4 Core Traits to Look for in a New Volunteer Coordinator

There are many reasons why you might find yourself reading this article now. It could be that your previous volunteer coordinator moved away, leaving an empty seat at the team table. Or, perhaps your nonprofit has never hired a volunteer coordinator before and is now in a position to make that advancement.

Whatever the reason, there will be certain qualities and qualifications to look out for as you begin interacting with applicants. Let’s break it down.

What’s their “why”?

We’ve all heard this question in interviews: “Why are you applying for this position?” True, the question is an old one. However, in mission-driven work, it’s critical to understand a volunteer coordinator’s “why”.

There is no right answer, but at the very minimum, the position must mean more than a paycheck. For example, maybe they thrive in fast-paced work settings, or they love organizing groups of people to make a difference.

Volunteer management is hard work, and if there isn’t a value-packed reason why the person is showing up to work every day…they may one day not show up. Ask around, and I’m sure someone on your team will have some kind of insight into volunteer coordinator burnout. Which reminds me – once you find the perfect fit for the role, do your best to support and appreciate their work.

Communication skills

A volunteer coordinator will be in constant communication. The role requires close collaboration with the rest of the team, as well as with the volunteer base.

When interviewing an applicant, pay attention to how the conversation flows. Do they seem to follow the conversation easily, understanding your questions and engaging with them? Can you easily understand the heart of what they are saying when they speak with you? How personable do they seem? (We’ll get to that in just a moment.)

This is important because your team will need to convey short term and long term goals to the volunteer coordinator. Then, the volunteer coordinator will need to efficiently communicate those goals to the volunteers, synthesized through meaningful tasks, projects, and volunteer roles.

If an applicant has experience in teaching, tutoring, coaching, or some other kind of instruction, that is a great sign of their communication skills. Remember – their experiences in previous, seemingly unrelated jobs are relevant as long as they gained transferable skills from those experiences.

An authentic, inviting personality

We all want to work with a team of complementary personalities – hello amazing work banter! But in some positions, an amiable personality goes a longer way than in other positions.

Think of it this way – a volunteer donates their time and effort into furthering your cause. Volunteers are motivated by the joy of the work and the collective impact of volunteer efforts. Volunteers who are intrinsically motivated will be very much turned off by an unpleasant coordinator.

Personality traits to be cautious of include passive aggressiveness, a quick temper, inconsistency between what they say and what they do, and tendencies toward blame rather than accountability.

It can be difficult to spot any of these qualities during an interview, when they are (hopefully) at their most behaved. This is where references come in handy. As previous employers how this person behaved under pressure or in stressful environments.

On the flip side, look for strengths and skills that shine through in their personality. Are they welcoming and understanding, yet firm when needed? How well do they listen?

All this said, give your volunteer coordinator room to have an authentic personality – their own, beautiful, unique magic! Speaking from experience, I’ve personally continued volunteering at organizations much longer than intended, just because my volunteer coordinator was the glowing sun personified.


A volunteer coordinator can be perfect in every way, but if they are not organized, they might soon be overwhelmed by the commotion of the job.

Generally, volunteer coordinators are responsible for creating programs for volunteers, recruiting volunteers, orientation schedules, applicant tracking, shift scheduling, on-site leadership, and more.

With so many moving parts to the job, it’s important to look for signs of orderliness in behaviors. Do they keep a personal calendar? Do they show up promptly and on-time when expected? How are their email exchanges – sporadic or reliable? What is their familiarity with basic data management (not necessarily a requirement, but a huge perk!). Do they enjoy multi-tasking, or do they prefer to focus on one priority at a time? (There are no right answers to that question, but pay attention to their reasoning behind their answer.)

As mentioned before, volunteer coordinators are a critical team member of any growing, volunteer-powered nonprofit. Pull all the stops to keep them happy, well supported, and doing their best work. Sometimes, that means giving them the right tools and resources (and coffee…don’t forget the coffee).

So, full disclosure, this is where I recommend VolunteerLocal for easy, intuitive, organized volunteer management. For the peace of my own conscience, I should explain that my recommendation is more than just a plug.

