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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Exploring Your Toolkit: Little Known Features in VolunteerLocal

We all know the saying, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!” Luckily, VolunteerLocal equips volunteer coordinators with a whole toolkit to manage, schedule, and communicate with volunteers. Today, we’re showing some love to a small batch of often-overlooked features with big impacts.

Search Tool

Where to find it: Volunteers > Search

This one is fairly well known. However, did you know that you can search for volunteers not only by their name and email address, but also by keyword? As long as the information exists in their volunteer profile, you can zero-in on it using the Search tool. 

Scheduled Messages

Where to find it: Volunteers > Communication

Write up your email (or text message), then click “schedule for later” to send the email at a date and time that you indicate. For example, let’s consider reminder emails. Before, you’d need to create a reminder for yourself, just to remind your volunteers of an upcoming shift! Ironic, huh? 

With our “schedule for later” option in the Communication tools (email and SMS), you can schedule all of your reminder emails in one sitting. 

Hidden Fields

Where to find it: Events > Your Events > Volunteer Information

The volunteer information page allows you to create a custom registration form. Collect any information you need from your volunteers upon sign up — their name, phone number, emergency contact, and just about anything else you can think of!

However, you can also create “hidden” fields in this volunteer information form. These fields cannot be seen by the volunteer — only you and other admin users on your account! For example, you might want to take notes on a volunteer as you discover their skills and interests. Or perhaps you want to mark whether they’ve been approved for certain volunteer positions. All of these fields can be created as a private, hidden field.

Volunteer Profile Options

Where to find it: Account > Settings

Make your volunteers’ profile feel like home! Customize the header content of every volunteers’ profile, complete with a warm thank-you, further instructions, or more information about your organization.

Cancelled Volunteer Reports

Where to find it: Home > Dashboard > Customize Your Dashboard

When this feature is enabled, you’ll be able to review a report of all volunteers who cancelled their signups, along with the event/job/shift they cancelled, and the timestamp of the cancellation. This way, you can consult these records anytime you need to track a volunteer’s cancellation history. 

If you’d like to learn more about any specific tools and features in VolunteerLocal, send us an email (! We’ll show you exactly how to make magic happen with that tool in your tool kit. 

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Strategies & Tools for Volunteer Programs of All Sizes

Behind any team of volunteers are strategies and tools that help keep things running smoothly on a daily basis. Volunteer coordinators have a lot on their plates already, which is why tools and strategies can be so valuable; they streamline the complicated and organize the disorderly. With the right tools, volunteer coordinators can save time, keep their volunteers happy, and even grow their volunteer base. Take a look at our list of resources that volunteer programs of all sizes could use to stay coordinated.

Small volunteer programs (little to no budget, a few volunteers):

If your program only has a handful of volunteers, you will likely be able to manage them all with a simple set of tools and strategies. Priorities include easy communication, team accountability, and vision.


  • Weekly meetings: with small teams, it is more feasible to block off a time in everyone’s calendar for a team meeting. These meetings ensure that the team is moving forward in-step with each other, feeling positive about the time they’re contributing to the organization, and have a close connection with leadership.
  • Goal-setting: in a smaller team, more responsibility falls on each volunteer’s shoulders. It can be easy to get carried away in the day-to-day work and lose sight of bigger, long-term goals. Establish a practice of goal-setting (and check-ins) to better ensure progress on important initiatives.


  • Google Forms: This is a free tool that can be used in a variety of ways. Use it to report monthly progress, accept new volunteer applications, or even propose new projects for the team.
  • Google Drive: Another free resource! Share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with your team, all in one shared workspace.
  • GroupMe: You can use this free app as a way to quickly text your group of volunteers. This app is most effective with small teams.

