People are your greatest asset!
A crucial element of planning and delivering your arts or cultural event will be the involvement of volunteers who give their time, energy or expertise for free. There are different ways of recruiting volunteers, for example through a targeted call out in newsletters or local press, word of mouth or through a Volunteer Centre (if you are a public, voluntary or community sector organisation or group). To choose the right method for attracting and recruiting volunteers that are specific to your event needs, you may wish to consider the following approaches:
This type of recruitment is useful if you require a large number of volunteers for a relatively short time and the requirements of the task are minimal. Methods for getting the attention of potential volunteers include distributing brochures, posters, speaking to groups, placing notices in local media and word of mouth. You may also consider asking your local Volunteer Centre to help you write a short volunteering opportunity which will appear on their database. They can upload this to the www.do-it.org website, circulate it to their registered volunteers interested in volunteering at events, or include on their next newsletter or on their facebook page (subject to local availabilty).
For targeted recruitment of people who have special skills or experience, this requires a more planned approach to a smaller number of potential volunteers. To help identify the volunteers you need, ask the following questions:
• What exactly do you need the volunteer to do?
• Who could provide this?
• How can you best communicate the volunteering opportunity to them?
• What are the benefits of volunteering to help motivate them?
• How long will you need them for?
When you have answered these questions the best idea is to simply take your volunteering opportunity directly to them. This might include people you already know such as family members, friends, colleagues, referrals or people already involved in similar activities that you aware of. Your local Volunteer Centre will also have registered volunteers with identified skills and experience so contact them to find out if there are any local volunteers on their database who have the skills you are looking for.
Recruiting Volunteers Online
The use of online volunteering websites where volunteers are matched to events or organisations are growing and is a good method of recruitment. Volunteering organisations also promote good practice in volunteer management and encourage interest in volunteering opportunities. They include:
• www.cambridgehub.org Connecting students with volunteering opportunities.
• www.do-it.org.uk This is populated by Volunteer Centres nationally. By registering your volunteering opportunity with your local Volunteer Centre you will have the option for it to appear on this website and for interested volunteers to be directed to you by the Volunteer Centre.
• www.volunteeringcambsandpboro.org.uk The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Volunteer Centres can assist you with any information, help or support you need when involving volunteers. They have published an event guide for volunteers and their website will provide information on where your nearest Volunteer Centre is.
Communicating your Volunteering Opportunity
Regardless of which approach you take, you need to be careful how you communicate your message and ensure that the event is worthy of a volunteers time and commitment. Make your message short and direct, making clear what is expected of the volunteer, how their support will benefit the event, wider community and also themselves, e.g. through acquiring valuable skills, experience or the opportunity to network and make contacts.
How to Get Started
Now that you’ve got people interested in volunteering at your event to help organise or deliver it, what’s next?
Assigning a Volunteer Co-ordinator
It is good practice to have a named volunteer coordinator for each event who is the referral point for dealing with volunteers and their welfare. The volunteer coordinator should:
• Contact people promptly, ideally within a few days to maintain interest in the project and help ensure their commitment.
• Invite everyone to a meeting, preferably as a group so they can meet each other or individually, where they can provide more detail on the event, answer any initial questions and to thank them for getting involved.
• Agree roles and responsibilities, for example venue coordination, press officer, planning, registration, helping with costumes or props and stewards etc. This is a great opportunity to explain exactly what is involved, what the likely time commitment will be, who to report to and who they will be working with.
• Arrange for any necessary training on how you would like them to carry out their role – this could be as simple as shadowing a member of the team or buddying them up with an existing volunteer.
• Make clear that all volunteers will be supported throughout their involvement with the project.
• Contact all volunteers and keep them up-to-date with any changes in tasks, schedule, programme etc.
• Make sure that volunteers have contact details of organisers or other team members who are important to their role.
• At the end of the project to thank all volunteers and to provide an opportunity to give feedback on their experience.
• If the co-ordinator has recruited volunteers via a volunteer centre, to provide details of where the volunteer has been placed so they can update their file.
For comprehensive support, contact Volunteering Cambridgeshire & Peterborough (VC&P). All the partnership volunteer centres are accredited by Volunteering England and they provide information, support and guidance to both volunteer-involving organisations and volunteers. Visit their website www.volunteeringcambsandpboro.org.uk for more information.
Read or download our Events in Easy Steps Volunteers Guide.