ILEA Quick Tips for Event Planners: March 2018

Tips and tricks for building a team of rock star volunteers.

Non-profit event planners are acutely aware of the value and the drawbacks of utilizing volunteer help when pulling off their annual events.
As it generally goes, hiring staff and contractors is not usually a priority in the budget for most fundraisers. Yet, earlier this year, when the Super Bowl came to Minneapolis, the general public received firsthand experience of the value volunteers can provide as Crew 52 helped welcome the world to the Bold North.
Before you create and train your own team of volunteers, keep these tips in mind:

  • Tap into the benefits they will receive for getting involved with your organization and match that up with people looking for that type of engagement, experience or perk.
  • Whenever possible, sit down with prospective individuals and interview them like you are looking to hire them for a paid position.
  • Empower your volunteers by sharing your expectations, a description of their duties and give them the proper training they will need to be successful.
  • Check in regularly with your team and ask for feedback and ideas. The people working in the trenches at your event often have some of the best insight on how to make improvements.
  • Celebrate your rock stars and don’t be afraid to fire those that are causing drama or not meeting your expectations.

Follow these steps and you’ll surely give your volunteers a positive experience, while also building a group of helpers who will want to work on any of the efforts your organization is involved in down the road.
For more advice on creating best practices and ways to further develop your program, check out the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration.
Meghan Gustafson has worked in the events industry for over 14 years and she is currently the Director of Events and Programs for the mpls downtown council (mdc) which manages Holidazzle and the Minneapolis Aquatennial. Prior to her work at mdc she spent 11 years with The Basilica Landmark executing their fundraising events including The Basilica Block Party featuring over 1,600 volunteer positions. Meghan is also a former Board President for the International Live Events Association Minneapolis – St. Paul Chapter.

International Live Events Association (ILEA) represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally – event professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact

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