Medium volunteer programs (limited budget, >20 regular volunteers)


  • Track Hours: Medium and large sized volunteer programs benefit greatly from tracking hours. For nonprofit organizations especially, these hours can earn your organization donations, grants, and community recognition (which can lead to more support).
  • Volunteer Orientations: At this level, it becomes more difficult to have a close relationship with each volunteer individually. Therefore, it’s important to introduce volunteer orientations or “welcome sessions” in order to introduce yourself, share any needed information, and set the right tone.
  • Volunteer Check-Ins: schedule 15-minute check-ins with as many volunteers as possible. Grow a connection with each volunteer, and learn what they are enjoining (or not enjoying) about their position. This is an investment in long-lasting, quality volunteer relationships. Check-ins can be on the phone, on Zoom, or in person.


  • Trello: This free web tool allows teams to track progress on collaborative projects, assign deadlines, and trigger email notifications. For volunteer coordinators, this is a great way to monitor progress from a bird’s eye view.
  • Slack: This is a channel that allows co-workers to communicate throughout the day, facilitating virtual co-working. Use “channels” to organize group communications by topic.
  • Zoom: This is another free tool that facilitates virtual 1:1 and group meetings.
  • Email Marketing: There are many free and paid tools for email marketing, such as MailChimp and MailerLite. Keep in touch with volunteers with announcements, accomplishments, and calls for community support.
  • VolunteerLocal: (We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention!) Seamlessly schedule volunteers, send out regular email and text communications, track hours, and pull customized reports on your volunteer base. This is an easy, powerful tool for volunteer scheduling and management.

Large volunteer programs: (established budget, >150 regular volunteers)


  • Continuing to track hours and hold volunteer orientations.
  • Leadership Roles: It is much more difficult to maintain close relationships with individual volunteers when there are so many! Although this is a good problem to have, it is important that strong leadership and positive relationships with leadership are sustained. Consider delegating some leadership responsibilities to volunteers who have been serving for many years, or who are otherwise trusted.
  • Toss Out Pen and Paper: At this point, it is critical to move your volunteer management and organization online. If volunteer records and hours are only on paper, your program will be vulnerable to loss of information and inefficient systems.
  • Celebrate Volunteer Accomplishments: although this can (and should!) be done with programs of any size, it is particularly rewarding with large volunteer programs. Track volunteer impact and celebrate it together as a means to show gratitude for the work volunteers have accomplished. Ensure that volunteers feel appreciated for the work they do!


  • Cloud Storage: You might use tools like OneDrive, Google Cloud, or DropBox to store all of your important documents online. This will help you better organize your information, find it more quickly, and reduce vulnerability to loss of information.
  • Volunteer Swag: Make a volunteer feel like part of the family by giving them a volunteer t-shirt (or other apparel), phone case, or gift somehow related to your organization.
  • VolunteerLocal: Again, our platform helps with volunteer management of teams of all sizes. At its core, VolunteerLocal supports volunteer scheduling, communication, tracking, and reporting. However, there are many other tools that assist large teams, such as: volunteer certificates, leader/captain access, credit card processing, and more. 

Of course, there are some strategies and tools you might gleam from various of these lists. What is important is that you find the right tools and strategies to suit you and your volunteers.

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Creating a Successful Volunteer Budget

Let’s face it – the typically tight budget for volunteer programs can be a little straining. After all, we know that “volunteer” does not mean “free” – but when you’re juggling coordinating an event and nurturing volunteers, there’s extra meaning to “a little goes a long way.”

When it comes to budgeting, there are a range of things to consider as a volunteer coordinator: What is the best way to spend your money? What can you do without? 

And most important of all: How do you throw a great event for the attendees and the volunteers, such that everyone is inspired to return for another year?

Get your priorities straight

Identify what you can and can’t live without, the reasons why and the consequences that will occur for either decision. Be sure to know what you need so you’re able to maintain the best practices that your organization strives to achieve for its volunteer program. That means having a plan or structure in place so you know the necessities of your program are, and what you need to achieve your goals.

Recognition is key

Even with a small budget, you can find a way to show your volunteers the importance of their work and (at the same time) say “thank you.” Consider this a necessity. Whether you throw a post-event appreciation party, provide everyone with limited-run t-shirts or some other token of appreciation, these are the actions that will help to cultivate the goodwill you need to keep volunteers coming back, year-after-year.