At VolunteerLocal, we work with numerous clients transitioning from mega-monster spreadsheets and folders to our streamlined, web-based platform. My recommendation stems from the favorite part of my job – when I hear a volunteer coordinator’s sigh of relief (followed fast by celebration). Request a free 1:1 demo any time you like. We’ll be glad to share the magic with your team.

There are many other qualities you might be looking for in a new team member, but these four are what many organizations consider “core” to the new volunteer coordinator’s success in the role. I wish you the very best of luck finding that new team member. They’re sure to be a dynamic addition to the organization.

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7 Categories of Online Nonprofit Courses + Why You Need Them

Working for a nonprofit, whether as a staff member or a volunteer, opens a wide variety of opportunities. You can make a meaningful difference in the world in an area you love. To make the most effective impact, however, you need effective training and education in a wide range of areas.  To see the bigger picture and where your important work fits in, consider education in these seven areas:

  1. Mission. 

Nonprofits are all about their missions. As a volunteer or staff member, you’re likely there because of the mission. But it’s not good enough to say, “I want to stop cancer because my grandmother had it,” or “I enjoy music and I want others to, too.” That’s good. It’s well-intended. But it’s not what the people who benefit from your mission deserve. They deserve expertise

Becoming expert in your mission’s discipline enables you and your colleagues to see beyond the obvious benefits of your nonprofit’s role. You work for a concert hall and enjoy music. Great, but why? Are there psychological benefits? What determines your audience’s preferred genre? How does the business of music impact what you can offer and when? 

It’s a good idea to direct your nonprofit team (both paid staff and volunteers) toward any online courses relating to your nonprofit mission so that each individual has a solid foundation of knowledge to build from. The more expertise you build, the better you can offer exactly what your clients want and need. 

  1. Empathy. 

And speaking of clients, what are their lives like? It’s essential to see your mission from your client’s point-of-view. If you work in a home for people with spinal cord injuries, can you work a day in a wheelchair? Now you see the physical barriers and emotional obstacles in their life from their point-of-view. You may not be able to see everything, but you get a taste of what you need to do to serve them better. Your empathy will give power to your advocacy.

That being said, you might want to invest in some high-quality online courses to better educate your team on your client base. 

  1. Revenue

Nonprofits run on revenue. Don’t be afraid of this. There’s a revenue-earning method for every nonprofit, and every personality. Start with knowing your options, and determine what makes an option best for you. Do you have volunteers who love to go to parties? Consider events – whether in person or virtual. How about entrepreneurs? Maybe your nonprofit should consider a business venture, like a thrift shop? Are you writing geeks? Then grants. 

And don’t be afraid to volunteer to help raise money. Consider that in the worst-case scenario, you might have to ask. But how long does it take to say, “can you help our mission with a gift….?” And for your prospect to respond? Ten seconds, tops. But you even don’t have to do that to help. Can you provide an introduction? Can you give a tour? Can you write a thank-you note? There are LOTS of ways to help raise money that has nothing to do with asking.By providing access to powerful online resources about fundraising and revenue-building to educate your team, you can ensure everyone knows how they can help most effectively.

  1. Accounting

You have money from all that great revenue generation. Now it’s time to spend it, right? Not so fast. You have a budget, and maybe that’s a pledge over time, so there’s cash flow to worry about. It’s essential to grasp the basics of how money moves through your organization.  But it doesn’t end there. For a nonprofit, accounting is about more than budgets and cash flow. It’s about transparency

If world peace was declared on the same day someone accused your nonprofit of misspending funds, which would take the headline? Peace would wait. 

In the end, nonprofit accounting is about the public’s trust. It’s never enough to say you spent your money right. You have to prove it through proper nonprofit accounting. And to avoid mistakes and scandals like these, it’s a good idea to make sure your whole team has a basic knowledge of key accounting basics such as through educational online resources.

  1. Technology

Technology isn’t about big information systems anymore. It’s about having the skills to express your nonprofit’s mission through a PowerPoint, or sending out a short video about your nonprofit’s latest accomplishment on Facebook. Can you leverage the latest program to ask for donations through a text message, or hold a committee meeting on video? 

