How to Recruit Volunteers for Corporate Sponsored Races

Road races have quickly become a multi-billion dollar industry. While many nonprofits organize smaller races to simply fundraise for their causes, some races have become so huge that they must include corporate sponsorships either as a peripheral or integral part of their budget.


A huge budget doesn’t mean volunteers aren’t necessary, though. These races still need folks to operate water stations, welcome and register participants, and perform other small tasks throughout the morning. It’s important to note that there are potential legal issues surrounding recruiting volunteers as a for-profit organization. In order to avoid misleading or coercing volunteers into doing something they should be paid for, you can do a few things to make it worth your volunteers’ time:


Offer other organizations whose missions are analogous to yours a chance to be a charity sponsor. In exchange for providing a few volunteers the day of the race, another organization can have a booth and advertise at your event. This type of sponsorship takes time to arrange, but can lead to fruitful partnerships that last years!


Offer out-of-this-world swag. With your corporate sponsorship, you might have connections to truly great deals: coupons for spa days, exercise gear, gift bags, and more. You can also set up a volunteers-only raffle – if your volunteers know that the pool is limited, they’re likely to get more excited about their chances!


Offer event tickets – not only for your volunteers, but for their loved ones, as well. Corporate-sponsored races can often be quite expensive to enter, so the ability to get in for free is a huge plus. For example, one person in a married couple who wants to run the race could take the free ticket while their spouse volunteers. This way, the spouse gets to be there for support and the couple didn’t have to pay anything to be there.


Recruiting volunteers in a for-profit race can be sticky! But remember, the sport of road racing is absolutely taking off – there are plenty of folks who are interested in simply being there for the action. Emphasize a morning of togetherness, athleticism, and the awesome swag you’re going to offer them, and you’ll be inundated with potential volunteers.


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5 Tricks and Tools to Survive a Volunteer Fair

Volunteer Fairs are a common practice for employers and groups looking to connect their people with causes. But how can you stand out among a veritable smorgasbord of service opportunities? Keep these tools in mind when prepping for success at a volunteer fair.


A way to capture volunteer information: You can go old-school with a pen and paper general interest form. Or, if your organization has a tablet, consider encouraging them to sign up on-the- spot for specific event shifts using your VolunteerLocal page. (Just make sure you can access guest internet, or bring a mobile hotspot along.)

Treats & Takeaways
Lure the volunteer fair lurkers to the table with candy or swag. Think about ways to make them work for it, though. Come up with a few trivia questions about volunteer impact to inspire them to learn more. Brochures and handouts, or specific event postcards and fliers are helpful takeaways, too.

Smile and stand, if you can
Volunteer fairs can be exhausting for coordinators who want to keep up their pep for the entire event. Resist the temptation to work on e-mail or multitask during the event and try to make eye-contact as people walk by. If you can’t stand, think about a pop-up banner or tabletop display that gives your organization’s logo some added height.

Pickup lines aren’t just for the bar. It’s great to have a ready question or one-liner you can use to hook people in. They don’t have to be cheesy! “Did you ever have a mentor as a kid?” “Do you have an interest in fighting hunger?” “You look like you have some construction experience!” Sometimes you’ll get a laugh or a head-shake, but sometimes you’ll strike a chord and encourage an attendee to share a personal story about an affinity with your cause.

Enlist a familiar face
If you have an all-star volunteer from a corporation or organization where you will be hosting a table, see if she or he is available to work the table with you. Social capital goes a long way in recruiting volunteers. People will be surprised to see a colleague on the other side of the table, and you have someone who can give testimonials to how being engaged in your organization is meaningful to them.


Don’t forget to ask the volunteer fair coordinator the basics, if it’s not clear. You’ll need to know whether to BYO table, whether you have internet access, and a map of the space is helpful so you can plan ahead and pop up your display with ease.




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Building Community Among Your Volunteers

During an event, volunteers are a part of your team.

Creating a strong volunteer community can help retain and encourage them to do their best. Whether it’s offering perks or setting up group activities, fostering a close environment for volunteers could be the key to keeping them coming back. We’ve compiled some of our top ways to get your volunteers acquainted, engaged, and excited to be a part of the team.


