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by By Stephanie Garbaczewski | November 01, 2010

This checklist was compiled by Stephanie Garbaczewski, event marketing and communication manager at Shiftboard (shiftboard.com) and contributor to the Event Lounge blog (eventlounge.blogspot.com). 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.


Communicate
• 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.