Two birds one stone

Volunteers help out in all different areas of an event. Can you create a line-item in your budget to nurture volunteer relationships? For example: If you’re throwing a food truck festival and charging tickets for entry, is there enough wiggle room to also allow volunteers a free pass? Communicate with your colleagues and figure what opportunities there are for a win-win scenario.

Volunteers are key to your success. Finding the right budget balance between making an event spectacular for attendees, while making sure the volunteer experience is also fantastic, is critical for an organization’s continued growth.

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Establishing Volunteer Check-In Locations

Avoiding no-shows and getting volunteers where they need to go is key when it comes to volunteer check-in locations. 

First things, first. Sometimes we forget that that in order for volunteers to volunteer, they have to get there. We’ve all had no-shows at some point or another, but then again, I know I’ve been on the other side of things, too–wandering around while trying to figure out where I was supposed to be. 

Communicate clearly 

This is a real “duh” item…but for real, communicate clearly. Sometimes in our own familiarity with the layout and all of the details we forget that many of the volunteers are coming in blind. What’s simply “in the building next door” for us, should probably more clearly be communicated to volunteers as, “On the corner of Elm St. and 1st Ave, there’s an office building next to ours. Go through the door labeled ‘Main Entrance’ and take the stairwell to the right to the second floor. There you will be able to check-in at the volunteer registration table located at the top of the stairs.” If you aren’t sure if you are being specific enough, have a trusted volunteer check your instructions and see if they can follow it perfectly without prior knowledge of the location mentioned. 

Location, location, location 

When determining where volunteers should check in, consider where they are coming from–physically and mentally. Is the parking garage on the other side of the race from where you have the volunteer check-in set-up? Will the check-in spot require a 10-step set of instructions to get there without issue? Think about first time volunteers when you determine your volunteer check-in location. You may want to station a few check-in spots in obvious corners of the event if it’s spread out or one main location that’s easy to find before sending volunteers to their posts. If you do this, just make sure they can still check in and get their time recorded regardless of which check-in station they go to. If you have a lot of volunteers for a large event, it may even be necessary to list the volunteer check-in location on the general map. Or, when you send out an email with the location details, include a dropped pin for the check-in desk so volunteers can get to you by way of GPS. Even if your event is smaller, don’t underestimate the value of a clear and easy-to-get-to check-in location. 

Distribution of information  

Sometimes, despite your best efforts in communication and strategic location decisions, a volunteer will still get lost or not know where to go. Maybe they only skimmed the email or maybe they got their left and right turns confused. Either way, make sure someone else knows where volunteers need to go to help get them pointed in the right direction. If there’s a general info tent, be sure to instruct them on where to send volunteers (or provide the info tent the list of places if the volunteer check-in changes based on the time of day or type of volunteer duty). Also, include contact info for at least two people for volunteers to contact on the big day should something go wrong. That way if the first person is busy and can’t pick up their phone, they have another person to get a hold of. This is especially helpful for new volunteers who have no friends or contacts yet to reach in case something changes or they are running late or just get lost. More likely than not, you won’t be checking emails at that time so if they don’t have some phone numbers to reach out to just in case then they may walk away in frustration if their only option is to reply to your original email. 

Unfortunately, you may still have no-shows. But hopefully you can keep those to a minimum by reducing confusion and establishing volunteer check-in locations that get volunteers off to a great start. Oh, and don’t forget to always have someone continuously posted at the check-in location! Nothing worse than having the perfect directions and check-in spot, only for it to be an unmanned desk. Keep someone there well before and after the time volunteers are to report in because you can count on having a fair share of both early arrivers and those volunteers who are always running late. 

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Perks for You and Them: Making the Most of all that Volunteer Data

Managing volunteers looks different for different organizations and may shift from season to season or event to event. But at the core of the job are three phases: recruiting volunteers, managing jobs and relationships on the day of the event, and recording the work that’s been accomplished.

