The 10 steps to follow for hiring and guiding a team of volunteers

The 10 steps to follow for hiring and guiding a team of volunteers

Is your event fast approach­ing? What­ev­er its for­mat, it’s like­ly that you’ll need help and that you won’t be able to offer pay­ment for all of it. That’s where vol­un­teers come in! With effec­tive plan­ning, good inter­per­son­al skills and excel­lent com­mu­ni­ca­tion, you can build a team of vol­un­teers who will help you make your event a suc­cess.

As an event organ­is­er, it’s your role to recruit, train and man­age a team of vol­un­teers with the qual­i­ties you need. Below, you will find the ten key steps for build­ing and man­ag­ing an effec­tive team of vol­un­teers for your event.


  1. Define your spe­cif­ic needs
  2. Assign roles and respon­si­bil­i­ties
  3. Cre­ate incen­tives for vol­un­teer­ing
  4. Search for poten­tial vol­un­teers
  5. Inter­view the select­ed can­di­dates
  6. Com­mu­ni­cate clear­ly and reg­u­lar­ly
  7. Train your vol­un­teers well
  8. Ensure you are informed about the law
  9. Be atten­tive on the day
  10. Show your vol­un­teers you are grate­ful

1. Define your specific needs

Why do you need vol­un­teers — before, dur­ing and after your event? The first step for build­ing a team of vol­un­teers involves deter­min­ing what you need them to do for you. Cre­ate a list includ­ing the tasks to be car­ried out dur­ing your event as well as the skills need­ed to com­plete them.

Bear in mind the types of peo­ple that you need to recruit. If you need to sell goods, then you should find out­go­ing peo­ple. It’s like­ly that you’ll also need vol­un­teers with spe­cif­ic phys­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties. For exam­ple, when sta­tioned at an event it’s com­mon to be lift­ing heavy objects or stand­ing for long peri­ods of time.

2. Assign roles and responsibilities

Once you’ve defined your needs, it’s time to turn them into roles and respon­si­bil­i­ties. Exam­ine your list of needs and look for items that can be grouped togeth­er. Cre­ate flex­i­ble cat­e­gories with sub-teams based on the duties of each post, e.g. tick­et­ing, entrance man­age­ment, logis­tics, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, cloak­room, etc.

You can then take this infor­ma­tion and write up a job descrip­tion for each role. Be sure to include the respon­si­bil­i­ties, skills or knowl­edge required to car­ry out the work, and the time by which it needs to be com­plet­ed.

The aim is to clear­ly define expec­ta­tions for your vol­un­teers to allow them to focus on the roles that suit them best. The more detailed the job descrip­tions are, the bet­ter. It’s prefer­able to ‘scare off’ poten­tial vol­un­teers who wouldn’t be ful­ly moti­vat­ed by their roles than to hire peo­ple who could do more harm than good at your event.

3. Create incentives for volunteering

Few peo­ple vol­un­teer for events with­out expect­ing any­thing in return. It’s there­fore up to you to give them a rea­son to vol­un­teer by offer­ing them some­thing they can’t resist. For a fes­ti­val, this could take the form of free tick­ets. For a pro­fes­sion­al event, it could be as sim­ple as the oppor­tu­ni­ty to add a line to their CV or obtain a ref­er­ence from you after the event.

Don’t just offer the incen­tives that suit you. Instead, you should iden­ti­fy what would encour­age poten­tial vol­un­teers to join you on your adven­ture. What advan­tages or expe­ri­ences can you offer them that they would see as hav­ing val­ue that is equal to, or more than, the time spent work­ing at your event?

4. Search for potential volunteers

Put out an advert on sev­er­al of your media such as your web­site or on social net­works, high­light­ing the goal of your approach. Add the main fields required for future can­di­dates and insist on the fact that the ser­vice is free, and there­fore not paid, to ensure you are in agree­ment with the vol­un­teer from the out­set.

The local com­mu­ni­ty is anoth­er per­fect place for find­ing vol­un­teers. You can also ask for advice from the venue that is host­ing your event. Get in con­tact with the local cham­ber of com­merce and the town or city’s leisure depart­ment, and ask if there are any ways to pub­licly announce that you are look­ing for vol­un­teers for your event. You can also con­tact local news­pa­pers and radio sta­tions to seek pub­lic­i­ty or place an advert.

