Planning events can be exhausting, time-consuming, and expensive, and volunteers can either help alleviate these issues or make them worse. It is the job of the organization to set expectations and roles & responsibilities for their volunteers when it comes to planning an event.
I've worked with event committees throughout my career, and while they are an integral part of an event's success, they are not utilized effectively in most cases. When you think about an event committee, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Picking a menu, designing floral arrangements, and designing the invitation, correct? Those are all the correct answers for what volunteers think they should be doing, but that is not the best way for them to be helping the organization they care about.
Nowadays event attendees want to go to an event and see that their money is going to help the cause not feed the people in the room, so the focus of the event committee should not be on these details. They need to be more "outward-facing" not "inward-facing", meaning, they need to serve as ambassadors for the organization to the rest of the community. They need to spread the word about the event, and even more importantly: your organization, and recruit people to come. There's no sense in worrying about the menu if there's no one their to eat the food, right?
It's a difficult balance when working with volunteers because they are giving you their time, and you want to show them your appreciation, but that does not mean that you bend to their every whim. Organizations must be upfront with their volunteers on how they can best serve the agency, from the start, and provide them with the education they need to go out into the community. Don't expect them to know what to say; educate them and empower them to work for you, and they will feel like they are apart of something bigger than just one event.
Lisa Wein, Consultant
I have loved event planning for as long as I can remember. Whether it's a fundraising gala, wedding, or a corporate meeting, I get a thrill when the event is perfectly planned and the client is happy.
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