5 Steps to Volunteer Greatness

Now, we understand that volunteers can be a complex group to pin down. They run the gamut from teenagers to seniors; some are looking for community involvement, some want a free parking spot. We like to think that most volunteers are passionate about the work they’re doing – if they care to give, odds are, they’re giving because they care. With that in mind, we’ve put together five easy steps you can take to hone your volunteer force into loyal, informed and enthusiastic advocates for your event.

 

Step 1: Train Your Volunteers

Make sure those volunteers know their moves.

Photo cred: wikipedia.org

A training session should include a step-by-step of their actual job duties. Bonus points if you can bring in returning volunteers to give newbies the real low-down on how things will work. Do they know where to check-in when they arrive? Do they know what to bring? Who to talk to if they get lost or confused? Introduce the volunteer coordinator; it’s always helpful to associate a face with the name of the person who’s choreographing the big dance.

Pro tip: a pre-event volunteer training session rarely has perfect attendance, but don’t sweat it. You just need a handful of informed volunteers to lead the rest of the pack.

 

Step 2: Let’s Get Digital

Welcome to 2015. Your volunteers will almost undoubtedly turn the volume up on your events – through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, you-name-it. As representatives of your organization, be sure they understand the gravity and implications of what they post online.

Photo cred: phoenix-society.org
Photo cred: phoenix-society.org

Our best advice? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Leverage social media to draw attention to your event. Create a hashtag you’d like your volunteers to use when they tweet about their experience. Share with them your Facebook page and encourage them to “Like” what you do online. Ask your volunteers to tag your event in their photos (you might even consider hosting a photo contest!). There’s nothing wrong with a little free publicity – just make sure it’s the right kind of publicity.

 

Step 3: Repeat After Me…

Your volunteers are the most visible representation of your organization on-site; make sure they know the lingo. All your volunteers should be able to speak intelligently about your event in case they find themselves on the recording end of a microphone by a media or news outlet.

Moreover, equip each volunteer with a map of the event grounds or venue where they’ll be working, and make sure they can locate information booths and bathrooms on a dime.

 

Step 4: Always Assess Risk

If you’re running a post-race beer garden or beverage tent, prep your volunteers on the signs of alcohol poisoning and where to find birthdates on IDs. Set up wrist-banding stations and coordinate with the local police force wherever possible.

Photo cred: njtreefoundation.org
Photo cred: njtreefoundation.org

If it rains, provide ponchos. If it’s starting to get late, put together a hospitality crew to distribute fresh fruit to your folks on the course. You’re the kind of coordinator who looks out for your volunteers – rain or shine. Keep them happy, hydrated and nourished throughout the day.

If there is the possibility of physical injury during your event, be sure to explain proper protocol to your volunteers and get those waivers signed. Liability less, volunteer more!

 

Step 5: Volunteer Appreciation

The last (and perhaps most important) step of this process is a simple “thank you.” Volunteers love a little kudos (don’t we all?), so make sure they know how much you appreciate their hard work. From a t-shirt to a candy bouquet, a handshake to a milkshake, there are myriad ways to show your gratitude. Try a little tenderness: it’s the key to happy volunteers.

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imATHLETE & VolunteerLocal

imathlete

VolunteerLocal is now the official volunteer registration technology partner to imATHLETE, an industry leader in race registration, e-commerce and social networking.

 

This partnership provides a special list price discount to imATHLETE customers who sign-up on VolunteerLocal. This discount can be applied to any paid plan (Discover or Grow) at the single-event or annual level. “Over the years, VolunteerLocal has continually proven to be a powerful force in volunteer management software,” said imATHLETE CEO Jeff Matlow. “We are beyond excited to integrate with them and ensure imATHLETE continues to provide a one-stop resource for all athletic events.”

VolunteerLocal’s easy-to-use, flexible volunteer scheduling platform was built to serve sporting events of all sizes and types. Our scheduling, coordination and communication resources, combined with our user friendly design, has led our platform to be the resource of choice for such organizations as Twin Cities in Motion, USA Triathlon and the Vancouver International Marathon, among others.

“We are beyond excited about enhancing our relationship with imATHLETE,” said Brian Hemesath, CEO of VolunteerLocal. “imATHLETE is a clear leader in the athletic space and a company that shares our goal of leveraging technology to solve everyday problems of event organizers.”

For more information about this partnership or to request a demonstration, please contact VolunteerLocal directly:

hello@volunteerlocal.com

(800) 909-7370

Tweet us @VolunteerLocal

About imATHLETE
imATHLETE is a different kind of registration company. Blending registration, training and e-commerce technology with the social networking inherent in participatory sports, they are a leading force in the sporting world. With its industry-changing technology, imATHLETE is one of the fastest growing companies in the market. They are transforming the relationship between event organizers and their participants.

imATHLETE’s clients and partners include the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, ASICS Los Angeles Marathon, Austin Marathon, Bike New York, GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon, Dallas Marathon, Twin Cities in Motion, American Trail Running Association, and thousands of others.

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USA Triathlon & VolunteerLocal

Photo cred: www.usatriathlon.org

It’s a match made in triathlon heaven, folks.

VolunteerLocal and USA Triathlon are officially partnering in 2015 to provide a streamlined and simple volunteer management solution to triathlons across the nation.

VolunteerLocal will also serve as an Official Supplier of USA Triathlon, providing online services to help organize volunteers at three USA Triathlon-owned National Championships (Age Group, Duathlon and Youth and Juniors) and other events throughout the year. An easy-to-use, flexible volunteer scheduling platform that was built to serve sporting events of all sizes and types, VolunteerLocal will also provide USA Triathlon race directors with a 10 percent discount.

“I’m excited for this. It will absolutely help us with our events this year!” – Jess Luscinksi, NCAA and Collegiate Triathlon Coordinator at USA Triathlon

See the offiical press release on USA Triathlon’s website.

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

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Operation: Make a Difference

Photo cred: Far Reach Blog

Calling all nonprofits! Far Reach, a software, web-design and internet marketing company is hosting a contest for one nonprofit to win a free development project (website, software, or app) – custom-built and lightning fast. “Make a Difference is the first of our company’s eleven core values,” says Megan Horn, Marketing Specialist at Far Reach. “We decided it would be awesome if we could take one project and do it – from start to finish for a nonprofit organization in need.”

Interested nonprofits can submit their applications for consideration via Far Reach’s Facebook page. Applications are due by Sunday, January 26. Far Reach will choose up to five finalists, based on information submitted in the application, including project scope, potential impact, level of need, and more. Those finalists will collect votes to determine the final winning project, which will be announced February 17.

“The community gives to us and we want to give back.” – Megan Horn, Marketing Specialist, Far Reach

“It’s really open,” says Horn. “We purposefully didn’t put a lot of limits on what we’re willing to build. We want to see what’s out there and what people need.” Whatever it may be, the Far Reach team will attempt to finish the winning project in one weekend – a feat that touches on the company’s second core value: We’re a Team. “The weekend project is going to be a true test of that,” laughs Horn. “There’s no room for picking up slack!”

Operation: Make a Difference isn’t a surprising endeavor for those who are familiar with Far Reach and the active role this company takes to support and empower the greater community. Far Reach is a sponsor of the Technology Association’s networking event, Tech Brew, and many of the company’s employees participated in a kick-ball league last year. Horn adds, “a lot of our business is local, too.”

Want to apply? Throw your name in the hat before the January 26th deadline! And from all of us here at VolunteerLocal, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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