Managing Virtual Event Volunteers: 5 Best PracticesMay 3 | 9 min read
As an event planner, you’ve probably realized that virtual events are here to stay. Virtual events allow you to engage a wider audience and make your organization’s experiences more accessible for attendees and volunteers alike.
Many events rely on volunteers to execute important roles and responsibilities and keep everything running smoothly. When an event goes virtual, that means the volunteer team goes virtual too. Managing virtual volunteers requires digital-specific tactics and tools to adapt administrative processes to the digital space.
Let’s cover some best practices for virtual volunteer management that you can implement for your next virtual event:
- Choose events that volunteers are interested in.
- Recruit new and existing supporters to get involved.
- Leverage your online event metrics.
- Assign specific and detailed roles.
- Encourage online engagement leading up to the event.
Above all, what’s most important is offering volunteers and attendees alike an enjoyable and memorable experience. Whether you’re planning a virtual corporate event, nonprofit fundraiser, or anything in between, these tips will set your volunteers and your event as a whole up for success.
Choose events that volunteers are interested in.
To encourage individuals to volunteer with your virtual event, make sure there is something in it for them. For example, a virtual fundraising event for a local charity or food bank will attract volunteers who are interested in the cause and are connected to the community. Other volunteers might be interested in opportunities to network or meet new people with similar interests.
Volunteers are more likely to be engaged if they’re interested in the event, so consider asking for opinions beforehand using a pre-event survey. The more insight you can gather, the greater the experience you will be able to deliver for them.
We recommend asking potential volunteers questions such as:
- Are you interested in participating in a virtual volunteer experience? Why or why not?
- What types of virtual events would you like to attend?
- What virtual volunteer role are you most interested in?
- What drew you about volunteering with our organization?
These questions help you get to the heart of why volunteers are interested in helping your organization and what they find most appealing about your virtual opportunities. You can capitalize on these motivations in your marketing and recruitment efforts.
Recruit new and existing supporters to get involved.
If you’ve planned events in the past, chances are you already have a great resource at your fingertips: your supporters. Previous event volunteers and supporters offer a great starting point to recruit for your upcoming virtual event volunteer opportunities.
To get started, look through your volunteer database and assess the resources you already have at your disposal. Reach out to your existing volunteer base, inviting them to volunteer for your virtual event. Consider offering them the first pick of opportunities or shifts as a perk to get them on board.
Once you leverage your existing volunteers, it’s time to start looking at recruiting new ones as well. Since these volunteer opportunities are remote, you have the opportunity to recruit people from all over the world! Here are a few great tips for recruiting new volunteers and marketing your upcoming opportunity:
1. Create detailed volunteer opportunity descriptions that can be accessed online.
2. Promote upcoming volunteer opportunities on your website and social media pages.
3. Offer an easy online sign-up process that allows you to collect all the information you need, like skills and certifications.
4. Allow volunteers to sign up for shifts they are qualified for, giving them choices regarding what times and roles work best.
By making the most of your existing network of dedicated volunteers and expanding your reach to new individuals, you’ll have a strong team to help support your virtual event through every step of the process.
Leverage your online event metrics.
When it comes to running an online or virtual event, ditch the spreadsheets and clipboards for purpose-built online tools and software. From virtual event software and CRMs to robust volunteer management software solutions and donation processors, you need the right tools to help you stay organized and track key metrics.
The more data you can collect, like ticket sales, volunteer sign-ups, and website conversions, the more prepared you will be to make your virtual event a success. Data is king now more than ever, and routinely analyzing your data and adjusting your strategies accordingly will allow you to maximize your success.
For example, if you notice that you have sold more tickets than expected, you might consider bringing in more volunteers to help manage that extra virtual attendance. Or, if you notice your online sign-up page for the event isn’t getting much traffic, you can deploy volunteers to share the page across their social media profiles.
Plus, your virtual tools will come in handy after your event, allowing you to assess the successes and challenges of your volunteer engagement strategies and determine how you can better manage virtual volunteers in the future.
Assign specific and detailed roles.
Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of volunteers is essential to ensure that the individual understands exactly what they are signing up for. This is especially critical for virtual volunteering opportunities since online volunteers might feel more disconnected from the event since they’re not participating in person.
The last thing you want to do is have virtual volunteers who are confused and ill-equipped to work on the event day. Create detailed role descriptions that outline everything from the required skills to the resources the volunteer will need, such as a good internet connection and access to a computer.
By creating and defining all the detailed volunteer roles using your volunteer management software beforehand, you can ensure every volunteer understands exactly what is required of them and what they will be doing during each shift. The more information you can provide, the more prepared and successful they will be on the event day.
Encourage online engagement leading up to the event.
People are more active on social media than ever before, which means leveraging your social media channels to promote your event is critical. From Instagram contests to virtual Q&As, your volunteers can play an important role in promoting your event to their own networks.
Consider creating dedicated social media volunteer roles to get your volunteers involved, with daily duties such as promoting your event on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. You can even incentivize your volunteers to share your content through social media by hosting a contest for those who post the most or bring in the most views.
Also, consider giving your volunteers a way to connect before virtual event day. You can host a virtual meet-and-greet, complete with fun icebreaker games, to help volunteers feel more included and comfortable working with the team. When your volunteers get to know one another, it creates greater camaraderie and better teamwork on the event day itself.
There’s no doubt that the rise of virtual events and hybrid events is here to stay. These event formats offer a great opportunity to reach audiences worldwide, making the need to rethink and manage your event volunteers more critical than ever. With these best practices, you and your volunteers will be able to deliver great event experiences online for years to come.