We’ve posted at length about how important volunteers are to running a successful event. Beyond reducing costs by offering free work, they also perform important tasks and can support your event through encouragement to participants and social media marketing.
Communicate with Gratitude
Never take your volunteers for granted. They may be helping you out of the goodness of their hearts, but that doesn’t mean your actions have no impact on their willingness to help. A simple but sincere “thank you” can go a long way.
At the same time, losing your temper at a volunteer or treating them like a replaceable commodity is a surefire way to make them never want to come back. Even if you don’t have money or in-kind gifts to give them, go out of your way to tell them you appreciate them.
Use Those Sponsorships
Your sponsors may be more than willing to give your volunteers special perks or even giveaways or t-shirts. In fact, if you’ve got a sponsor who is wary of giving money or donations, you can ask them to be your volunteer sponsor and provide employees from their organization to staff your event. They can use existing internal structures to reward the volunteers and make it worth their while.
Put it on Social Media
Make sure you thank your volunteers as often and as publicly as possible. Social media is a great way to profile specific volunteers and highlight ways that they’ve helped. Bonus: they’ll want to share the post with their social networks, giving you even more marketing value. Just be sure you get their permission first!
Think from a Volunteer’s Point of View
Your volunteers will come to your event for various reasons, and the best way to figure out how to thank them is to consider those “whys”.
If volunteers are there because they care about the charity you’re supporting, make sure you don’t lose sight of that and highlight the amount of money you’ve raised in your advertising materials. If they’re volunteering to cheer on their loved ones who are participating in the event, make sure you give them a scheduled time to do so.
Give What You Already Have
Volunteers don’t just have to work the day of your event or at all of your events to be helpful and important. One way to incentivize volunteers is to give them a free registration for your race or an upcoming event. This is how BONEFROG Navy SEAL Mud Run encourages volunteers to give their time, and can also pad your participation numbers without spending anything.