Keep it Social
The first step to getting your volunteers “together” is to create a Facebook group for volunteers only. Not only does this offer an easy place to post updates and information about your event, but it also offers a spot for you and your volunteers to share photos of their experience.


Creating a hashtag just for your volunteers is a great way to help them share their experiences and link up with others. Giving volunteers a way to share moments will not only help to build your community, but will also result in awesome, on-the-ground social media content for your event.


Whether it’s a break from frozen toes or a moment to sit, sweat-drenched in front of a fan, everyone needs a minute to recoup – and we don’t mean the kind where you eat a sandwich behind the media tent. Designating a small area for volunteers is an easy way to make them feel like they’re valued members of the team. Throw some water bottles and a bag of chips in there and a small volunteer station is suddenly the volunteer VIP lounge.


And After the Party
Every volunteer knows that after a long day of helping out their favorite organization, they could probably benefit from a couple hours letting it all out on the dance floor. Why not treat your volunteers to the VIP experience with an after party? Snacks, beers, games, whatever, a little post-event party to blow off steam and talk about the day will have your volunteers remembering not only how great it was to help your organization, but how fun it was to party after.

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Designing the Perfect Flyer

Your volunteer recruitment poster is your chance to go all out!


Catching the public’s eye through smart design is your number one goal. Though your instinct may be to load your flyer with information, you actually want to do the opposite – put the bare minimum to get your message across. A picture may be appropriate in some instances – for example, a sympathetic image of people of different generations interacting might attract some of your audience – but it’s not necessary.


If you have volunteers or staff who have studied design, ask for their input – and make sure somebody proofreads your copy. You can find information about complementary colors, design software, and more with a quick Google search. And the limitations of Microsoft Word don’t need to inhibit you – there are many free programs that allow you more flexibility.


Happy designing!



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5 Tips for Better Communication with Volunteers

Volunteers are the life-blood to all community-based activity. So, how do you retain the best and the brightest volunteers to ensure your event is successful? Here are some tips:


Set Expectations

A job well done is a job well explained. This means communicating to your volunteers before the event so they can grasp the scope of their tasks within the larger organism of the volunteer body. Sometimes this is a group orientation (which is a great opportunity for team-building!), or a one-on-one training. Help them get set up so they understand the materials they are working with. Give them a point person who can answer their questions as they arise.  


Communicate with Volunteers

Perhaps this means you have a file sharing system for volunteers that houses crucial information like contact lists, itineraries, directions etc. Timely or regular reminders should be a rule of thumb. There are also modes of communication (like walkie talkies) where volunteers and coordinators can communicate without cellular interference. Any changes made to the routine of the event should be directly communicated to the effected volunteers.


Show Appreciation

Let’s start by saying that good communication is the best way to show appreciation. When a volunteer can clearly identify their task and collaborate effectively with their counterparts to carry out their time successfully, it creates a sense of self-accomplishment and teamwork. Keep a volunteer station where volunteers can take breaks if necessary and remind them to take care of themselves. A heartfelt, ‘Thank you for being awesome, and doing x, y, and z,” shows your volunteers that they’re not just a cog in the wheel, that you notice them and their dedication to deepening their relationship with their community. 


Ask for Feedback 

In many ways, volunteers are the sense-perception of the event. They see and hear much of what is going on. As you on the ground team, they have a highly involved sense of how things are going and what improvements can be made to make the job more efficient and effective. This is something that can potentially save valuable resources for future occasions. And you never know, they may just have that connection you’ve been hoping for.


Follow up

Never underestimate the power of a thank you note. To go the extra mile, host a post-party-wrap-up-session, or give each volunteer a memento. Whatever you do, use it as an opportunity to expand on the individual and collective strengths of all.

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How to Source Volunteers from the Community You Serve

An event is on the horizon and you know you will need a large group of volunteers. Where will they come from? If you’re serving a particular community, you should aim to recruit volunteers who represent that community. But how to recruit those volunteers? Before creating your team, it’s helpful to get a sense of the community. Will it be youth oriented? Does this make it a family event? Is the event for the arts? Awareness? Once these questions have been asked, it’s likely that there are already existing communities from which to suss out dedicated candidates because they will already share many of the same values.