Today let’s take a look at that last piece—recording what’s been done. 

Setting up a volunteer hour tracking system and training your volunteers to use your system gives you a huge advantage and infuses some fun competition among your volunteers.

Creating the right system for your organization does take an investment of time from you as a volunteer coordinator. But keeping things as simple as possible for both you and your volunteers reaps great benefits! Just remember to keep it to the essentials. 

Your volunteers don’t want to spend extra time tracking trivial aspects of their role, and you don’t need superfluous data to deal with after your event is completed. Just asking for the necessities is a big win for everyone!

Perks for You

Instant Feedback

I love running events! There’s so much camaraderie and adrenaline as you navigate and the highs and lows. But there have been times I’ve been asked at the end of the day, “How did it go?” And I had been too busy to know how to answer. Anyone else have that problem? 

Taking the time to collect volunteer data after the event and through a proper system helps volunteer coordinators gain the proper perspective to reflect on the event as a whole and celebrate successes.

Demonstrate Value for Others

When the Board of Directors, donors, or sponsors asks for a report on the event, volunteer data is a great place to start! It offers concrete numbers that helps to demonstrate investment from the community and the reach of your organization.

Perks for Them

Let’s be honest, tracking hours isn’t the most fun thing to do, whether you’re getting paid or volunteering. Use your tracking statistics to showcase your high level volunteers!


When creating incentive programs for your volunteers, think about how to reward those certain individuals who go above and beyond the typical level of volunteer commitment. These might be people who have played a major role in an event for multiple years in a row or it may be someone who commits to volunteering multiple hours each week. Assessing the data may show some surprising trends!

The incentive may be as simple as posting a volunteer spotlight in a prominent place in your office. Or if you have the resources, recognize your top volunteers at a volunteer appreciation night.


Want to really play up the competition aspect? Encourage people to recruit their friends or coworkers to volunteer together in a volunteer team competition! The team with the most volunteer hours tracked wins. This works especially well when your organization is frequently hosting volunteer groups from companies who offer Volunteer Time Off. 

In similar ways to individual recognition, these teams can be recognized by something as simple as a social media post or as involved as creating a traveling trophy or a specially designed t-shirt for the winners.

Volunteer tracking is a simple tool that creates a significant impact, not just for you, but also for the people who work alongside you to bring success to your organization!

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Cancelling an Event

Even for the most weathered of event planners, unexpected complications can arise and result in a cancelled event. Bad weather, low ticket sales or a sudden illness can force an intricately planned program to come to a halt.

While a cancelled event is disappointing for the staff involved, it can be even harder to figure out the right way to break the news to your registered volunteers who were committed to making it a success. 

Volunteers that signed up for an event may include students that were banking on those hours for a class, mandated volunteers, or long-time volunteers who attend your yearly event as part of their tradition. Others maybe just wanted to hang out with their friends and do something fun for the day.

Whatever their reasoning, communicating quickly and clearly after an event is cancelled is critical with volunteers to ensure you don’t lose them for future events and let them know that their efforts and altruism have not gone unnoticed.

Be clear and transparent

It’s frustrating to learn that a plan has fallen through. Communicate the cancelled event in as many ways as you deem appropriate, including emails, social media, text messages and phone calls. Volunteers are going to be curious as to why an event is cancelled – give them a reason and be transparent to avoid further frustration. You don’t need to get into the nitty gritty details, but give your volunteers clarity for their own sakes – and so they can better empathize with you.

Show your appreciation

If this was a volunteer’s first time signing up with your organization, an event cancellation may leave a bad taste. To prevent this from happening, let your volunteer know (through a personalized email or a phone call) why their willingness to help continues to matter. Be grateful and appreciative in your tone. While a volunteer may not have had a chance to actually come out and help with an event yet, it’s the thought that counts. By being appreciative and communicating directly, your volunteer will feel valued and more likely to come back in the future.

