require developing some brand awareness. They have to first learn of your event, the cause it is supporting and then, learn that you are seeking volunteers. If it were to happen in any other order they might not be willing to offer their services.
To find passionate volunteers, you need to show that you're passionate. Use social media to get your message and your cause out to the public. Create thought provoking posts that are more likely to be shared. This will spread your message through the networks until the right people find it. Then, look for online discussion forums and groups that relate to your cause, share your passion by contributing stories, then mention your event and how you're looking for help.
Do not rely on those people to come to your page or site, or for them to email you for a volunteer position. If you see someone who is interested and commenting on a post, take the initiative and ask them to volunteer. People like being asked.
THEY WERE ASKED BY SOMEONE THEY KNOW
Speaking of being asked - how many of you have volunteered because you were asked by a friend for help? A great many volunteers show up at events because a friend, family member, or colleague asked them to come and lend their assistance. People like being asked and they are more likely to say yes if they know the person asking them. Invest the time to share the exciting aspects of the event and how their help will be invaluable, and you'll have them even more excited to volunteer.
When you've exhausted all of your direct connections, ask your existing team to ask people they know - particularly those who'd be a good fit for the job. Give your team the summary info that they'll need to spread the word. The easier you make it for them to share, the more likely they'll pass the message along.
THEY WANT TO BENEFIT THEMSELVES
Many volunteers offer their services because they have a driving desire to support a cause or help a friend. However, some of them have goals that center around benefiting themselves. This is not at all a bad thing. These people make good volunteers because they are benefiting in their own way from volunteering.
How they can benefit themselves will often depend on the type of event. For example, a corporate event is likely to attract some volunteers who are eager to network and gain contacts. They are going to work hard because they want to make a good impression. These same people might not be volunteering at your next wedding.
By knowing what your event has to offer potential volunteers, you can emphasize that strength to attract people. In the above example, let it be known what "network-worthy" individuals you have attending your event with the occasional Twitter post.
If you're planning a music festival or film festival, people may be attracted to volunteer because they have career goals that relate to that theme. They may want to be a stage manager in the future and are eager to get experience. Or, they may want to be close to the action and meet people who work in or near their desired field. And, perhaps they simply want to meet the special guests / celebrities that will be at your event.
HARD WORKING VOLUNTEERS GUARANTEED
In all of the examples above, you are guaranteed to secure some hard-working, enthusiastic volunteers. They may want to expand their network, to support a cause they believe in or to help a dear friend. In any case, they will give 110 percent. Be sure to give them a big 'Thank You' because without their valuable assistance, many events would not even be possible.
This post was written by guest blogger, Matthew Long, a successful businessman and event specialist. He is co-founder and CEO of Gigcentric.com, a company that provides professionals with event planning software designed to help run and grow their business.