Good places to start include local businesses, schools and other watering holes like studio spaces and community gardens. Often, companies will schedule a volunteer day for their employees as team-building through philanthropy. A student may be looking to fill a gap on their resume, or a club looking for a new activity. Contacting all such places helps bring a range of diversity while uniting people through a common mission.


Whatever the case may be, a good volunteer has a mix of a sense of their own mission and their experiences. Which is to say, that on some levels, the mission of the event and the mission of the individual must align. A good way of gauging how this might be is to look at your current volunteers. What keeps them coming back? What gives them a sense of teamwork? The most important thing to look for is someone who isn’t afraid to learn anything new, who grows from experiences.


It takes a village and the hope is to inspire volunteers and encourage community engagement. When people who live in the same area come together in a productive environment, it creates a stronger sense of the individual within the community. When these things become a community staple, it also becomes a legacy. And there is nothing more beautiful than trying to leave something for future generations.



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Why Use Volunteer Management Software

2017 called and it said to let go of your old Excel sheets and move to a quicker way to organize volunteers.

Volunteer management software conveniently takes care of the busy work volunteer coordinators are bogged down with, so you don’t have to sweat the small stuff.

It is the simple solution if you’re the person that spends hours over spreadsheets, groans over your inbox or stresses over scheduling volunteers.

From the convenience of your computer, the software streamlines processes like registering volunteers, moving around shifts and providing details like maps and work descriptions.

The process is easy: Simply create your event and the software will handle the rest. Volunteers can sign up for shifts they’re interested in, register with a buddy or easily change their times.

By easing your workload, the software gives you time to focus on other duties and reduce your labor and costs.

As for the volunteers, the easy-to-use service makes it even more convenient for them to find and sign up for a shift, encouraging them to come back again and again.

And you can easily send out a thank you email to them with a simple click.


A few of the things volunteer management software can do to help you:

  • Easily create jobs and shifts
  • Customize questions during registration
  • Send an automated follow-up email to a volunteer
  • Get notifications when volunteers sign up or cancel
  • Ditch paper waivers by including online waivers from volunteers
  • Keep track of phone numbers, addresses and important volunteer information


Even if you aren’t ready to let go of your Excel sheets, fear not. Software like VolunteerLocal makes it easy to export volunteer data, so you don’t have to glue yourself to your computer.

Trust us, your planner will thank you.




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Avoiding Volunteer Fatigue

You know that one person? The one who only ever talks to you when they need something? The one you see coming and then you immediately look for another person to talk to or an exit strategy? You start running through your mental schedule looking for the excuses to give when they inevitably ask you for your time or other resources…again. Eventually you just learn to be a completely avoidant person when they’re around just to be sure you don’t get sucked into another one of their projects. You know that guy? Is it just me? Don’t be that guy.


Volunteer fatigue and burnout are very real things. It can’t always be avoided, but there are ways to foster relationships with each of your volunteers to help them understand they are far more than just a warm body filling a role during events. Take a look at a few ideas below to see what strategies work best for your team.


Celebrate the Wins

It’s easy to joke about the people who ask for things all the time. But think through your volunteer emails. Are they always asking for more volunteers? It’s an easy trap to fall into. How can you diversify your email communication? Use your emails to share your latest accomplishments or interesting statistics. Send videos communicating organizational impact to your volunteers before you post them publicly. Of course there’s such a thing as sending too many emails, but strategic sharing with your volunteers demonstrates that you see them as part of the team and helps them gain a greater understanding of the work you are all doing together.


Acknowledge Each Volunteer

Find reasons to celebrate and connect with each of your volunteers in some way outside of your normal volunteer communication. This can be as simple as writing a birthday email or card for your volunteers. (VolunteerLocal’s birthday reminders make this easy!) Or set up a rotating schedule of writing thank you notes to your volunteers. Perhaps you are able to reserve one day a month to take different volunteers out to lunch or coffee. These face-to-face, casual interactions not only help your volunteers feel valued and affirmed, but they also help you know more about your volunteers and the lives they lead outside of your interactions.


