Capitalize on Volunteer Strengths

Posted on March 29, 2016

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Written by Ann Love

Apart from working on the Susan G. Komen Michigan 3-Day, I have helped organize a walk in my own community for a cause that’s close to my heart, preeclampsia. Through both of these experiences, I’ve learned a few things about the importance of working with volunteers and in knowing when to rely on help from an outside source.

Having a volunteer coordinate your event sounds like the perfect solution. You have a dedicated, passionate person at the head of your event and it won’t cost you any money! Sounds like a total win, right?

Well, I’ve discovered the answer is far from simple. In addition to the two reasons I already shared, there are other benefits to utilizing volunteers to coordinate events. Having volunteers who choose to spend their free time lending their expertise and passion to your event adds a contagious excitement and energy to your event. In addition, someone passionate enough to coordinate an event probably has a circle of friends and family who also feel strongly about your cause that they can draw on as volunteers, participants, and donors. But is enthusiasm enough to pull off a great event?

Ultimately, there are important reasons why hiring an event production company is going to set your event up for success better in the long run. Here are a few I’ve learned:

  1. Most volunteers are not trained in the business of event planning or production. Logistics of site planning and permitting are quickly going to become overwhelming to someone who has never dealt with those aspects before.
  2. Public relations and promotion are going to be completely foreign to many volunteers who are new to event coordination.
  3. Is there a technological component to your event? Consider hiring professionals for set up and support.
  4. Important guests often need special attention. A volunteer working primarily on their own may not be available for the logistics of special speakers or celebrities.

These are only a few examples of the ways an event production professional could aid a volunteer in making an event run more efficiently. Realistically, many volunteers who take on the lead role often do so because that is the only way they are going to get an event in their area. The group effort and community they envisioned is, in reality, just them learning as they go and hoping for the best. Having a professional to aid in even a few aspects of the planning will make your volunteer feel more supported and successful.

There are so many moving pieces in event planning and production. Allowing your volunteer to find the niche where they best fit by hiring a company to help them is going to make your event bigger and better immediately. Hire someone to coordinate media promotion while your volunteer focuses on site planning. Your volunteer has a fundraising background? Let them focus on that while professional event planners worry about insurance and permits. There are endless options when it comes to easing the job of your volunteer while, at the same time, increasing participation and revenue for your event.

The bottom line is that hiring a professional to do some or all of your event planning is going to allow your lead volunteer to focus on their strengths and leverage them immediately. It will also allow for continuity during volunteer turnover. You can greatly reduce the learning curve for new volunteers and offer participants a consistency that they will appreciate. A well-run event is going to build a loyal base of participants who know they can trust the quality of your event year after year. You will also see much less volunteer burn-out when they are allowed to flourish and are not left feeling alone and overworked.

Making money is the goal of every fundraising event. A well placed bit of professional help is going to be worth every penny once your organization sees the monetary benefits of happy volunteers and loyal participants.

Ann has been with Event 360 since 2013 as a local coach for the Susan G. Komen Michigan 3-Day. As a Komen 3-Day participant since 2002, she is thrilled to be working to create the event experience for current participants. When she’s not working you will most likely find her curled up with a good book, or running wild with her husband, Dan, and her two boys, Josh and Henry.

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