If you’re reading this, then you’ve successfully recruited some volunteers for your event!
Now it’s time to learn how to train and manage your event volunteers.
This guide will cover how to…
- Onboard and train your volunteers
- Communicate clearly and efficiently
- Create subdivisions and appoint team leaders
- Stay on the right side of the law
- Create backup plans for emergencies
Ready to take on the role of event volunteer manager?
1. Onboard your event volunteers
Whether you’ve managed to recruit experienced volunteers or complete novices, you should onboard them all in a proper manner.
Part of the onboarding process is to…
- Thank them for volunteering
- Provide some background on you (and your organisation)
- Outline the specific goals of the event
- Explain how their role relates to the event goals
- Describe the communication procedures
- Explain your expectations
A good onboarding process will make volunteers excited to work on your event. Make a good impression on them, and they’ll try to impress you in return.
Tip: Read more about the best volunteer onboarding practices.
2. Create an event orientation programme
Once you’ve welcomed the volunteers, you should create an event orientation programme that sets them up for the event ahead.
Things to include in your event orientation programme:
- Code of conduct
- What to expect on the day of the event
- What outfits to wear
- Where to meet with the team
- What time to report to their manager
- How to track work hours
- Who to contact if there’s a problem
- How to get reimbursement for expenses
You can carry out this programme in person or have the volunteers go through it online if you’re dealing with a large number of them.
Tip: Read more about creating a great volunteer orientation programme.
3. How to train your event volunteers
Training is a big deal when it comes to managing your event volunteers. Their performance is very dependent on the quality of training you’ve provided them with.
Hold a meeting (in-person or online) where you run through all the essential details. Encourage your volunteers to ask as many questions as they have to clear up any confusion.
Another important point is to make sure your volunteers get to know each other. It will make them work together more efficiently on the day of the event
A comprehensive volunteer training session will include:
- The schedule for the event
- Assigned tasks (and their deadlines)
- How to use any tools you provide them with
- Contingency plans in case anything goes wrong
- How to communicate with attendees, vendors, performers, and sponsors
- How to access the venue (including parking)
- Where to get food for lunch
- When to take breaks (and how often)
Tip: Learn how to properly train event volunteers.
4. How to deploy your event volunteers
During the screening, interview, onboarding, or training stages, you should have sussed out which volunteers will do well performing specific tasks.
Some of your volunteers might be introverted and meticulous. Others might be very outgoing but disorganised. Focus on the strengths of each volunteer, so they perform their assigned jobs well.
If you’re in doubt as to where you should deploy certain volunteers, give them a small task to start with. Then you can review how well they did and whether or not they should continue.
5. Appoint event volunteer manager(s)
You should appoint a team leader or manager, whether you’re working with a small team of ten volunteers or hundreds of them.
You will likely have a lot on your plate on the day of the event, so it’s a good idea to provide the volunteers with another point of contact in case you’re too busy to help them.
If you’ve divided your event volunteers into groups (such as marketing, service, cleaning, and so on), you can appoint a team leader from each department.
Tip: You should create a separate job description for the team leader. Look at this example from a music festival to get an idea of what that should look like.
6. Create a reporting system
If you’re organising a sizeable event—such as a conference or a festival—you should consider creating a reporting system to help you manage your volunteers.
A solid reporting system can help you organise your volunteer schedule, attendance, to-do lists, and any other metrics that you’ll use to evaluate your volunteers after the event.
Tip: These free volunteer management tools for events can help you create a reporting system.
7. Communicate efficiently
Communication is key in all teams. You should make a point out of communicating with your event volunteers in a clear and frequent manner.
It will ensure that your volunteers are up to date with the latest event developments. When you stay in touch with your team, you’ll also quickly notice if someone becomes unresponsive.
Use some of these free tools to communicate effectively with your volunteer team:
- Facebook Messenger (for smaller teams)
- Facebook Groups (for larger teams)
- WhatsApp group chats
- Email lists
- Skype group chats
If you’re managing a large team with subdivisions, you should encourage them to create their own private groups. That way, the main channel isn’t flooded with comments.
8. Research legal matters
There are some legal matters you need to read up on when you’re managing a team of event volunteers.
Even though volunteers are unpaid, there are still laws regarding their rights, safety, training, insurance, expenses, and supervision.
You will need to ensure that you know how many hours they can work, how many breaks they can get, and so on.
Tip: National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) details everything you need to know.
9. Have backup plans
You can’t predict everything, but it’s useful to have some backup plans for potential issues that you’re already aware of.
For example, you might experience that a volunteer registers but doesn’t show up. There’s a risk of drop-outs at any point of the process.
You should, therefore, take precautions such as providing clear instructions for when and where to show up, as well as recruit extra volunteers in case of no-shows.
10. Thank your event volunteers
Once the event is over and done with, you should make sure to thank your volunteers for helping you out. Communicate the difference they’ve made to the success of the event.
It’s also an opportunity for you to ask your volunteer team for feedback on their experience working on the event.
An excellent way to do that is to send a post-event survey to your volunteers. It’ll be particularly practical if you’re dealing with a large team.
Tip: You can use a ready-made volunteer survey (or customise your own) with SurveyMonkey.
Follow up with volunteers after the event
You shouldn’t lose connection with your event volunteers, even after thanking them and receiving their feedback.
You might need them for future events. Now is a good time to continue the relationship you have already started with the first event.
Who knows, you might eventually recruit them as paid staff for your organisation.