Build Your Audience by Building Your Volunteer Program
In 2011, over 64 million people volunteered for an organization at least once. Volunteers are critical partners within organizations and within the community. Performing Arts Centers, Community Theaters, and Concert Halls all depend on volunteers to help keep things running smoothly. From ushering to helping out at concessions, volunteers play a key role in making the theater-going experience richer for patrons.
Here’s five tips for creating and maintaining a robust volunteer program in your performing arts organization.
Volunteering can be so much more than just ushering and taking tickets. Most volunteers have valuable life and work experience to contribute, and sometimes all it takes is giving them the opportunity to shine. Think about other ways volunteers can help aside from the typical roles of usher, ticker-taker, or event staff. Offering more robust opportunities can keep volunteers interested and help them feel more valued, increasing the chance that they will stay on for years to come.
Supervising, evaluating and even promoting volunteers will keep them committed to your organization.
2. Emphasize customer service
Volunteers are the backbone of many performing arts organizations. Ensuring volunteers understand their impact on customer service can play a huge role in exceeding customer expectations.
A thorough training program that emphasizes customer service helps volunteers feel confident when dealing with patrons. Formal classes, on-the-job-training, online information, handbooks, safety training, and mentoring programs can all contribute to a positive experience for both the volunteer and the customer!
Host a new volunteers coffee event. Pair new volunteers with more experienced ones, to help them learn the ropes. Plan social events to help volunteers feel part of the community. Make sure volunteers know whom to contact if they have questions.
While volunteers may only put in two hours a week or work one performance a month, they help organizations exceed expected levels of customer service. Surprising a customer by exceeding their expectations is a great to make sure that the first time ticket buyer comes back again and again.
3. Utilize social media to recruit and engage volunteers
Twitter, Facebook, Google Groups and other social media can help spread a wide net for finding and keeping volunteers who are interested in helping.
Once on board, keep the lines of communication open with volunteers by posting information on social media about upcoming performances, social events, and training opportunities. Post photos of volunteers in action, share stories of positive customer comments, and share volunteering tips. Keep your theater’s social media engine active to help volunteers stay connected with the organization.
Volunteering has many benefits. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn a new skill, be part of the community, boost career options, and explore new interests. Creating a robust volunteer program within your organization is vital to its long-term health.
4. Empower volunteers through free online signup sheets
Volunteers are influencers within your community and have active lives. Keeping track of their various commitments can be a challenge. Provide volunteers with the option to choose the dates, times, and specific tasks they are interested in through online volunteer management software to increase the likelihood that they will sign up. And, because they receive automatic email reminders, they are more likely to show up.
Online tools also make it easier for volunteer organizers to set up and keep track of the volunteer schedule, generate reports, and send messages to volunteers. This data also provides valuable information when recognizing volunteers at the end of the year.
Influencers are a vital part of performing arts organizations. Through volunteers, performing arts organizations are able spread their name and gain support in new social circles through a multitude of platforms.
5. Show appreciation
Volunteers strengthen the quality of your organization, and its important to show how much you appreciate the time and energy they put into making each and every performance and event a special one for patrons.
Appreciation can come in many forms, including:
- Written Affirmations: Emails, letters, cards
- Tangible benefits: theater discounts, invitations to special events, free parking, free or discounted tickets to local events
- Public Recognition: press release, article in the local paper, mention in the newsletter, recognition luncheon or dinner
- Plaque on the wall, Volunteer of the month
- Online or actual photo wall
- Community service awards
Volunteers connect with arts organizations and each other in powerful and positive ways. By recognizing volunteers, they are more likely to remain loyal to the theater by deepening their connection and commitment to the arts.
A well-run volunteer program helps make the experience a positive one for all involved. Using a free online volunteer management system like VolunteerSpot saves tons of time, is easy to use, and makes the job of volunteer coordinator super easy! Visit VolunteerSpot.com today and give it a try.