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:
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.
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.
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.