Guest post blog submitted by: JotForm, an easy-to-use form building tool for businesses and nonprofits of all sizes.
Whether you’re organizing a charity event for 50 influential donors, a conference for 500 attendees, or a music festival for 5,000 fans, the secret to a great event lies in having an amazing team of volunteers.
As a nonprofit, you may not have the budget to recruit a large event staff or outsource portions of your event to event production vendors. This is where hard-working volunteers can be your greatest asset.
One way to recruit volunteers is through an online signup form on your website or event page. The more care and thought you put into this process, the more likely you’ll recruit volunteers who will go above and beyond to help out your event and your organization.
In this post, we’ll walk through the process of building your volunteer signup form.
1. Be specific about your volunteer team needs.
Because every event is different, it’s important to be clear about what you need. Here are some things to think through at the beginning:
- The number of volunteers you need
- What you can delegate and assign to volunteers vs your event team
- What roles and responsibilities volunteers will need to fill
- The specific days and times when you need volunteers
- Who is responsible for communicating with the volunteer team
2. Decide on the signup form software you’re going to use.
The next step is to figure out where you’re going to host and build your signup form. Many online form builders even have templates for volunteer signup forms.
In fact, JotForm has more than 75 different volunteer signup form templates. Making small copy and design tweaks to a template, rather than building a form from scratch, can save you a ton of time.
3. Use the intro section of your form to share the “why” behind your event.
Volunteers aren’t getting paid. So one of the most important things you need to do is sell people on why they should volunteer their time to help your nonprofit put on this event. There are many different approaches you can take to do this, including:
- Sharing the background on why you started this event in the first place
- Sharing stories from past volunteers
- Talking about the benefits and the perks of being a volunteer
4. Ask for any relevant, personal details.
The next section of your form should ask for any personal details. At a minimum, you should ask for the person’s name and email address. This is just like collecting data for your donor analytics, but with the added logistical need to know certain things in order to give volunteers a positive, safe experience, as well.
Here are a few additional things you may want to ask for upfront:
- Ask for their age if your event is taking place in a bar or you’ll be serving alcohol.
- If you need to send them anything in advance or plan on sending a handwritten thank-you note or a small token of appreciation after the event, ask for their mailing address.
- Get their t-shirt size if volunteers get a t-shirt.
- If you provide any meals for volunteers, ask about food allergies or dietary restrictions. For example, if one of your volunteers is deathly allergic to peanuts, and you’re planning on serving chicken satay with peanut sauce, you can make arrangements in advance so that you don’t wind up sending your volunteer to the emergency room. Likewise, if any of your volunteers are vegans, you can offer a vegan-friendly option.
5. Confirm they’re available to help when you need them.
This almost seems too obvious to include, but make sure to confirm when and how long volunteers are able to volunteer at your event. It can be helpful to set this up as a dropdown or checkbox option on your form, where they can select all of the time slots they’re available.
6. Find out what they want to help with.
Since they’re volunteering their time, the least you can do is try to assign them to tasks or teams where they have an interest or prior experience.
For example, you can break down your volunteer team into smaller teams, such as registration, greeters, photography, social media, and tech setup. You can ask people to rank their choices from most to least interested.
You can also ask them if they have any specific skills that may be relevant. If you find out that one of your volunteers is a social media manager for a big e-commerce brand, they could help with posting fun social media updates for your event.
7. Give them an outlet to suggest ideas and ask questions.
In addition, solicit feedback and suggestions from volunteers on your signup form. You never know where your next great idea is going to come from. This is also a way for volunteers to ask questions.
8. Send a thank-you message.
Showing how much you appreciate all of your volunteers will pay off in spades. They will be more likely to volunteer again and encourage their friends, family, and colleagues to volunteer as well.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. Oftentimes, simple things done well, like a well-written thank you email or a short video when they submit their signup form, can go a long way.
Pro tip: Another way to thank your volunteer team is to invite them out for a thank-you meal after the event. If you’re on a tight budget, one way to save money without skimping on quality is to host a volunteer team breakfast or brunch instead of a group dinner. Not only is breakfast cheaper, but you’ll also save on alcohol costs, which can really eat into your event budget.
9. Promote your volunteer signup form.
Finally, make sure to get the word out that you’re looking for volunteers. Here are some tips:
- Share the signup form with your friends, family, and colleagues.
- Post it on social media (multiple times!).
- Embed it on your website.
- Send it to your email list.
Spending your time recruiting and empowering your volunteers is one of the most important things you can do. They can not only take some of the stress and pressure off your plate, but they can also come up with and execute ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of.