How to Get Volunteers Involved in Your Hybrid Events: 4 Tips
Hybrid fundraising has gained momentum as a way to bring fundraising events to both live and virtual audiences. By giving your supporters multiple ways to engage at your event, you empower them to still show up in the way that is most convenient for them.
But while hybrid events offer the advantage of flexibility, they do require a bit more planning than solely in-person or virtual events. So how can you ensure that your hybrid event runs smoothly and creates a great experience for your guests, whether they’re at home or in-person?
The answer is easy: get your volunteers involved!
Whether you have an active volunteer board or a handful of dedicated volunteers, these supporters can help ensure your hybrid event goes off without a hitch. Plus, you’ll be able to get your volunteers even more involved with your nonprofit.
Here are our top tips for how to get your volunteers involved in your hybrid events:
- Get volunteers involved in the planning process.
- Create a volunteer tech team.
- Make volunteers the go-to for questions and directions.
- Encourage volunteers to lead breakout sessions.
Your volunteers can take a huge load off your hands at your next hybrid fundraiser and contribute even more good to your community. Let’s take a closer look at how you can encourage volunteer involvement in your nonprofit’s next hybrid event.
1. Get volunteers involved in the planning process.
As we’ve already mentioned, hybrid events require a lot of planning, so the more hands you have on deck, the better. And your volunteers are the perfect individuals to help — they have a great understanding of your mission and they have a different (but valuable!) perspective than your staff.
Here’s how you can get your volunteers involved in the planning process:
- Encourage volunteers to connect with the community: Your volunteers are connected with their own communities, and their personal experiences with volunteering likely influence their close friends and family members. Not only can volunteers help increase the number of attendees at your event, but they might also recruit more volunteers to help run it!
- Hold a brainstorming session: Who doesn’t love a good brainstorming session? Invite your volunteers to help you brainstorm hybrid event ideas, engaging fundraising strategies, interactive activities, marketing strategies, and more.
- Ask volunteers about their skill sets: Your volunteers may be able to use their passions to help market and run your event. Don’t be afraid to reference your volunteer data to see which volunteers might have helpful skills to share with your nonprofit. Perhaps one is a graphic designer and could help you create amazing marketing materials for your event. All you have to do is ask!
Involving your volunteers in the planning process can give them a glimpse into the inner workings of your organization, and may even give them a say in how the event unfolds. Your volunteers are an important voice for your nonprofit, so their feedback should be integral to how you plan and execute your event.
2. Create a volunteer tech team.
As the hybrid event manager, you can’t personally oversee every detail of your event. Between welcoming guests, making schedules, and driving donations to power your mission, you don’t have time for unreliable technology. And without the right technology, you risk losing half of your audience!
You can easily solve this problem by recruiting some of your volunteers to run a tech team. Your tech team will be responsible for checking that all the technology is working correctly, troubleshooting problems that your attendees might have encountered, and ensuring that your virtual guests have a wonderful experience.
Having a dedicated tech team is especially important if you’ll be using several different virtual engagement methods, such as breakout rooms, live-streaming, chat features, and more. Your volunteers can handle every transition to ensure that things run smoothly. This way, you can direct your attention to engaging your guests.
If you decide to create a volunteer tech team, be sure to host one or more thorough training sessions leading up to the event. While some of your volunteers may already have relevant experience, it’s crucial that each of them understands your hybrid event platform and other virtual tools so that there’s no confusion on the day of your event.
3. Make volunteers the go-to for questions and directions.
Volunteers can be the friendly face that helps your guests get the information they need. According to this OneCause guide on planning hybrid events, clear communication is one of the best ways to maintain engagement among your audience.
But trying to field questions when you’re in the middle of managing your event can be a challenge. That’s where your volunteers come in!
Your volunteers can serve as a liaison between event management and your attendees, ensuring that all your guests have the information they need to engage with the event and your mission. Here are a few tips that you can use to help your volunteers facilitate a smooth event:
- Create a volunteer event guide: If your volunteers will be the main interface between you and your guests, be sure they have the answers to all potential questions. For instance, if you’re hosting an advocacy event, your guests might be wondering what next actions they should take, and your volunteers should be able to answer their questions. Provide your volunteers with an event guide with everything from links for virtual chat rooms to event schedules to where your in-person guests will eat lunch.
- Make volunteers clearly identifiable: Your guests need to know exactly who they should look for in case they have a question. Give your volunteers t-shirts or name tags to make them easily identifiable for your guests.
- Ensure volunteers are available in-person and virtually: In-person and virtual guests will likely have questions unique to their experience, so be sure to have volunteers available for both groups.
Your volunteers can act as great representatives of your organization, and giving them some face-to-face time with your attendees can help build stronger relationships between your organization and wider community.
4. Encourage volunteers to lead breakout sessions.
Breakout sessions encourage your guests to share their ideas and connect with one another. Plus, they can help you bridge the gap between in-person and online attendees so that the experience feels more united.
If you want to get your volunteers more involved in your hybrid events, consider allowing them to host these breakout sessions. Not only will this give volunteers the chance to connect with the community, but they’ll also be able to discuss their passion in a more intimate space.
Here are our top tips to best prepare your volunteers to lead discussions:
- Host a training session: While some of your volunteers may be natural leaders, others might need a bit more direction when it comes to hosting a discussion. Training sessions are especially important if your nonprofit deals with sensitive topics, so it’s crucial that your volunteers feel prepared to handle any type of comment.
- Encourage discussion leaders to get to know each other: Each of your discussion leaders should feel part of a bigger team, so encourage your leaders to get to know one another. Your training session is the perfect opportunity to introduce your volunteers to one another and host some icebreaker activities.
- Prepare questions in advance: Sometimes discussions can stall. Hosting a brainstorming session with your discussion leaders to prepare some questions in advance can help volunteers keep the conversation moving, even if your guests aren’t sure what to say.
Breakout rooms will be engaging for volunteers and guests, so be sure to incorporate them into your hybrid event strategy!
Hybrid events are the perfect opportunity to engage your volunteers and give them a behind-the-scenes look at how your nonprofit works. The best way to drive meaningful engagement is to use your volunteers’ strengths and give them tasks that resonate with their passions — whether that’s using technology or connecting with others.