Running an event can be a serious pain. You have to print and organize ticket materials, run the front-door, communicate with vendors, and pull talent and speakers into your event. So, when it comes to putting up chairs, hanging signs, decorations, and handling tickets, you’re probably going to need a little help. But, let’s be honest — you don’t have the budget to hire that help.
So, what do you do if you have a big event to run on a small budget? You step into the wonderful world of volunteer sign up sites.
Why Are Volunteers Important?
Want to know what event promoters spend the majority of their budget on?
- 36% say the venue
- 34% say catering
- 10% say marketing
- 10% say speakers
Do you notice anything? Event staff doesn’t even make the list. There’s a reason for that — the event economy is glued to volunteer help.
Over a third of events are planned and executed on a budget that’s under $100,000. We’ve seen medium-sized weddings that cost more than that! So, your lean budget probably doesn’t leave much room to pay non-essential staff. Luckily, finding volunteers in the event industry isn’t difficult… you just need to work out those marketing muscles.
So, before you even start thinking about event volunteer management software, volunteer management styles, or how you’re going to assign roles and facilitate volunteer communication, here are some places where you can actually find some quality volunteers for your event.
1. Volunteer Listing Sites
If you’re over there prepping your ad campaigns, making signs, and preparing to reach out to your network, hold on a second. You may not need to bust out the markers quite yet. There are websites where you can go and find eagre and willing volunteers.
There are websites like VolunteerMatch and Idealist. But, we’re not going to talk about those. Why? Because they are jam-packed with event managers looking for volunteers. You can definitely go look through them. But, we’re sticking with an outside-of-the-box strategy for this post.
Here are our 3 favorite places to recruit event volunteers and possibly interns.
- Craigslist: We know what you’re thinking. The answer is yes. The website that you used to get rid of your old couch that only had one cushion is actually an amazing place to find volunteers. Not only is there a volunteer section on Craigslist, but they don’t have any “nonprofits only!“ rules.
- Local college volunteer sign up websites: In our opinion, this is BY FAR the best place to find volunteers. Tons of college students are trying to become, well, people with jobs. And volunteering for your event will help them get the experience and skills they need to succeed. 92% of HR execs think that volunteering experience looks good on a resume. The easiest way to find these is to look at local colleges in your areas (big and small) and scout out any volunteering sections of their websites. Sometimes these are internal, so calling the college never hurts.
- Facebook: Event management Facebook groups can be a great place to find volunteers. A variety of college students and new event planners will join these groups looking for experience, college credit or internship opportunities. You can be the person to give it to them. Hint: Facebook is also a great place to sell your event tickets!
2. Running Volunteer Ads
Facebook and LinkedIn are the two go-to digital sources to display event volunteering ads. Make sure to only target people that live in the city your event is taking place in. And try to use segmenting to find people who are interested in event management groups, events, or local activities.
But, Facebook and LinkedIn are just your digital sources. Your best volunteer ad spots aren’t digital — they’re local. Think about local newspapers, radio stations, and (as strange as this sounds) bulletin boards. Not only will you save money (Facebook ads aren’t exactly cheap), but you’ll definitely only be recruiting local volunteers.
3. Employee/Student Volunteer Programs
Businesses and schools have volunteer programs. There are usually two places for volunteers. One for nonprofits and one for “unpaid interns (a.k.a volunteers)”. For most of you reading this, you’ll want to jump on the nonprofit board. But if you’re a curious local event planner that’s for-profit, you can also find some good interns using college boards.
Again, we heavily recommend schools. It’s an amazing source of volunteers — especially if that school offers marketing courses. Your event can help students gain experience. And they’re one of the hardest working and most interested groups of volunteers out there.
4. Community Websites
Any community-based website is a great place to reach out to locals to procure some volunteers. Sure, Craigslist, Facebook, and Instagram could technically be considered community websites, we’re talking about sites made explicitly for locals. These can be forums (e.g., WiredNewYork.com) or even local subreddits(e.g., reddit.com/r/oklahoma).
So, how do you find these websites? Well... Google. There are too many to really list out here. And each city has its own unique little spaces, so that’s on you. Once you find them, you can either run ads in those places or make posts asking for volunteers. It’s up to you and the possibilities are endless!
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