Engage: Festival Volunteers

With schools on break, family arriving from out of town and taking off work for some fun in the sun, people are always looking to put some of their summer time to use volunteering at one of the many festivals around town. From music festivals, foodie festivals and outdoor fundraisers, there are endless volunteer opportunities for people in the summer. When done well, recruiting and engaging event and festival volunteers can create life-long, year-round volunteers.   

Recruiting
Before you get to work recruiting volunteers, make sure you have a detailed position description; this way potential volunteers know if their interests and skills match your needs. Things to include in a position description include: qualifications, duties, time commitment, and benefits.

Propellus members can post volunteer opportunities to our volunteer opportunities database here.

Don’t Be Afraid of Groups
Festivals have the good fortune of running during the few warm months of the year. Conveniently, this is also when university and college students are out of class. Targeting volunteer groups like university students looking for resume builders is a great way to fill volunteer spots. And don’t forget about companies with employee volunteer programs that are often looking for one-off events to lend their services. If your event is family friendly, families are often looking for ways to volunteer together as well.

Be Clear…
Showing up to volunteer at an event or festival can be a little bit overwhelming. Giving a volunteer clear and concise directions about where the event is, what the parking situation is like, what exact time to be there, and where to go to sign in as a volunteer can go a long way to alleviating the stress of being a volunteer for something as big as a festival or event.

Our Volunteer Engagement workshop is a great tool to help enhance your volunteer engagement skills.

Be Like a Boy Scout… 
…and always be prepared. Have you ever walked into a temp job and the office is obviously not prepared to utilize your skills? That often happens to volunteers. Don’t let it happen to your volunteers. If you are prepared with great position descriptions, volunteers (and staff) can easily be put to work in a way in which they are clear about what their role is, and how to fulfill it.

Our Elements of People Engagement workshop is a great tool to enhance your HR skills for dealing with staff and volunteers alike. Look for new People Engagement workshops in the spring and summer.

Everyone Loves…
…Food. No one likes to be hungry, especially at festivals where food is plentiful and everywhere. Offering your volunteers a meal or some snacks will go a long way to promoting goodwill among your busy festival volunteers. If time permits, try to create the space for an actual meal that brings staff and volunteers together, which will allow them to form bonds with each other while talking about the events of the day. Building a community among volunteers is a great way to keep people coming back to the same event year after year to volunteer together.

Recognize Serendipity
Serendipity is the aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. Remember that sometimes the best things happen by accident. Make the time to chat with your volunteers, find out their skills and interests. A conversation with volunteers can lead to understanding their skills and discovering opportunities for future involvement. If your volunteer has had a good experience with your organization, you may be able to recruit them as skilled volunteers for different projects. Want to anticipate those serendipitous moments before they happen? Try the Project Management for Non-Profits workshop.

Engaging your festival volunteers can also be as simple as a heartfelt “thank you” or a quick reference for those younger volunteers looking to beef up their resume.


Have a unique volunteer management challenge or want to fine-tune your existing processes in advance of an upcoming festival and the accompanying influx of volunteers? Our facilitated learning days can help! Contact: Jeff D’Silva 403-231-1431 for more information.

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