Charity event chairs (great tongue twister!) love to have as much help as they can get when planning and executing events. Whether planning for a large gala this fall or a golf scramble this summer, utilizing volunteers will help your event thrive and benefit your nonprofit organization in plenty of other ways too.
Volunteers already have a passion for your mission, and they are willing to work for you – for free! Take them up on their willingness and assign them a task or two. There are several roles available for volunteers, depending on their time and availability.
Following are six of the most important duties your volunteers can perform before, during, and after your next nonprofit fundraising event:
1. Auction Item Procurement
A successful silent or live auction relies on unique and exciting items secured on behalf of your cause. This is an excellent activity for your volunteer corps. At least three months in advance of your event, arm them with a wish list and the proper forms (click here for help on the forms you will need for your auction). Make it interesting for them by adding a reward challenge for the most donated items or the most expensive item. Everyone likes an incentive!
For more on auction item procurement, check out these articles:
- Related: 3 Quick Tips for Procuring Quality Auction Items
- Related: 4 Unique Ideas for Brainstorming Exceptional Auction Items
2. Event Check-In
Have your most seasoned and trained volunteers work the check-in table. From greeting your guests to handling money, this is a first impression opportunity that requires top notch volunteers. Spend some extra time planning for the check-in and registration process. To learn more about event day volunteer roles, check out this article:
3. Silent Auction
There are typically many items in a silent auction, and volunteers should be present to keep a watchful eye on the tables. Ask your team to ensure the tables stay neat and organized as well as answer questions that guests might have about items. Volunteers will also be of great help in closing out the auction and distributing the items to winning bidders.
4. Live Auction
Choose a couple of your seasoned volunteers to assist with this fast-paced event. Helping the auctioneer to stay informed during the live auction will keep things running smoothly.For example, if you are incorporating a Winspire travel package, the auctioneer needs to know the reserve bid amount so that he can work that into the audience participation. He may have questions about the destination too.
Volunteers should be positioned throughout the audience to help the auctioneer see and hear the bids, which is called spotting. They also personally go to the winning bidders to get their money, signature, etc. There is great potential here, so stage your best volunteers to help with this important aspect of your event. They help capture all the money in the room!
5. Event Clean Up
Don’t overlook this aspect of planning your event. There is often so much effort into executing the event that closing it down seems less important. Find and assign volunteers who's only job it is to show up at the end and pitch in on the clean up. This is especially attractive to high schools and sports teams needing service hours.
6. Event Follow Up
Timely thank you notes are essential to keeping your donors and guests engaged with your nonprofit organization. Solicit volunteer help in writing thank you notes or addressing envelopes. Set this up in advance so that everyone knows to come to your office on a specific day during the week following your event. Knock out this vital task quickly and efficiently with their help.
Volunteers are critical at smaller events too. Many people enjoy serving food or working in the kitchen to help you pull off a dinner or cocktail reception. Your volunteers may help with the whole process – from planning, executing, clean up, and thank you notes. And you may be surprised that each year the same volunteers look forward to coming back to work at that same event. They often enjoy the camaraderie as much as helping your organization.
Don't forget the importance of recognition! These people are donating their time and energy to help you succeed, so make sure you take steps to recognize them for their contribution. Designating the group as the "Event Committee" might also be a good idea.
Treat your volunteers like the rock stars they are:
- Have a food table in a private room for them to sit and relax during a break.
- Offer a t-shirt, button, hat or other clothing to wear to help set them apart during the event.
- Keep them informed during the planning phase as well as during the event itself.
- If there are any changes to your event’s structure, let them know.
- Assign an employee to oversee the volunteer corps. This smart move gives volunteers the security to know who to go to for anything and at any point.
Your volunteers are ambassadors for your nonprofit organization. It is just as important that they have a quality experience with the event as it is for the attending guests. You want them to positively share that with everyone they know. They might even become future donors themselves! Send them a handwritten, personal thank you note and let them know how much they mean to you.