3 Questions EVERY Event Should Ask When Creating a Fan Volunteer Labor Program

3 Questions EVERY Event Should Ask When Planning a Volunteer Program

1- Is there enough interest?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but your event needs to have an offering that folks are truly interested in. Granted, there is a wide berth to this quality, as let me tell yah, you can find groups of people interested in nearly anything these days, thanks to the internets. But seriously, finding enough folks interested in event offerings can be one of the toughest challenges producers face, and they can spend incredible amounts of money on headlining acts and special experiential performances to that end.

When putting together a fan labor program, such as a team of volunteers to help run the ticket booth or assist with directing and parking cars, it’s important to get a good gauge of the event’s fan base size – the program success or failure rests in the ability to recruit ample fans to fill the requesting shifts.

Tortuga Festival Volunteers Assisting with the Information Team
Tortuga Festival Volunteers Assisting with the Information Team

The old adage ‘the larger the fan base, the more to recruit from’ is true to a given extent, however having a large fan base does not automatically equate an abundant volunteer pool. The fan base must be motivated and willing – they must have interest.

Certain event genres produce more motivated fans than others. There are events whose fans want to be a part of making the magic, while other events may have fans so dedicated to the attendee experience that no ticket price is high enough to make them want to miss out while on shift working. Some fans value the working perspective as a part of the experience, while others see it as, well, work.

There are two main ways to increase interest – increase the fan pool by increasing overall event interest (aka add a new headliner) or improve the volunteer fan labor program’s offerings. A well executed marketing plan geared towards the volunteer program leading up to the event is also paramount to creating interest.

Certain event genres produce more motivated fans than others. There are events whose fans want to be a part of making the magic, while other events may have fans so dedicated to the attendee experience that no ticket price is high enough to make them want to miss out while on shift working. Some fans value the working perspective as a part of the experience, while others see it as, well, work.

2. What sort of jobs/tasks are required?

Events must keep in mind what sort of tasks a typical event fan will be capable of completing, at a satisfactory level. This is not in reference to physical disability, but rather, the matching of appropriate shift tasks, times and lengths to folks that can reasonably complete the tasks and during those times and for that long.

Electric Forest Festival Fan Worker
Tom at Electric Forest is ready to get to start his shift!

Gauging the event fan demographics and the general genre can assist in developing appropriate shift tasks and structure. For example, if the age demographics are 65+, it may be prudent to cut the late night clean up shifts. If the event demographics are <25, it may be possible to expect fans to work longer shifts on their feet assisting in parking or toll booth operation

3. When is the work?

Fans must be available to perform the tasks at the day and time needed by the event. It’s great if 500 fans are interested in helping out, but if the tasks needed are on the Friday prior to the event, and only 5% can assist on that day, then really all you have is 25. A great way to ensure the fan pool is available when your event needs them is to require all fans to be available the duration of the event’s open hours, and segment out ample fans to cover any shifts that may fall outside that window early in the program process.

The FAN is undeniably the most important factor in the fan volunteer labor program – it is vital to assess the fan pool and individual motivators. Asking these 3 questions in the planning process can ensure that there is ample interest and the program will be reasonably able to cover requesting shifts, the program structure and tasks assigned to volunteer fan workers are appropriate to the fan individual, and of course that the fans are available when needed.

It’s much better to add shifts later when the recruitment numbers exceed the needs, rather cutting shifts last minute and leaving event department SOL last minute.

– Said every event producer, ever.

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