volunteersMost associations and non-profits rely on their large volunteer force to pull off the many annual and special events they host. However, given today’s demanding work schedules, it may be difficult to develop a volunteer pool that will stay with the event for years to come.

If your objective is to have a quality volunteer base, you have come to the right place. It turns out that if you recruit and select properly, motivating volunteers can be easy. Below are the basic questions you need to answer before the recruitment process begins.

How many volunteers do you need?

It is vital that you really know how many volunteers you need. The last thing you want is a bunch of volunteers standing around with nothing to do or conversely have situations where volunteers could be used effectively, but they were not asked.

What will they be doing?

Spend time on a detailed job description about the requirements of each position. Make sure the volunteers know if it is a sitting, standing or walking position, other physical requirements of the job and the dress code. Most important, let them how many hours they are expected to work throughout the conference and/or during a particular shift.

Who will they report to?

It is important to have only ONE staff person that each volunteer answers to in case they have questions or challenges. And please don’t overload too many volunteers onto one staff member. Spread the reporting process out to multiple paid staff members.

What’s in it for them?

Are they going to receive real-world experience in planning and executing this event? Is it an opportunity to dialogue with VIPs who they might not have access to? Will they gain entry into the conference at a discounted rate or at no cost?

Be clear about what the benefits are for them when you start the recruiting process.

How can you recruit volunteers?

The easiest way is to go to the membership and through a series of emails, phone calls and social media posts, asking them to volunteer. If you are still short on talent, use the following resources:

  • VolunteerMatch allows you to describe what you are looking for and how potential candidates can apply for positions.
  • Idealist has over 7,000 volunteer opportunities, all over the world.
  • Craigslist is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to volunteers in the location you need them.

How do you know whether an applicant is right or not?

Just like a paid employee, ask him or her to submit a resume (or letter of recommendation), highlighting his or her skills. Take the time to interview and review the volunteer requirements with the applicant.

In addition, ask him or her to fill out a form, highlighting the following:

  • Skills and experiences
  • The number of hours he or she can commit to the event
  • Why he or she is interested in this position

Once completed, determine if the individual is a right fit or not. If he or she is, be sure to share with the candidate the training requirement for the position and how long the training session will last.

How do you effectively communicate with the volunteers if your event is a long way off?

You have secured the volunteers and put them through training, yet your event is still several months away. How do you keep the momentum alive during this lull period?

One way is to keep the line of communication open by holding regular face-to-face video and/or conference calls. Set the schedule early and keep the calls short and sweet in the beginning. They can last longer and occur more frequently as time goes on.

How can you get them back for the next event?

Part of your job with volunteer recruitment is to get the same group back year after year. In order to do so, they need to feel appreciated, and it is vital to solicit their opinion about ways to improve their event experience.

First, send handwritten thank-you notes to each volunteer. In the thank-you note, let them know you will be sending them a link to an online survey. Second, when you send them the email, ask them to fill it out with total honesty about things that worked and things that did not. Once the results are compiled, share with the volunteer base what you are changing for the next event based on their recommendations.

Kalahari Is Here to Help

Whatever you need for your meeting, convention or trade show to help with volunteer coordination, the staff at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions is ready and willing to provide you with what you need. Give our group sales department a call at 855.411.4605 or email us at Groups@KalahariResorts.com for more information!