Juggling On-Site Operations

We spend a lot of time focusing on the people-side of volunteer management, and for good reason! But for today, let’s focus on some of the underlying support systems that make your event run smoothly. In event planning there are some basic on-site tools and procedures to equip your staff and volunteers in the ways of efficiency, safety, and communication. 

Super exciting topics? Not necessarily. But let’s think of each of these topics as a ball in the air you must juggle. To keep anything (everything) from hitting the floor, you need to keep moving, stay balanced, and show confidence. It may not be the most fun part of your job, but you can do it! Let’s dig into some of the details.


Working your way through the logistics part of your event is crucial to success. Your guests want to have a smooth, simple experience. Yet we know that the easier something looks, the more planning it usually takes. Invest some time into mapping out all the procedures and tools needed to keep things working at the highest efficiency.

1. Identify and Outline Required Tasks

Tackling all the aspects of an event can be daunting. I know I’m guilty of avoiding jobs that seem overwhelming! But get everything down on paper. Not only does this allow you get a high-level view of the work yet to be done, but it also helps you see connections among the items that need to be accomplished.

2. Organize Task Orders

Once your list is complete, let’s put them into helpful categories. When you see related items, put them into a task order that helps you and your team know where to start and where to proceed. For instance…

  • In order for guests to have a smooth check-in experience, you need to have well-staffed gates.
  • In order to know how many volunteers you need to properly staff check-in, you need to know how many gates you’ll provide.
  • In order to figure out how many gates you should open, you first need to anticipate an expected volume of guests.

Great! Now you have a starting point to move forward.

3. Delegate

You’ve put in the time and work to capture all the task information and sort it into to-do lists. Now it’s time to get really efficient and delegate! Your work has equipped your team to carry it to completion.


Ok! Your tossing one ball in the air, and you’re doing awesome! Time to go to the next level. Safety is another topic that usually stays in the background until something goes wrong. When efficiency goes haywire, people are annoyed. When safety is mishandled, people get hurt. It’s worth your time! 

Keeping people safe starts with simple things like establishing a clear perimeter through permanent structures and portable fencing or implementing a bag check. When you’re training volunteers, outline different safety procedures like directing guests to safe locations in case of severe weather or how to convert an entrance into an exit in the case of an evacuation. By putting thought and effort into these situations before the event, you are able to confidently lead your team and successfully serve your guests when the time comes.


Juggling wouldn’t be juggling without a third item hurling through the air, right? Communication—the true power that drives efficiency and safety and allows you to be an effective leader on the day of the event. 

VolunteerLocal’s Happy Volunteering Blog has a plethora of resources for interpersonal communication, but make sure you’re also outfitted with the right tools to get things done. Make sure your team has access to radios, extra batteries, and relevant contact numbers. If you’re offering public Wi-Fi, it can be hugely beneficial to set up private Wi-Fi access points to keep your digital tools working well and to keep your team’s communication moving freely. With these tools and plans in place, you’ll be able to handle whatever your event throws at you and perform like a pro! 

Anne Summers

Anne Summers is a staff writer at VolunteerLocal. She loves good food, great people, and volunteering.