These aren’t optional skills anymore. Luckily, there’s an online course or two available for pretty much any tech skill you might need to learn!

  1. Marketing

It annoys a lot of people to think that everything is about marketing, but it is. How you answer the phone. The signature line on your email. What you tell your neighbor about your nonprofit. The furniture in your waiting room. They all form an impression of your mission and your competence to deliver that mission – whether your phone-answering skills have anything to do with your mission or not! 

But nonprofits carry a special burden in their marketing. While in most businesses, the person or company who pays for your service or product is the same one who uses it, chances are in a nonprofit, they’re different. The “customer” using the service, whether you call that person a client, patient, student, constituent, or something else, pays at most just a part of the service provided. Others tend to pay the rest. 

For example, a homeless person probably won’t be asked to pay for their night’s lodging in the shelter. The nonprofit would ask a donor or earn the money through their annual holiday ball. Even students at nonprofit-backed universities or patients at nonprofit hospitals don’t pay the full cost of the services provided. Donors, bookstores, gift shops, food service, and insurance, and donors all pick up some of the tab.    

So, it’s not just that a nonprofit does marketing, it’s important to consider to whom they are marketing – the one who uses the service, or the one who pays for it. The right online resources can help you make those distinctions and learn more about implementing an effective marketing strategy.

  1. Leadership

By their nature, nonprofits are about leadership. All nonprofits exist to address, and take leadership, in some area that either government or businesses don’t. Was there a disaster? The Red Cross is on the ground. Is pollution running into a neighborhood creek? Look for your local watershed association to take the lead. Does your school need a playground? How about the parent-teacher organization? 

There’s also leadership within your nonprofit. Nonprofits are known for being very “flat” organizationally. In other words, when compared to business and government, there tend to be fewer people in the hierarchy. Why? There’s great pressure to put as much as possible into the mission itself. 

What’s that have to do with leadership? Ever hear a nonprofit worker say, “I wear many hats”? Nonprofit staff and volunteers are asked to take on many more responsibilities than the equivalent person in other organizations. Therefore, in some form or another, everyone is a leader in some aspect of their work. They may not be standing at the head of the organization, shouting “charge!” but they could be one volunteer leading a team of others, or a staff person leading a team of staff and volunteers on a special project. In nonprofits, there’s leadership room for everyone.

And what encourages nonprofit volunteers and staff members to take the next step to becoming nonprofit leaders? You guessed it—online courses.

So here’s the big question: can you run, work or volunteer for a nonprofit without the above? It’s possible, but as you get to know your clients and their needs, you’ll want to serve them more effectively

You’ll want more expertise in your mission, to see things through your community’s eyes, find money to do more, build the public’s trust in your work, use technology more efficiently, communicate your mission farther and wider, and better lead your team. 

It won’t happen all at once, but it can happen by embracing ongoing education for you, your friends, and your colleagues. 

About the Author: Matt Hugg

Matt Hugg is an author and instructor in nonprofit management in the US and abroad. He is president and founder of Nonprofit.Courses (https://nonprofit.courses), an on-demand, eLearning educational resource for nonprofit leaders, staff, board members and volunteers, with hundreds of courses in nearly every aspect of nonprofit work.

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VolunteerLocal Product Updates: 5 New Features to Support Your Work

What a year this has been.

Our team at VolunteerLocal has been hard at work, enhancing our product to better serve our customers during this unique time and for years to come. The last six months have brought a slew of new features and functions, many of which are included at all plan levels.

I’ve outlined these new features below and encourage you to reach out via the form below with questions, feedback or to schedule a video call with someone on our team.

Volunteer Applications

You can now build a centralized application that all volunteers complete as a part of your sign-up process.

  • The application can include unlimited questions of varying formats, including file uploads and profile pictures.
  • Volunteers who are approved can self-schedule into events using their first name and email address. Yes, we are a still a password-less platform!
  • Existing volunteer records can be imported directly into an applicant-pool.

