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When asking “What are the most valuable event planning tools?” so many answers come to mind; event management software, an event planning checklist and event planning templates to name a few. And as the years speed by, hopefully, we acquire experience and knowledge, and take all that we’ve learned and apply it to our day to day work experience.
I have found, for me, one of the most valuable event planning tools is event volunteering. I am a big fan of including and working with event volunteers wherever possible. A practice I have put to good use during the last twenty years or so when planning and coordinating events and conferences.
Event volunteers are able to fill both basic and significant positions. Responsibilities can include anything from meet and greets to sponsorship, logistics to set up and tear down. Event volunteers bring a variety of skills to the table that can truly add to the event. Besides the good karma that comes along with volunteering, for those looking to enter the event planning industry, it’s such a great way to gain experience and contacts.
Event Planning Tools – Step up to the Plate…
Personally, I truly love volunteering and do so on a very regular basis. The primary reason I volunteer is to lend a hand, both for industry events as well as in my community. It allows me to help out where needed and share my skills and know-how. And hopefully learn a thing or two along the way! In addition to the incredibly rewarding feeling you experience when you help, it is also a prime opportunity to learn new things.
Recently I had one of the best event volunteering experiences of my life. A friend asked if I could help out at a “Fun Fair” fundraiser and I immediately said yes. A grass-roots type of event, the Fun Fair fundraiser was in support of a community based literary art initiative. This not for profit experiment in sustainable printing produces special book projects by artists and writers. And then publishes them in limited-edition, print-on-demand runs and is a really worthwhile organization.
Event Planning Tools – The Fun Starts Here…
The team (comprised entirely of volunteers) that was responsible for the planning had minimal event experience. But what they lacked in knowledge they made up for in creativity and enthusiasm. When they first started planning, they tried to figure out how to put on a successful event with almost no budget and a team of three (major stumbling blocks for any of us). And then like a bolt of lightning, they realized…to be successful they had to utilize and rely on event volunteers.
They decided to have an old fashioned carnival, normally for kids but this time for adults. This evening event ensured that the fun began upon arrival. The indoor carnival was reminiscent of the carnivals of our youth. There was no admission charged but instead, a $10.00 donation was requested. It was great to see the majority of guests donate above and beyond what was asked for. There was a bar (an addition from our youth), a delicious bake table area, raffles and games, games and more games that for every try you received a prize. Because it was the publishing world, there was a “kiss the celebrity author booth”. And it all played out to the dulcet tones of author readings and groovy music.
The event was coordinated and operated solely by volunteers. Some knew each other and some didn’t, but we were all there with the same purpose…raise funds and ensure the guests had a darn good time. And that we did! By the end of the evening, volunteers of all ages were exchanging contact information with promises of future get togethers and group volunteer experiences.
But more importantly, we were there to raise funds. And again that we did! Those who attended were so generous that we doubled the projected amount. The volunteers were treated with respect and appreciation (which doesn’t always happen), trusted with the task at hand and left to soar. As a result, volunteers and guests had a great experience, while raising funds for a worthwhile cause. Proving what a great event planning tool volunteerism is.
Working with, and as an event volunteer can be a rewarding experience on both sides. When planning and looking at event planning tools remember to include event volunteers in your design. They really do enhance and add to the success of your event.