Celebrate Together

Some of my favorite coordinator moments involve volunteer appreciation events. It does take some extra effort, but assembling your volunteers together to celebrate is a special way to say thank you and acknowledge the outstanding work of people who often go unrecognized. This is also a great opportunity to publicly promote high performing volunteers to volunteer captains or to hand out special awards, whether serious or otherwise. Volunteer certificates are a nice added touch and are available at VolunteerLocal! Regardless of how many volunteers are under your care, hosting an appreciation event is a fun way to show your gratitude and grow camaraderie among your team.

These are only a few of the ways you can nurture relationships with your volunteers, but each organization can tailor these methods to fit your volunteer culture. Take a few steps to elevate your communication beyond the ask and ensure you’re never that guy.




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How to Lead Volunteers Like Leslie Knope

Even Leslie Knope, the world’s best fictional coordinator from the show “Parks and Recreation” said, “No one achieves anything alone.”

That’s true for most things in life and it’s especially true when it comes to volunteers.


Volunteers serve as the lifeblood that keeps an event pumping, whether it’s handing out water at a triathlon or checking IDs at a music festival.


But in the hustle and bustle of an event, volunteers don’t just keep things flowing smoothly – they’re the eyes and ears for when something goes wrong.

Whether you’ve been coordinating volunteers for one year or 10, their feedback is crucial and serves as an opportunity to grow and make an event even better for the future.

A volunteer may witness an area where supplies ran out too quickly. An attendee may have come up to a volunteer and voiced their concerns about something.

These are all pieces of feedback coordinators should actively seek to not only keep their events running smoothly, but to keep volunteers returning for years to come.

Luckily, the ways of receiving feedback are plenty:


  • From the get go, encourage feedback from your volunteers. Whether it’s during orientation or an introduction, invite their voices.
  • Talk face-to-face with volunteers during an event. They can give you some real-time feedback in the moment.
  • Use social media as a tool for conversations. A convenient way for volunteers to give feedback is through Facebook groups or through direct messaging.
  • Send a follow-up survey. You can encourage candid responses by ensuring anonymity in their feedback.
  • Chat with volunteers during after parties. Show your appreciation by holding a get together for your volunteers and use the opportunity to hear from different voices.


Show gratefulness for volunteer feedback and work to incorporate their advice during your future efforts for even greater success. Because after all, like Leslie Knope says, “I care. I care a lot. It’s kinda my thing.”




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Design Tips for Digital Volunteer Recruitment

Have you ever gotten an email asking you to donate time or money, but when you click the link, the design is so overwhelming that it turns you off immediately? Volunteers want to be associated with organizations that really have it together – if signup is a hassle, users might assume that volunteering with you will be a hassle, too. There are many resources you can use to improve your company’s UX/UI design (usability and aesthetic), and VolunteerLocal is here to offer additional creative solutions.  


Start with a moodboard. This is a good way to hone in on how you want your content to look and feel. Pinterest is the place to begin – you can grab any image that speaks to you and visualize it next to other elements. For example, if your company’s colors are red and orange and the event you are promoting is a hike, you can search for forest images and color swatches and arrange them until the moodboard speaks to you.


Streamline the onboarding process. You want your volunteer to know the date, time, and requirements before you get their commitment – it doesn’t do you any good to have contact info for people who aren’t available or qualified for a job. You also want to ensure you don’t overwhelm potential volunteers by offering or requesting all the information at once. You can provide clarity by asking one or two questions per page, by arranging information in an easily digestible manner, and more.


Ensure your content and your brand are cohesive. If your volunteer signup page includes your company’s logo, colors, and general aesthetic, potential volunteers will feel confident about the event’s sponsorship and legitimacy. Conversely, a signup page that is just black text on a white background might have your volunteers asking – is this real? Am I giving my personal information to a third party? This is where VolunteerLocal comes in handy – our professional software can be modified to fit your organization’s look and feel.


Do user testing. This is key! The larger the group you can test, the better, but even just asking your friends or family will give you insight into how your content is received. There are many ways you can test usability – from just getting a feel for how others interact with your design to producing concrete survey results, usability testing will help you get more volunteers.


Your volunteers’ altruism has brought them far enough to be interested in your work – make sure you use the vast resources available to make their signup and volunteering experiences as straightforward and pleasant as possible!





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