From small to large-scale events, something everyone deals with is allocating limited resources. Often this means that the time frames for event contractors, including volunteer coordinators are getting shorter. This means that the volunteer coordinator is required to plan and implement the volunteer program in less time in the interest of saving costs. But is it really a saving or does it end up a far bigger cost than you thought?
What, for example, are the costs if your volunteers are not treating your event attendees welcoming and friendly? What are the costs if your volunteers don’t know how to help your visitors? What are the costs if your volunteers are stressed out or bored? How does this affect your customer’s experience? What does that mean for your organisation’s brand image?
This is what could happen if the volunteer program is not planned effectively. These costs are not as easy to quantify as a shorter contract for your volunteer coordinator. However, to put this in perspective, would you consider the design of your marketing material a waste of money, for example?
If you’d like to have a better designed brochure, you typically need to invest some time and money and the result is more professional and can leverage more exposure and credibility. And just as a badly designed brochure could have a negative impact on your organisation, poorly planned volunteer programs can have a negative impact on your event outcomes.
Investment in the volunteer program is required to achieve a different outcome. What if you would look at your volunteers as your event day brochure? Your volunteers are the ones on the ground who will be the first contact with your customer, they are the ones who talk about your event and organisation and provide services to your event patrons. Your volunteers can be your professional “brochure” if you value them as people and invest in their experience.
So what does investing in your volunteers mean? Think about your organisational objectives and the event outcomes you want to achieve. Then think about how your volunteers support this. Then design the volunteer experience in your plan.
A solid plan is essential, as it defines the quality of the implementation of your volunteer program.
Volunteer Program Planning
On a regular basis it is important to review and reflect on why your organisation is engaging volunteers. What are the big goals your organisation is out there to achieve and how does your volunteer program support that? This will clarify what to focus on during the implementation phase of the program. It will make the job of the volunteer coordinator and the rest of the event team a lot easier.
For your volunteer program to have a positive impact on your event, you need to allocate time for yourself or your team to plan. A solid planning phase will define the quality of the implementation of your volunteer program.
Your planning phase should include a review of your registration system as well as the processes to attract, engage and train and supervise volunteers. This will clarify your approach to recruitment, engagement, training and onsite management.
When you have a clear plan and a clear goal in mind, the implementation will be easy. Instead of recruiting a certain number of volunteers, you now create a volunteer experience in order to achieve your anticipated outcomes.
Quality rather than quantity
A successful volunteer program is about quality rather than quantity. Quality lets you leverage your efforts to create amazing events for your audiences.
Just like when producing a professional brochure, it is worthwhile investing time and money in your volunteer program. The outcome will be a team of people who will become the extension of your event or organisational brand.
What’s your experience? How do you measure your volunteer program impact?
If you would like help with your volunteer program planning book in for a 15-minute FREE consultation with me.