Thursday, March 13, 2014

Connecting Volunteers and Success at Your Event

In the long list of “to do” items for your fundraising event, it can get overlooked that volunteers are an integral part of your success. Rarely are there enough staff members to do every job associated with your event and it becomes necessary to activate volunteers to fill some of those roles. Volunteers act as ambassadors for your organization onsite and, depending on their task, often have a chance to interact with more of your guests than you.

With that in mind, be strategic in their recruitment. Do you have a volunteer job that requires them to talk directly to guests? Make sure they are comfortable with that in advance. If they aren’t, consider them for more behind-the-scenes work like set up/clean up or auction running. If they are interested in a more public role but don’t know a lot about the organization, give them some information ahead of time so they can help spread the word about your great work. 

At this year’s Going Places Gala for Ride Connection, their Heads & Tails volunteers knocked it out of the park. Their task was to sell as many strands of beads as possible during the silent auction for a game that would kick off the live auction. They were raising money and bringing guests into the energy of the event all at the same time.

Ride Connection couldn’t have done a better job suiting volunteers to a task. They recruited key people to these positions that were not only personable and engaging, but knew the crowd well and were incredibly familiar with the organization. Guests knew them and wanted to talk to them already. As added incentive, the volunteers actually made a friendly wager among themselves ahead of time to see who could sell the most, and checked in with each other the whole time as incentive to keep at it. It created a fun atmosphere of competition that guests wanted to be a part of all in the name of fundraising for an organization they were passionate about.

And they sold a lot of beads! Not only were they effective, but they activated the crowd to become engaged in the activity of fundraising and anticipate the fun they were going to have later in the evening.

Strategic volunteer recruitment can add a lot to your nonprofit fundraising event. Having the correct people in specific volunteer positions can take your event to the next level. As you think about recruiting volunteers, be strategic about who you place where.  Know your crowd and place people in volunteer positions that best fit their personalities and strengths. 

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