Application Status

Applicants can be assigned a status value to be used for tracking and limiting access to shifts. We call this an “application status.”

  • Volunteer statuses drive later eligibility. For example, a profile status of “Approved” can be required for volunteers to register for events.
  • A volunteer’s status value can be used to allow or deny the volunteer’s ability to schedule a shift. For example, a status of “Denied” would keep a volunteer from seeing an event’s shifts.
  • Available statuses can be customized to fit your workflow: Approved, Denied, Pending, etc.

Background Checks

We know that many volunteer positions require a background check, and we’ve partnered with a company called Verified First to provide affordable, integrated background checks through VolunteerLocal.

  • Verified First has a Chrome extension (download it here) that integrates directly into your VolunteerLocal Report.
  • Volunteers’ background check results are visible within the report, and will automatically “expire” after a specific time-frame (1-3 years, depending on your state requirements).


Volunteers can indicate their special skills, interests or certifications at the time of application, or this data can be maintained exclusively by administrators. Qualifications can be used to determine which jobs are visible to a volunteer.

  • Qualifications can be unique to your organization. For example, electrical work, a CDL driver’s license, or a massage therapist.
  • Jobs can require one or more qualification(s) – those positions are only visible to volunteers who are eligible/qualified to do them.

Template Messaging – Emails and Texts

You can now create (and save) template messages, for both email and SMS.

  • Template messages can be sent to individual volunteers from within their profiles.
  • These templates can include smart-tags: first name, last name, job info, volunteer profile link, etc.
  • Templates can be visible to other administrative users, but the ability to edit a template can be restricted to just the primary administrators.

These are just some of the changes we’ve rolled out in the last few months, but by far the most significant. Each offers unique benefits and we hope you can take advantage of them!

If you want to learn more about these features on your own time, check out our FAQ and YouTube Channel.

Did you know we have a weekly newsletter that specifically highlights our product? Subscribe to our Friday Tips Series newsletter here.

Contact us to learn more or schedule a product demonstration with a real person.

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What’s on the Horizon for Volunteer Programs?

The year 2020 has expedited many changes to the structure and function of volunteer programs. Our team here at VolunteerLocal has researched and organized industry insights over the last 6 months, with a specific focus on how volunteer programs are evolving with the times.

First, let’s examine the forces, big and small, that are motivating these changes. Although this is not an exhaustive list, the following represent many catalysts of change:

  • COVID-19 (what you might call the “mega catalyst”)
  • BLM protests
  • Growing base of younger volunteers
  • Technology


It comes as no surprise that COVID-19 has caused the most change to volunteer programs in the recent past (and present). The outbreak of the pandemic has brought volunteer programs to a complete halt in many cases, and forced other volunteer programs to scramble for a solution.

What might be more of a surprise, however, is how it has inspired quite positive, innovative change to volunteer programs.

For example, volunteer roles have diversified (even more on that in a moment!). Volunteer roles have become increasingly off-site, rather than on-site, as we realize that volunteering does not need to be confined to any particular set of four walls.

For example, more volunteers are being recruited for driving, delivery, and transportation roles — delivering supplies or even transporting volunteers safely (the keyword is “safely”) from one place to another.

Another “new normal” — forgive the buzzword — appears to be the idea of volunteering from home. Volunteer materials are mailed directly to volunteers’ homes, so they may complete their duties from the comfort (or quarantine) of their living room!

Mailing materials directly to volunteers invites a wider audience of volunteers to be engaged in the work they care about, as it makes your volunteer program more accessible to volunteers in various living situations and medical conditions. For example, volunteers who are unable to find transportation to your site, unable to volunteer during the hours you are open, or unable to work productively from your site for medical reasons — all of these folks can volunteer right from home.

Quick tip: Each community is different. Find out why people in your community choose not to volunteer. Then, see if your organization can meet that need/obstacle. There are many ways to go about collecting this information, but the easiest might be to ask your current volunteers for feedback along the lines of: “We are doing market research to better support our volunteers and our volunteer program. Reflecting on some of the people in your own social circle, could you share what obstacles/concerns they might have about volunteering?” Of course, speaking directly to those people would be best, but this should get the ball rolling!