Keep them in mind

You now have information for people who are willing to volunteer for your organization – use it! Communicate about other events where you need volunteers and be willing to make those follow-up emails or calls when the time comes. There’s nothing that sends a better message than a personal touch to let that person know you’re thinking of them.

No matter the reason, make sure that your cancelled event is an opportunity to speak directly with your volunteers and convey your appreciation for their dedication and time. You can use your cancellation as a time to reconnect and recruit for future opportunities. Silver lining, baby!

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Limiting Volunteer No-Shows

If you’ve ever coordinated (or helped coordinate) a volunteer event, you know one of the most frustrating parts of the job is handling last minute changes.

Unfortunately, to a certain extent, there’s not much you can do about it. There are always going to be certain situations and things that come up for people. That said, there are processes and safeguards you can put in place to limit last-minute changes. The best news? We’ve curated a top-5 list for you below! 

Think through contingency plans.

The first step is to take the time to think about what could go wrong or change at the last minute, and have a plan in place for when/if these things happen. You know there are going to be volunteers who can’t make it at the last second, so what do you do? If your event is outdoors, what is the plan if the weather turns? Make a list of “what if’s” and make sure to address them all at least a couple of weeks before the event to limit the stress of when/if they happen. 

Specifically recruit stand-by volunteers.

Volunteer no-shows are a given. Have a certain number of volunteers sign-up specifically as fill-ins if needed. Make sure to let them know how you’ll be communicating with them, and what to expect if they’re not needed anymore.

Make it known how volunteers can back out if necessary.

If something does come up last minute for a volunteer, be sure to have communicated to them the steps they need to take in letting you know. Send e-mail reminders to volunteers prior to the event, and specifically ask them to reply to the e-mail if they no longer can make it. It also can be useful to communicate a date that volunteers can no longer back out, unless absolutely necessary. 

Penalize no-shows.

It may seem harsh, but there should be accountability in place for people who agree to volunteer, especially if you’ve enacted some of the processes mentioned above. You might give people one strike, but if they continue to volunteer and then not show up, consider not allowing them to volunteer for a certain period of time, or restricting which jobs they can sign up for next time.

Print schedules for volunteers ahead of time.

Make sure things run smoothly by printing schedules and distributing them to volunteers ahead of time. This not only provides yet another reminder to your volunteers, but also helps reduce confusion the day of the event. It’s often comforting to volunteers to know exactly when and where they need to be and reduces the stress on them in addition to you on event day. 🙂 

We’d love to hear from you! How do you handle last minute changes and limit no-shows?

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Managing Volunteers Online and In-Person

You can’t be everywhere at once, but your volunteers come from everywhere. 

Your job revolves around one major (and sometimes vague) thing: managing volunteers. But, what if you can’t be everywhere at once and there’s only so much you can cram into the day (plus, you want to avoid burnout)? Using a variety of tools (ahem, like VolunteerLocal) can make your life easier, but you also want to continue to have that personal touch and strong communication with volunteers. How do you get the best of both worlds? 

Let’s talk through a few common volunteer management moments, so you can weigh what methods are best for you and your volunteers. 


In-person option: Hold an orientation event. This would mean you get to meet people face-to-face, shake hands, and easily answer questions right there. You know people heard the message, and it’s their first sign of commitment. Downside? You have to find a place to meet, set-up chairs and snacks beforehand, organize a time that works for everyone, and maybe even plan on a make-up date for those who can’t attend. 

Online option: Send a video and/or email message. Instead of scheduling several orientations or waiting until the next event, you can give people the rundown of what they need to know right away in a pre-recorded video and automated email. They can do it on their own time, and you can stay focused on whatever is next ahead of you. The cons may include wondering if they actually watched the video or losing out on a connection point and opportunity to answer questions. Maybe it takes too much time and effort for you to create a video that is easy to understand, interesting, and informative. 


