The other day I had a conversation with a coworker about a crazy situation that happened leading up to a major event several years ago. She just said one sentence, and we burst into laughter as we recalled all of the stress and scrambling that happened behind the scenes.
Things like that have a way of growing funnier the more time passes, especially when the crisis is averted. But it brought up an interesting point. Since my coworker and I lived that stressful situation, we could recall all the details in an instant, and yet no one attending or volunteering for the event had a clue what happened. That happens a lot in our line of work, doesn’t it? Staff members put in a huge amount of hours and have crazy work experiences surrounding the event, but typically we keep the last-minute crises under wraps.
It’s often a necessary part of the job, but there are ways we can communicate with our volunteers in the days and weeks leading up to the event that can help both volunteers and staff be more efficient and prepared at the time of the event.
Transparency: Tell them what you and your team are doing
As previously stated, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes happenings that don’t need to be shared. But it can be helpful to communicate to your volunteers about the work you and your team are doing. Giving them a high level overview helps them understand the broad scope of event planning while also demonstrating how they fit into the grand scheme of things.
By sharing some of the details of your preparation and goals, your volunteers are both better ready to jump into the middle of things. They are also more prone to show grace to you and to others when the unexpected things derail the original plan along the way.
Share these details 5-7 days before the event in order to get your volunteers into the right mindset.
Preparation: Tell them what they should be doing
Let’s get practical! Communicate the necessary details that allow your volunteers to arrive with everything they need, including realistic expectations. List items to bring along, clothing recommendations, maps of the venue including meeting places, and other amenity details such as restroom locations and food and beverage options. When your volunteers show up prepared, they are more confident and eager to work while also more likely to have an enjoyable experience.
Share these details 3-5 days before the event to give your volunteers time to gather things they may need.
Teamwork: Tell them what you can be doing together
One of the best parts of coordinating volunteers in the age of social media is that you don’t have to do all the communicating yourself! Alert your volunteers of your organization’s social media posts so they can share it on their personal accounts. Or provide them with approved images and talking points, so they can create their own posts. Whatever approach you take, celebrate these little ways you can work in tandem with your volunteers before the event.
Share these details 1-3 days before the event to build buzz leading up to the big day.