COVID-19 is also helping us address needs and opportunities alike in our volunteer programs. To reflect on a few more: How did your organization first react to the crisis? Do you now have emergency protocols, or even a new position for crisis management? Have you identified the vulnerabilities within your program? Did you notice anyone who rose to the occasion unexpectedly?

BLM Protests

Although the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements were born long before 2020, BLM has rightfully received much more attention this year. The BLM movement has given us much to reflect on and improve upon as community organizers and coordinators.

For practical starters, these protests have demonstrated how to gather large groups of people, while still minimizing risk of COVID-19 spread and exposure. Protesters wear masks, sometimes gloves, and carry their own signs/materials without exchanging them with another person. The protests are held outdoors, where there is good air circulation. Importantly, the protesters are informed of the risks and are motivated to keep each other safe. Research has shown that these protests — unlike other gatherings we’ve witnessed over the recent months — have not contributed the the spread of COVID-19. (Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020)

Furthermore, the movement itself has called attention to the systems within our own organizations, teams, and businesses. It has called for work that is overdue for many of us. Remember — tough questions can inspire needed, positive change. For example:

  • Is our leadership and team representative of the community we’re serving? In what ways? How can we improve this?
  • Are our goods, services, and job opportunities accessible to all, including those who have disabilities or socioeconomic barriers to access? If the answer is yes, yet you still do not see adequate representation in your programming or team, then there may be more subtle psychological or environmental factors preventing access. Reflect on how a person might feel upon arrival — welcomed, understood, intimidated, threatened, overwhelmed, at ease?
  • How can we use our organization’s powers, assets, resources, and privileges to support the BLM movement?

Growing Base of Younger Volunteers

As you may have noticed over the years, Millennials and Gen Z have knack for identifying their core values and promptly getting involved to advocate for them. A lot of this translates directly to a increase in this these generations’ collective volunteer efforts and monetary donations. (Monetary donations are largely sourced from Millennials, as the Gen Z population is still working toward financial independence.)

Volunteer coordinators who have noticed this trend have been riding the wave, maximizing their appeal to younger generations, and as a result, watching their volunteer programs improve in a number of ways:

  • Organizational adoption of technology solutions (more on this in the next section!)
  • Opportunities with varying commitment levels
  • Embracing & harnessing unique skill sets

As inspiring as younger volunteers are, they can also be known to be commitment-wary. Don’t write it off as a bad thing just yet! Introducing, the rise of “micro-volunteering”.

Micro-volunteering consists of small, bite-sized tasks, with no commitment to repeat. The tasks are usually informal, involving short, specific
actions that are quick to start and finish. Not only does micro-volunteering appeal greatly to younger generations, but it is also easy to promote and fulfill.

To make the abstract a bit more concrete, examples of micro-volunteering include: taking a feedback survey, leaving a review/testimonial, running an errand, signal-boosting and engaging with social media content, or being a brand ambassador.

Micro-volunteering could also involve small projects that utilize a volunteer’s unique skill. The age of the internet has empowered many to seek their own education in fields like graphic design, marketing, SEO, and computer science — whether via academic courses, online classes, or even YouTube videos. Younger generations are solution-seekers, powered by technology and personal values. They’d surely be a welcome addition to any volunteer program.


A more focused analysis of technology is a natural transition now, as it is closely linked to the understanding of Millennial and Gen Z volunteers. Beyond that, however, technology has fortified many volunteer programs with the organization, scheduling, and communication strategies necessary to keep things moving smoothly. (I say that not in hopes of selling to you; rather to celebrate the rise of game-changing tech solutions.)

From start to end, there is a technology solution for just about every need your organization might have. That is not to say that you should utilize every technology solution that is available…that quickly becomes overwhelming, expensive, and a total mess of open tabs in a web browser. Instead, I encourage you to envision technology as a library of resources, right at your fingertips.

Donations? Boom, that’s digital now. Recurring donations? Also a thing! Donor management software? You got it!