In-person option: Sign people up when you see them. Whether you are at an event or activity fair, you can get people plugged in right away. Travel with a tablet or a clipboard, and you can strike when the time is right. You raise awareness about your organization, and you get the chance to meet someone before they show up for their first volunteer shift. But the bad part is it means you have to schlep a tent, an iPad, and your game face all over town, and then go back to the office and sort through what just happened. 

In a more informal setting, if you know someone personally or are simply networking, you can ask someone directly in a kind and personable way to volunteer. But, if you don’t have any of that stuff on you when you meet someone who wants to get involved, you have to try to mentally remember their details and contact them again later. 

Online option: People sign up on their own through your website. This allows you to sort out the info and necessary forms all in one central location. They can pick their areas of interest or available shifts and it goes straight to you. You don’t even have to be there! The hard part is losing out on some of the visibility and appeal that some of those in-person events or meetings provides. If they’ve never heard of you, what’s going to compel people to find your website?   

Planning meeting

In-person option: Hold a meeting with your team. Sometimes face-to-face meetings are simply more productive, and the conversation flows easier. You can sit around the same table and read the unsaid thoughts and emotions more clearly. The tricky part? Scheduling both the people and the location–be it due to timing, distance, or availability. These meetings can get long, and people may not be able to come between work schedules, kids to care for, or whatever it may be. 

Online option: Send email threads and have video conference meetings. A brainstorm via email can allow people time to consider different options and send them to the group to read on their own time. Video conference calls can allow those who live far away to still meet and communicate together all at once. The disadvantages of the online option is that those emails can get long (or worse, can go completely without response) or may be overlooked. The video call can have technical difficulty and cause frustration. 

In the end, ask: what’s going to be most effective for the volunteers and for you? More likely than not, you’ll find a hybrid combination of both in-person and online volunteer management methods will be what suits you best. What may work for you in some seasons or with certain volunteer teams may not work for others, so try to continue to be aware of what tends to be the most successful and be willing to pivot as needed.

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The Biggest Pain Points for Volunteer Coordinators (And How to Handle Them Pain-Free)

Volunteer coordinators are awesome, positive people committed to mission-driven organizations. But they aren’t above a few pet peeves. Here are a few things that might bring even the most upbeat among us close to becoming a #headdesk gif. (As told by real volunteer coordinators.) 

Pain Point: “Trying to find a balance between maintaining volunteer enjoyment while not straying from the mission of the organization.” 

How to Handle It: If you have a volunteer who is excited about an idea or project that isn’t a good match, there may be ways to redirect that energy without stomping out the volunteer’s enthusiasm and losing them forever. Before you give an outright “no” – try to ask a few questions to get to the heart of why the volunteer is so pumped about the idea. Can you channel the core concept that gets them fired up in a way that better aligns with your needs? Encourage them to pilot a smaller version of a concept before sucking your organization into the logistics.  Maybe the golf tournament fundraiser turns into an evening at the driving range the first year? 

Pain Point: “Internal employees and/or leadership not valuing the role of volunteers and investing appropriately.”

How to Handle It: If you’ve been making your case with metrics and data, maybe switch to testimonials and storytelling (or visa versa) to find the language that resonates with different members of your team. Put faces to names, to help connect your paid staff to your non-paid volunteer base.

Pain Point: “Volunteer turnover. You will always have one-off volunteers or people wanting to use their VTO, but they still have to go through the same protocol and training.” 

How to Handle It: Yes, it’s frustrating to bend over backwards to offer a volunteer training in the evening and then have three quarters of the volunteers in attendance ghost on you within a month. Try to determine the sweet spot where you get a return on investment from training new volunteers (maybe around 25 hours of service). Try to see if an employer will create a “dollars for doers” match grant for volunteers who reach that threshold and set an expectation that as many people as possible can. Create different kinds of jobs for those one-off or large group projects that don’t yield long-term relationships but provide important exposure for your organization.

It’s OK to feel the frustrations of your role – especially when you can look at them critically and consider how to make changes that will benefit your organization and your avid volunteers.

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