Volunteers are the heart and soul of every festival. The kind of flair a festival has depends highly on its volunteers and team spirit which can, believe it or not, be felt more or less extensively. Choosing volunteers and organizing their tasks is therefore definitely an extremely important part of your organization process. There are a couple of steps which should (in my opinion) be regarded while you’re making a network of volunteers, which will make sure you sleep peacefully and keep the festival clock ticking right on time.
Predicting the exact amount of work you’re going to have within an industry which has unpredictable circumstances written all over it could be quite interesting :) This is why it’s always good to have a couple of people extra to jump in, if the going gets tough. So whenever you’re planning the numbers make sure you think of those “unwanted and unpredictable” situations as if they’re a part of the regular program ;)
Once you’ve got the overall picture, it’s quite useful to divide the whole into several parts and organize teams of volunteers which will work on a particular field. This will enable you to keep track of the work progress better and the volunteers will be more productive if they have the same scope of tasks to fulfill every day.
Before their arrival, make sure that all groups of volunteers know what their tasks on spot will be. If possible, you can also send them their schedules before their arrival. In any case – make sure they’re all satisfied with their assigned shifts before the work starts. When you go through the schedule, make a range of meetings with all groups of volunteers respectively and make sure you explain everything they need to know regarding their work. Provide them with useful info based on some previous experiences, with emergency phone numbers and try to predict all possible issues they could have at their respective work places – make sure they all know how to handle problems next to the regular tasks they’re required to do.
This is probably the hardest task of all because it involves a lot of combining, especially when you have many volunteers to make a schedule for. Your primary task is to make sure they all have approximately the same amount of working hours. You also have to make sure that those who work late don’t start early the next morning and, most importantly, that they all get approximately the same from the festival experience. Keep in mind that you have a group of volunteers working for you, giving up on their free time to make your event happen, so the least you can do is give all of them a chance to experience the festival a bit.
Never neglect the effort they are putting in to make your event work! They are the driving force of your event and without them you wouldn’t be able to do anything. Respond to their efforts with kindness, listen to their problems, be open to any suggestions and make their volunteering experience the best it can be. Since you’re not paying them money, pay them with your enormous gratitude and politeness.
In any case, any kind of work with people is quite challenging, but it’s also extremely rewarding, so the better you organize your volunteers, the happier and more satisfied they’ll be, which will eventually bring to you some pretty amazing friendships, a bunch of great memories and one hell of an event that everyone is going to talk about :)