Rinse and repeat the above Q&A with the same level of enthusiasm, but swap out the topic with: volunteer management, vendor management, marketing/outreach management, etc. You’ll start to get the picture of technology’s impact in the nonprofit space.

“So broad, so abstract…” you might think, and you’re right! Let’s get more specific.

To be fair, technology solutions in the nonprofit space is a vast topic in its own right. Nevertheless, to measure how your organization and volunteer program has evolved with technology, you might ask yourself these questions:

  • Have we ever hosted a virtual event? (2020 is the year to do it!)
  • Have we offered any virtual volunteer positions?
  • Do we facilitate remote volunteering?
  • Can volunteers perform any volunteer-related tasks online, such as scheduling shifts, checking in/out, or logging hours?
  • What methods of communication are we utilizing? Email? Text?
  • Is volunteer information scattered among a series of folders and spreadsheets, or organized securely in a cloud-based database?

Technology can certainly be overwhelming, so set just one or two goals with your team. Work toward them together, one celebrated baby step at a time. If our team at VolunteerLocal can help, just say the word!

Reflecting on your own volunteer program, have you noticed any of the changes mentioned in this article? Continue to be mindful of your team’s reactions to these changes — including the reactions of your volunteers! Change can be nerve-wracking, and as a leader within your organization, you might explore ways of communicating change positively so that no one is left feeling discouraged.

2020 has been a year of incredible pressures to say the least, but sometimes pressure welcomes long-term change for the greater good. In your own reflections, or perhaps after reading this article, we hope you find a few glimmers of shine in an otherwise cloudy year.

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A Reflection: Volunteering Transformed

I’m a giver. Sure you may call it codependent, but I like to think of it as giving.

I tend to prioritize other’s needs above my own. The good is that I get a lot of satisfaction out of volunteering.  The bad, well, I’d be more than happy to share with you details about the bad part, but only if I could pay for an hour of your time once per week.

I started volunteering at a young age. As a kid I’d spend summer days supporting physically disabled kids with my mother instead of hanging out with my friends. I spent Thanksgivings feeding the less fortunate. 

At an early age volunteering became an embodiment of who I am.

I give to the homeless. I always acknowledge those less fortunate and feel awkward when I walk by without giving them a little something.

I volunteer for shelters, community efforts and various non-profits. I go to events and work 10-12 hour volunteer shifts for days on end with nary a complaint.

But then a global pandemic descended upon us and suddenly things have changed.

It’s weird. When other disasters have hit in the past, I’d be driven to volunteer. Immediately after the Northridge quake I began efforts to search and rebuild.  The morning after the Rodney King LA Riots, I went down to Watts and Compton and started cleaning and rebuilding.  I did fundraising after 9/11 and food drives in the 2008 recession.  I am always eager to help and give back.

But in a global pandemic?

No thanks.

 I’ve found myself in an uber-selfish mode. I  am scared to help.   I am more hesitant to give to the needy because I don’t want to risk sickness. I am more hesitant to volunteer for organizations or events because I don’t want to be in crowds.   But the irony of this is that one of the most selfless things one can do these days is to avoid volunteering in crowds with others.  It’s important that we don’t co-mingle until we’re on the other side of COVID-19.

However, once there is a vaccine, will my mindset change?  It’s so easy to be selfish, to stay stuck in my own little world.  It’s so easy to stay scared even when the fear should subside.

In the end, we still don’t knows the long term impact this virus will have on volunteering. 

Because of it’s ease in spreading disease, cash is quickly becoming a thing of the past. If we move even further to a cashless society, what happens to the homeless and mentally ill who live off the generosity of others?

Will it be more difficult for events to get volunteers to help? Have we just knocked off the entire 65+ age group from ever volunteering again?

Will face masks and gloves be common place for volunteers? Health checks for all? Will higher risk people stop volunteering for fear of disease? Will healthy people stop volunteering for fear of the higher risk people?

The supplies alone may cost more for organizations to prepare for volunteers. So the ones who can’t afford the supplies – the ones who are in most need of help – may have the hardest time getting volunteer support.

