Music festivals manage to capture what many people crave – a shared community experience with like-minded people.
It’s a chance to step away from the monotony of normal daily life and be apart of something bigger than yourself. While festivals look fun and carefree to festival goers, they can involve long, labor-intensive hours for event staff and volunteers. Here are a few ways to avoid festival fatigue and take care of your volunteers:
The free ticket
We’ll just come out and say it – the primary reason many folks choose to volunteer at music festivals is to see great bands for free. The free ticket is a hallmark of the festival volunteer experience and a great way to draw an enthusiastic crew. Depending on the length of your festival, there are plenty of ways to tier festival access by offering passes to more sections of the festival based on number of hours worked. While the ticket is a way to get volunteers in the door, the music festival is so much more than a free pass. The experience is what keeps volunteers coming back.
Sell the volunteer experience, not just the perks
Two unique things about festivals come to mind: the behind the scenes peek and the people you meet. One of the best things about music festivals is getting to meet so many new people with common interests, perhaps from very different backgrounds. Plus, many volunteer opportunities cater to groups – so you may get to share the experience alongside trusted friends. Volunteers usually arrive early to help set up and get to see the camp come to life – from idea to bustling reality. They work alongside event coordinators, band crews, and sometimes the talent themselves. They’ll leave knowing they played a part in making the event happen and with a greater appreciation for event organizers.
But have perks for volunteers, too
Much of the festival experience happens between volunteer shifts. Offering volunteers the essentials – a place to camp, a place to shower, and free meal tickets – will not only help them rest before their next shift, but will also eliminate more cost-prohibitive factors of attending a festival. Don’t forget about the little perks, too! Free water, volunteer tents, and phone charging stations are essential during long shifts. Oh, and event t-shirts don’t hurt either.
Rely on past volunteer testimonials
No one understands the festival rush quite like volunteers themselves. Encourage prior volunteers to share their experiences – good and bad. Consistent feedback will help you know what to change for the next event and help highlight which aspects people look for. You can even invite a few trusted volunteers to write a FAQ for your volunteer information page.
Share photos and videos
There’s a reason for the common adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Getting volunteers to see your event and picture themselves there is key. Encourage volunteers to snap and shoot moments of their experience. You may try using a volunteer-specific event hashtag on Instagram and feature volunteer photos on your event account. Or, try a snapchat geo-filter for quick event-specific video sharing. Seeing the event through the eyes of the volunteer gives a unique perspective event photographers may not be able to capture.
Set realistic expectations
Volunteering at a festival isn’t only fun and games. While there are plenty of benefits, volunteers are required to do their fair share of heavy lifting – often literally. They may have to deal with difficult people, or work very early or very late. It’s important for event and volunteer coordinators to clearly explain what is expected for each shift block.
Proactive communication is a must to avoid volunteer burnout. Set a standard of clear communication from the start with a simple volunteer sign-up system. Here you can allow volunteers to note preferences, limitations, and see their respective duties in one place.
In the end, a little bit of chaos is inevitable. Festivals are about having fun – even for volunteers. Your festival’s success is tied up in your volunteer’s success and with these tips, it’s sure to be a good experience.