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.