I definitely can’t see into the future but I know how I feel now. And my feelings are currently on the “heck no” side of the desire to volunteer spectrum.

I suspect that will change as time goes by. But we are in a time of cultural transition, the result of which could be a significant shift in human behavior.

We are being secluded on our homes. We are rightfully being fed fear of physically interacting with others.

But we can lose site of who we are are and soon, I can only hope, the selfishness currently required to survive transforms back into an urgent need to help. And once again we can volunteer.

About the Author: Jeff Matlow

Jeff is the founder of imATHLETE.  He’s got a really good newsletter about best practices that you should sign up for here: bit.ly/IAmJeff

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Technology & Events: Planning for the Best & Preparing for the Worst

This is a guest blog post from our friends at Saffire, a platform for integrated, contact-less ticketing for events and venues. Thank you to Cassie Roberts Dispenza for leading a webinar on this topic and sharing her final thoughts here!

As 2020 continues to go on (and on and on and on!) most of our friends in the event industry have been impacted in one way or another by the Covid outbreak. For almost everyone, this means cancelled events and lost revenue. At Saffire, we are constantly looking for ways that technology can afford new opportunities for our clients and this year is no different! While some of the tools available to you may not be your first choice in producing events, we’ve come to terms with the fact that in order to survive we all have to adapt to the opportunities available.

Here are just a few ways that you can use technology to turn your brand in to a revenue producing machine in 2020:

  • Ecommerce – Even if your event was canceled, there are still SO many things you can sell online. Create a “festival in a box” with goodies from your 2020 event and your sponsors. Allow patrons to support you with donations with tools like Patreon. Typically on these transactions, small gifts are given to donors, which can be a way to encourage donations. (Think like a bumper sticker for a $2 donation or a T-Shirt for a $20 donation, etc.) You can also set up virtual shopping on your website with your vendors. Drive up “to go” festival food events have also been profitable for many of our clients. You may even be able to sell tickets to next year’s event super early! We’ve seen the most success with people who offer a generous refund policy. Use your online carts to their fullest potential!

  • Socially Distanced Events – While you may not be able to manage a virtual or socially distanced event the same way as you would an in person event, we’ve seen a lot of festivals have success. In virtual races, participants are encouraged to bike or run at their own convenience on their own route. They are often still mailed a race t-shirt or medal once they’ve completed a race. Other socially distanced events are becoming popular too—you can arrange for drive thru Christmas or Fall Festival displays or drive in movies. Online registration or tickets are easy to implement through your own website, ticketing provider or services like Google Forms. Virtual events via Vimeo and Facebook Live can also generate revenue for events you may host live on social media. Even if you don’t do a password protected event, revenue can still be generated via tips or donations on apps like PayPal or Venmo. In many cases, viewers like this low pressure option to be able to donate an amount they prefer as they’re watching, rather than having to buy a ticket in advance.  
  • Social Media – Our tried and true social media accounts can serve as a way to stay connected to our loyal followers on any of the above intiatives, even if you didn’t get to see them in person this year. Invite a sponsor or two to host a contest – give them credit and give prizes to your followers! It keeps your sponsors engaged and may be a way to keep some of your commitments to them for 2020. Social media ads are drawing a lot of attention right now because everyone is glued to their devices! While many brands have held back on ads, we encourage you to move forward with yours! (Making sure your messaging is considerate of the times of course.) Since ads are not in as high of demand right now, they may actually be less expensive. Finally, make sure to utilize stories and Live features as “in the moment” content. This is what your audience is most likely feeling like they’re missing at the moment—something with human contact!
  • Software Advancements – If you are authorized to have an in-person event in 2020, it’s possible that there will be new regulations for event capacities to control crowds or more advanced selling systems to avoid the exchange of cash. Many technology & ticketing companies are offering new ways to manage these requirements with things like capacity tracking software and contactless selling terminals. Often times having these types of systems in place can help convince your local officials that you are prepared to host events safely again!

It takes a little creativity and thinking outside the box to launch safe and legal events during these times, but the extra efforts can really pay off. You may even uncover new ways to make or save money that you will carry with you in to future years of your event.

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