Volunteer organizers can be very scary peopleAt a large educational conference, a volunteer coordinator was responsible for getting other volunteers to manage key operations such as registration, check in and the silent auction as well as offer general assistance.

When asked by the Executive Director she reported that she had plenty of help lined up. She balked when asked for a list, insisting she had it more than covered.

But They Said They’d Be Here

When only two volunteers turned up on the morning of registration, the line of over 400 people waiting to check in stretched out into the hotel lobby and many of them missed breakfast. The silent auction was the same story with only one volunteer turning up to manage it resulting in a greatly reduced number of items and bids.

Long Lines at registrationThe lasting impression of this event for guests was long lines, missed opportunities, impatience and inefficiency.

The Lesson

As best you can, have staff perform key operations – if you can’t, double, if not triple, the number of volunteers you think you’re going to need; life always gets in the way.

Give those volunteers as much information as possible, the most important, of course, is the location of the nearest restroom.

Got a war story of your own? Leave it in the comments below.
If you’d like some help with a fundraising event you’re planning, get in touch.

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This is part 4 of an 8 part series in "What not to do when planning your Fundraising event".

1 – Death, Taxes and the other Unavoidable, the Weather
2 – I Love Planning Parties!
3 – Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan, then Drink
5 – Not Managing the Schedule
6 – Not Managing the Date
7 – Not Thinking of the Small Picture
8 – Not Saying Thank You

Image Credits:
She can be very scary when she’s angry by Kel Patalog on Flickr
Niña y camélidos by guillenperez on Flickr