We’ve all been there before…you’ve signed up a new client and you are knee-deep in preparing for the event. You’ve opened registration, you are working out the venue details, managing sponsors, exhibitors and speakers and much more!
Your call center team is busy on the phone helping out attendees when you get that phone call you KNEW was coming – someone wants to register and tells you they come every year to the conference for free, because they are volunteer staff.
You chat with your client, and they confirm that they get two or three dozen volunteers each year who get free conference registration in exchange for volunteering at the at the event.
“How did it go last year?” You ask your client…
It turns out, not so well. Volunteers didn’t know what their jobs were, some didn’t show up on time, some left early, and there were lots of other volunteer related challenges.
You smile. Been there, done that.
“Let me help you out,” you tell your client. “Let me organize a volunteer program that really works.”
“Tell me more,” your client says…
- You suggest to your client that all volunteers must agree to work a set number of hours at their volunteer assignments, such the registration desk or as meeting room monitors.
- You tell your client how crucial it is that everyone needs to be formally trained in their duties. Even if it only takes a few minutes for their training.
- You share with your client how important it is that each volunteer is assigned to a manager, and how they must do their work in order to earn their free registration.
- You then outline how you let volunteers pick duties that best suit their skills, but not all duties at the conference are open to volunteer assignments.
So, your client gives you the green light, and you are ready to make this year’s volunteer experience a great one. Thankfully, you have an event management platform that has the tools you need to make things happen for your volunteers.
First, you create a volunteer registration category. Volunteers wear name badges like all other attendees, and having them registered properly allows you to run reports, effectively communicate and helps you manage your event costs by accurately tracking food and beverages for both paid staff and volunteers.
You then create a dedicated online registration form for your volunteers. Not only do you capture their contact details, you can have them indicate what volunteer areas they are interested in, and they would also need to agree to the code of conduct before they could complete the registration process. You also record their shirt size, so you know how many shirts to order.
Since you’ve captured their email address and mobile phone numbers, you are able to stay in touch and communicate training schedules and volunteer check in procedures. You also plan to send them a final email with a bar code in it, so they can be scanned when they check in and you can run a list of who has shown up for training!
But you have even more tricks up your sleeve!
You decide to include head shots on each name badge, to make sure folks aren’t sharing badges with other persons. The same head shot shows up in the volunteer app, and helps make sure things stay secure at your event.
You create a special Volunteer App that provides each volunteer with their assignments, including day, time, location and who they report to. This special app is free for you to distribute, and it can also include venue details, important phone numbers, and a way for you to send out alerts and messages to your volunteers. Since the app is fully customizable, it only includes what you want your volunteers to see!
You even create a couple of custom sections to the app that outline dress codes and the proper way to answer questions from conference attendees.
And speaking of assignments, you take advantage of your platform’s built-in run sheet so you can make sure all volunteer responsibilities are tracked and scheduled appropriately! Working with your integrated agenda tool, you can make sure that every session and function has the right staff and volunteer personnel in place to take care of things.
Your volunteer schedule also makes it easy for everyone to know where they can get their meals and take their breaks. It’s always important to take good care of both staff and volunteers, since good volunteers can really help you manage event costs and help you keep things running smoothly at the event.
Finally, you are told that volunteers receive a complimentary tote bag at the end of the conference. You have an app for that! You use your collection app to automate who has picked up their tote bags, so you can make sure extras aren’t being taken inappropriately!
Finally, since you’ve taken the time to record all of these details, you are also maintaining an accurate history for the following year. Your notes and information in the database lets you know who the great volunteers are as well as the ones that should not be invited back.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure your volunteers have a fun experience, and make a true contribution to the event. Staying organized and on target with technology is a great way to get there.