How To Get Happy (Volunteering)

As you’ve probably heard, our motto is happy volunteering. And that’s not just because we’re positive people (have you seen these hundred watt smiles?). We want to make volunteering as easy as possible for our volunteer coordinators and volunteers alike. That’s why we created our Happy Volunteering page, where vivacious volunteers can find nearby volunteer opportunities in their state.

Happy VolunteeringReady to have your events listed on our happy site? We’ve made that pretty easy, too. To get started, go to Account in your navigation bar, and select Organization Info. Hit the link to upload your logo, which will appear above your organization’s name on the Happy Volunteering page.

Now that you have your selfie in order, shoot us an email with a list of your live events, and their locations. We’ll assign them from our end to make sure they show up under the right state. When a volunteer clicks on your organization on the Happy Volunteering page, it will take them directly to your public landing page. You can list your events on your public landing page by going to Event Detail (under Events -> Your Events).

It’s as sweet and simple as that! Got questions, or want your events listed? Shoot Lucy an email at, and get happy!


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Marking those Milestones, Baby

There are many milestones in life – your first steps, your first kiss, your first time seeing Justin Bieber in concert (or so we’ve been told). But none can quite compare to the moment when you hit that million mile marker.

VolunteerLocal has officially had 1.2 MILLION unique volunteers use our platform. Whether they were registering to hand out water at a marathon, check wristbands at a music festival, or assist a local nonprofit, over one million individual people signed up to donate their time to important causes while using our system. That is a serious amount of helping hands!

We here at VolunteerLocal absolutely love being able to aid other organizations as they reach their own milestones, which wouldn’t be possible without the endless support of generous volunteers. Our motto is happy volunteers, because happy volunteers make the world a happier place.

So here’s to all the organizations who have supported us, and the volunteers who have supported them. Cheers to the next 1.2 million!


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Going the Distance with USA Triathlon

We’ll be honest – the last mile we ran didn’t make it below the 10 minute mark (embarrassing, we know). But while running isn’t exactly our forte, we here at VolunteerLocal have serious admiration for those committed to it. Which is part of the reason why we were so thrilled to partner with USA Triathlon last year. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, and sanctions more than 4,300 races – that’s a lot of miles!

USA Triathlon

Speaking of serious mileage, USA Triathlon’s Duathlon National Championships are happening in just a couple weeks, from Thursday, June 23rd through Saturday, June 25th in Bend, Oregon. The Championships are the culmination of the Duathlon season, which exhibits some of the top Duathletes in the United States.

Whether you love or hate running, we’re calling on all volunteers to show off their own serious skills. USA Triathlon is looking for enthusiastic folks to assist with packet pick up, aid stations, the awards ceremony, and general race support. In return, volunteers will receive a sweet t-shirt, delicious food, and the chance to get to watch some incredible athletes.

Interested in helping these runners and cyclists go the distance? Hit the pavement and volunteer now.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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3 Iowa Music Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

This summer, don’t fly over the Midwest – party right on through it. Here are three rockin’ music festivals in Iowa that you definitely don’t want to miss.

Low on cash? Lucky for you, they’re all offering free admission for volunteers. So round up your posse, pair up those party pants with your giving galoshes (sorry, we had to) and head out for some happy volunteering!

While you’re perusing, be sure to check out VolunteerLocal’s Music Festival Spotify playlist, showcasing our favorite songs from this year’s headliners of all three major Iowa music festivals!

80/35 Music Festival

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July 10th – 11th, 2015

For many in Iowa’s capital city of Des Moines, the 80/35 Music Festival is a summertime staple. Aptly named for it’s unique (and rather convenient) location along the intersection of Interstates 80 and 35, this festival has earned a stellar reputation for luring high-profile headliners into the heartland. Included in 80/35’s roster of past performers are The Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes, the Wu-Tang Clan and the Avett Brothers.

2015 Headliners: Weezer, WILCO, St. Lucia and Talib Kweli


Hinterland Music Festival

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July 31st – August 2nd, 2015

If you’ve ever lived in, or visited Iowa in the wintertime – you’ll probably get the joke. Playfully dubbed Hinterland, Iowa’s newest festival is out to prove that this Midwestern state is anything but an unchartered, vast and wintery terrian. Set against the backdrop of Iowa’s gorgeous Water Works Park, Hinterland seeks to integrate elements of art, sculpture, craft vendors and cycling into a traditional music festival format.

2015 Headliners: Old Crow Medicine Show, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes


Gentlemen of the Road 

Volunteer Opportunities: Coming Soon!


June 19th – 20th, 2015

This one may sound like a fancy affair, but trust us: no dress pants allowed. Waverly, Iowa was announced as the second stopover city on the GOTR nationwide tour earlier this year, and attendance is expected to triple the population of Waverly for two whole days. No joke. Want to get in on this action? Sign-up for our Happy Volunteering newsletter and we’ll make sure you’re one of the first to know when volunteer opportunities go live.

Headliners: My Morning Jacket, Mumford & Sons, The Flaming Lips, Dawes



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