As an active volunteer myself, I know that it’s easy for volunteers to feel disconnected while working at association events. It’s also important to keep volunteers engaged once the conference or event is over to gain their support for future events.
Volunteers are critical to furthering your organization’s mission. The good news is that the hard part is over: you’ve recruited the volunteers (and they actually showed up!). The solutions to keeping them actively engaged during and after your event are simple and attainable on any budget.
It’s important to communicate to your volunteers what you expect from them early on in the process. Prior to recruiting volunteers, set clear, defined goals for what each of their roles will be then communicate that to them once they’ve agreed to help out at your event. If they know what to expect and where to go ahead of time, the time they would have spent figuring that out the day of your event can go towards something productive.
One of the easiest ways to keep your volunteers engaged once the event is over is to communicate with them often. Does your association have a newsletter or blog? Recognize their service, and be sure to add your volunteers to any relevant communications you distribute to keep your organization top of mind when volunteers are looking to lend a helping hand again.
Who doesn’t like free stuff? For many events, free t-shirts and pizza are guaranteed, so try thinking outside the box. For professionals who volunteer, consider offering continuing education credit in exchange for their time. For college students, try offering a free ticket to a following event after they complete their shift. Good incentives will leave a lasting impression on your volunteers, making them likely volunteer again and speak highly of your organization to their peers.
Show your volunteers you appreciate their time and commitment to your association by acknowledging their hard work. This could be as simple as mailing a handwritten thank you card or giving them a shout out on your company’s social media channels. For larger events that require a committee of volunteers, host a volunteer reception as a way to give attendees and key stakeholders an opportunity to say thank you in person. To be acknowledged for their work and know that it matters is invaluable to passionate volunteers.
Your volunteers should of course be focused at your events, but engagement extends outside of 4 hours shifts. Implementing these tips will keep your volunteers motivated, happy and involved with your organization for many events to come.