Kudos to those who volunteer. They are the people who work diligently without pay to get the show on the road. Many corporate events are put together with only volunteer help, especially nonprofit organizations.

Volunteers don’t appear magically, read your mind about what you want, instantly know protocol, do the work without a thank you and keep coming back for more. For volunteers to be effective, someone has to recruit, assign, train, organize and recognize them- usually a paid staff person. They take a lot of time and attention, and therefore are not exactly free.

Where to look for recruits? Look within your company or association, event supporters (related interest groups or clients), convention and visitor bureaus, local chambers of commerce, local community organizations or local schools, colleges and universities.

Consider the following when working with volunteers:

Who is responsible for recruiting?

  1. How many volunteers will be required?
  2. Identify the jobs to be assigned (runners, greeters, staff office, etc.).
  3. Identify all jobs not to be assigned to volunteers.
  4. Check your liability insurance for actions or omissions for volunteers.
  5. Consider the time and costs involved in recruiting and using volunteers.
  6. Recognize that all legal liability using volunteers is yours.
  7. Avoid assigning duties that could result in injury.

Determine volunteer skills and abilities:

  1. Provide a thorough, comprehensive briefing of your event.
  2. Ask if they have prior volunteer experience.
  3. Take into account their dress and manner of speech.
  4. Explain the available jobs; ask what skills they have, match skills with work.
  5. Ask up front what job they prefer not to be assigned.
  6. Get the volunteers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, emergency contact.

When briefing volunteers:

  1. Introduce them to their job supervisor.
  2. Create detailed job descriptions for each activity and give it to them.
  3. Provide a phone number for them to call if they can’t come in.
  4. Inform them of the event’s dress code.