Move Over, Portland

Boise just sat down at the cool kids’ table.

More commonly dubbed the “City of Trees,” Boise is shaking things up with a music festival that capitalizes on a burgeoning culture of art and music downtown. “We’re putting Boise on the map,” says Elizabeth Orcutt, Volunteer Coordinator for the annual Festival. “We want to let it be known that Boise is a cool place to stop and hang out!”

Treefort Music Fest


The Treefort Music Festival was founded in 2012 by Eric Gilbert, local musician, sound man and smooth-talker, dubbed by Orcutt as “one of the hardest working people in Boise’s music scene.” With producer Lori Shandro, the Treefort Music Festival earned its place in 2012 on the Boise line-up of must-attend events, with featured artists such as Of Montreal, Built to Spill, Typhoon, and Araabmuzik. Now in its second year, the Treefort Festival is getting more attention (and building more anticipation) than ever.

Photo cred: Devin Ferrell

“One of the cool things about Boise is our music and art scene,” says Orcutt. “The Festival has brought a lot of awareness to that–there’s a greater sense of people wanting to come out to shows even after the Festival ends.”

Last year’s Treefort Music Festival required around 220 volunteers, a number that Orcutt expects will grow to around 300 for 2013–especially considering the perks: volunteers receive a discounted pass, a unique volunteer t-shirt, and they’ll get to interact with the musicians throughout the Festival. Plus, with VolunteerLocal, it’s never been easier for Treefort volunteers to snag a coveted shift during their favorite performances!

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“VolunteerLocal has saved us days and days of work,” says Orcutt. “Last year, I coordinated our volunteers manually. I signed them up using a Google form and then scheduled them using spreadsheets and calendars.” She laughs, a little bitterly, as she recalls, “at one point, my entire kitchen table was covered with spreadsheets. It was intense.”

This year, the Treefort Music Festival is bringing the heat with a four-day lineup of nationally acclaimed artists, including Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Animal Collective, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, Camper Ban Beethoven, Dan Deacon, and YACHT performing on multiple stages throughout Boise.

You can buy your tickets at, or volunteer by clicking here.


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Training Your Volunteers

Whether your volunteers are answering phones on the emergency line, dishing up hot soup on Wednesday evenings in the church basement or passing cups of water to marathoners during the big race, they’ll need at least some degree of training–and it’s up to you to make sure they’re doing the job right. Follow these three simple steps to ensure your volunteers are psyched and ready for the task at hand.

Step, step, chassé!

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Make sure those volunteers know their moves. A training session should include a step-by-step of their actual job duties. Bonus points if you can bring in existing volunteers to give newbies the real low-down on how things will work. Do they know where to check-in when they arrive? Do they know what to bring? Who to talk to if they get lost or confused? Introduce the Volunteer Coordinator; it’s always helpful to associate a face with the name of the person who’s choreographing the big dance.

Repeat after me…

Your volunteers are the most visible representation of your organization; make sure they know the lingo. All your volunteers should be able to talk the walk in case they are interviewed by a media or news outlet. Equip each volunteer with a map of the event grounds or venue where they’ll be working, and make sure they can locate information booths and bathrooms on a dime. Always assess risk. If you’re running a beer garden or beverage tent, prep your volunteers on the importance of being honest. If there is the possibility of physical injury during your event, be sure to explain proper protocol to your volunteers. Liability less, volunteer more!

Status Updates, Tweets, and Posts–oh my!

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Welcome to 2013. Your volunteers will almost undoubtedly turn the volume up on your organization–through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, you-name-it. As representatives of your organization, be sure they understand the gravity and implications of what they post online.

My best advice? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Leverage social media to draw attention to your event or organization–create a hashtag you’d like your volunteers to use when they tweet about their experience. Share with them your Facebook page and encourage them to “Like” what you do online. Ask your volunteers to tag your event in their photos (you might even consider hosting a photo contest!). There’s nothing wrong with a little free publicity–just make sure it’s the right kind of publicity. You’re not Ke$ha: any attention is not always good attention.

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The Baby Fold – Festival of Trees

When a child is in crisis and other resources have ended, The Baby Fold is there. For 110 years, The Baby Fold has been a place of refuge and help for young children and their families. “Our services focus on improving the lives of children and families by building safe, loving, healthy environments through adoption services, foster care, residential care, special education and prevention services,” says Angela Doyle, the Special Events and Public Relations Coordinator at The Baby Fold. “We are in the ministry of transforming lives, and we never give up on a child.”

The Baby Fold embodies Christian principles to help families and children develop the hope, courage, and love they need to become whole and healthy.


From the East Coast orphan trains that brought abandoned children to the Midwest, to more recent challenges with autism and severe emotional and behavioral disorders, says Doyle, “The Baby Fold has been a source of transformational love for children over the decades.”

Located in Normal–the heart of Illinois–The Baby Fold plays host to the area’s premiere showcase of wintertime pomp, the Festival of Trees. This annual Festival features decorated trees in what Doyle describes as a “family-centered fantasy land.” Although traditionally held during the month of November to usher in the holiday season, the Festival of Trees certainly doesn’t lack the spirit of Christmas giving. Last year’s Festival raised over $150,000; in its 19 years, the Festival of Trees has raised nearly 2 million dollars for The Baby Fold overall.

“VolunteerLocal offered us a solution that better met the needs of our volunteers, our committee members and our staff, saving us countless hours (and from headaches wrestling with spreadsheets)!”


“The Festival is created around the magic of lavishly decorated, one-of-a kind trees,” says Doyle. But that’s not all–the Festival also features celebrity auction items, a gingerbread village, unique wreaths, entertainment and a host of special events and activities for children and families. “It’s decorations and light and music and warmth,” says Doyle. “All the blessings of the season, wrapped up in a 4-day enchanted time of wonder and fun.”

The Festival of Trees called for over 1000 volunteers to run the event, but with VolunteerLocal, the job was much easier done than said. Doyle adds, “the VolunteerLocal staff were always willing to answer questions and offer solutions.” We love happy volunteer coordinators!


Photos courtesy of The Baby Fold

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