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 programs where you can actually find and search for some quality volunteers for your event.
Tip: Purplepass offers a discount for all our nonprofits to support the amazing work you do for our communities. To learn more and get access to a free marketing guide, click below.
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 marketing team quite yet. There are websites where you can go and find eager and willing volunteers.
Now, some of the first results that pull up on Google for “event volunteers“ will be websites like VolunteerMatch and Idealist. Chances are, you can’t actually use those. They only allow nonprofits. So, you’ll have to think outside-of-the-box.
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, event planners. And volunteering for your event will help them get the experience and skills they need to succeed. 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 usually have volunteer connect programs and opportunities. This can get a little tricky. You don’t want to include your event on nonprofit only volunteering boards, but you can definitely weasel your way into nondescript volunteer boards at local colleges and businesses as long as they don’t specifically say they’re for nonprofits. Just be forward with your intentions.
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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