5. Interview the selected candidates

When you start receiv­ing appli­ca­tions from poten­tial vol­un­teers, it’s impor­tant to ensure that they apply for the roles that best suit their skills and inter­ests. Con­sid­er cre­at­ing a pre-screen­ing ques­tion­naire ded­i­cat­ed to recruit­ing vol­un­teers on your web page.

After select­ing the best pro­files, plan a meet­ing in per­son with the aim of explain­ing your event’s oper­a­tion and details — includ­ing the time, loca­tion, equip­ment, dress require­ments, etc. — as well as tasks that will be request­ed in the future.

If you don’t have the time to per­son­al­ly inter­view each poten­tial vol­un­teer — which is often the case for large events — as a min­i­mum use the pre-screen­ing sur­vey and, if pos­si­ble, have a phone or video con­ver­sa­tion with them. Don’t for­get to ask them what role they would like to have. Just because some­one is a mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist, doesn’t mean they’ll want to have this role dur­ing your event. They might want to do some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent! Give them a choice if you can, and they will prob­a­bly be more sat­is­fied with their expe­ri­ence as a vol­un­teer. This counts towards build­ing loy­al­ty among your team.

6. Communicate clearly and regularly

Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion is essen­tial for build­ing an effec­tive team of vol­un­teers. You should com­mu­ni­cate fre­quent­ly with all of your vol­un­teers to ensure they are aware of any­thing that could affect them dur­ing your event. Fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion keeps them involved and helps estab­lish a rela­tion­ship, which will undoubt­ed­ly reduce set­backs.

Hold reg­u­lar team meet­ings by phone or online with the help of tools such as and What­sApp. For large teams, you can use tools like Slack for keep­ing every­one informed of progress, and Trel­lo and Asana for man­ag­ing tasks and projects.

7. Train your volunteers well

Train­ing is essen­tial for each vol­un­teer. They must be aware of the tasks assigned to them, dead­lines, who to ask for help, their itin­er­ary for the day of the event, and emer­gency plans. Ensure that they have access to all the tools they need to car­ry out their work and that they know how to use them.

More­over, your vol­un­teers must under­stand what is expect­ed of them in terms of con­duct, dress code, and so on. Train them on how to report and address prob­lems depend­ing on who they are deal­ing with (e.g. tick­et pur­chasers, sell­ers, VIP guests, artists, etc.).

If they don’t turn up, arrive late or don’t do their work well, they need to know that this will inevitably have con­se­quences. Remem­ber to also inform them of prac­ti­cal details such as where to park on the day of the event, what food will be avail­able to them, break times, etc.

8. Ensure you are informed about the law

Although vol­un­teers aren’t your employ­ees, there are laws that require you to respect a cer­tain frame­work. All rights enjoyed by vol­un­teers can be found on So, be rig­or­ous and inform your­self of the rules before writ­ing up job descrip­tions and recruit­ing indi­vid­u­als.

You will prob­a­bly also have to find insur­ance for vol­un­teers. You will need to give them breaks after a cer­tain num­ber of hours of work, and you won’t be allowed to replace paid work­ers with vol­un­teers.

9. Be attentive on the day

It’s the big day. Ensure that each of your vol­un­teers is at their work­sta­tion. If can­di­dates drop out at the last minute, con­sid­er hir­ing more vol­un­teers next time to avoid unpleas­ant sur­pris­es.

Lis­ten to your vol­un­teers, too. Offer them rewards such as the chance to enjoy the event at the end of their shift or access to food and bev­er­ages.

These options will ensure your vol­un­teers will want to work at future events with you.

10. Show your volunteers you are grateful

Your vol­un­teers expect a gen­uine thank you, in per­son, by email or by phone. Tell them how much they’ve helped you and what you’ve been able to achieve thanks to them. Per­son­alise each thank you, as your vol­un­teers are unique and want to feel that their time has helped in a wider sense.

There are no rev­o­lu­tion­ary tools for hir­ing vol­un­teers that meet your event’s stan­dards. For every­thing else, make your life eas­i­er by first­ly opt­ing for an all-in-one tick­et­ing solu­tion, as well as tak­ing advan­tage of seam­less access con­trol, and even a cash­less pay­ment sys­tem. Dis­cov­er all of our solu­tions’ fea­tures by click­ing on the but­ton below:

Plan­ning an event

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