by By Stephanie Garbaczewski | November 01, 2010

This checklist was compiled by Stephanie Garbaczewski, event marketing and communication manager at Shiftboard ( and contributor to the Event Lounge blog ( Stephanie was event communication manager for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games.

Identify Your Needs • Determine how many volunteers you need; identify roles.

• Do you need volunteers with any special talents/skills?  Establish a way to track qualifications.

Recruit • Over-recruit. Plan on a 30 percent dropout rate.

• Use online tools and social networking, and solicit participation from organizations with like-minded objectives.  

• Provide recruits with a detailed description of position, responsibilities and time commitment.

• Create an incentive-based referral program.

Schedule • Schedule orientation and training dates. Book venues.

• Identify and track availability. Use a software scheduling system, as opposed to a traditional spreadsheet. (An online system that updates in real time, such as Shiftboard, is preferable, so multiple volunteer coordinators can contribute changes.)

• If possible, allow volunteers the opportunity to select their schedules and positions.

Train • Communicate training dates to volunteers as soon as possible, especially if recruits are from out of town.

• Create a training program that includes the four learning styles: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic.  

• Combine face-to-face, job-specific training with e-learning sessions and scenario practice.

• Educate the team on the event's emergency procedures, radio/cell phone protocol and media etiquette.

• Host a tour and point out need-to-know locations: emergency evacuation routes, lost and found, fire extinguishers, etc.

• Empower volunteers with online resources and documents outlining all the information they need to make decisions.

Engagement Strategy • Organize opportunities for volunteers to meet each other.

• Keep volunteers excited about their upcoming roles via activities, social networks and discussion/carpool boards.

• Request regular "temperature checks" from volunteer coordinators and lead volunteers.

• Convey the best way for volunteers to communicate with the volunteer coordinator and your organization: e-mail, social networking sites, online scheduling system, etc.

• Set up a separate e-mail address for volunteers, and bring in a pre-event volunteer to help answer FAQs and update social networking sites.

• Entice volunteers to engage in dialogue on dedicated social network sites.  

• Create an emergency communication strategy.

Appreciate • E-mail an online survey and request feedback on the event immediately afterward.

• Analyze metrics and compile a detailed recap for future reference.  

• Maintain an online database; track exceptional volunteers.  

• Keep volunteers engaged and excited so they will be interested in volunteering for the next event.

• Plan an appreciation party; publicly recognize and applaud star volunteers.