Managing Director, Christine Rooney, Shares Volunteer Management Advice
The Lighthouse International Film Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to showcasing new and innovative films and fostering the next generation of filmmakers. The festival offers three days of films, panels, Q&A's, networking, parties and surfing, and draws some of the industry's top film critics, producers and distributors. The festival also seeks to serve the community by presenting unique programs that inspire, engage and challenge a diverse audience through the art of film.
Today, our Volunteer Spotlight shines on Christine Rooney, Managing Director of the festival who uses VolunteerSpot's online signup sheets to organize volunteers during the festival.
Tell us about your organization and your volunteer needs.
The Lighthouse International Film Festival was founded by a collection of filmmakers, film critics and film industry professionals who share a passion for film and wanted to create an event aimed first and foremost at film enthusiasts. The festival presents feature films, shorts, documentaries and family films, as well as panel discussions with leading film industry professionals. Taking place on Long Beach Island, NJ -- one of the East Coast's most popular surfing destinations -- the festival celebrates three days of new, exciting and challenging films in honor of Long Beach Island's historic Barnegat Lighthouse. The festival runs from 9am - midnight for four days, at four different venues.
We need between 80 - 100 volunteers to keep things running smoothly. The volunteers help in a number of ways both prior to and the days of the festival. They serve on the screening committee, distribute flyers, train other volunteers, pass out tickets, help with technology, drive filmmakers around, take surveys after each film, and greet filmmakers.
How did you get started as a volunteer leader?
Charlie Prince, the executive director, had the idea for this festival about five years ago. He wanted to give people a place to come and see independent award winning films in a beautiful setting. Eventually, it became a reality, and is now a major film festival in NJ. We just celebrated our 5th year. As managing director, I am in charge of running the entire festival, including volunteers. Everyone involved is committed to helping independent filmmakers' to share their films. Indie filmmakers struggle to tell their story, so we are committed to helping them get their message out to the world.
Why did you decide to use VolunteerSpot?
Trying to manage between 80 - 100 volunteers can be a daunting task. VolunteerSpot makes the task more manageable, while allowing us to keep track and update volunteer contact information quickly and easily. Through VolunteerSpot, it's easy to make changes to the schedule; thank people for helping, and send messages. Using VolunteerSpot is one tenth of the work vs. doing the old way, with emails and phone calls. We were hesitant to use an online system, but once we got started, it was so easy to use. One of our favorite features was being able to coordinate and communicate instantly during the event, and set up was so easy.
Do you have any advice for other volunteer leaders out there?
Don't be intimidated by the set up for VolunteerSpot. You don't have to be a computer wizard, anyone can do it! We love being able to thank volunteers, and record their contact info. It may seem daunting but it isn't. I can't say enough positive things about how much time it has saved me. It is has been difficult to find a volunteer director in the past, but now it will probably be easy with VolunteerSpot in our back pocket.
The feedback from volunteers was also very positive. They loved being able to see who else was working, and liked being able to change their shifts. VolunteerSpot made it easier for people who didn't know us to help. I just send the email with the link to the calendar, they click on the link, choose their spot. We like to call it impulse volunteering. I think that's why we had lots of new volunteers this year, it made all the difference in getting people to help. And, volunteers forwarded the link to others…and I didn't have to any additional recruiting.
The link to the volunteer calendar makes it an equal opportunity volunteer system. Even if you don't know anyone in the organization, you can still sign up.
Anything else you would like to share?
The Lighthouse Film Festival brings filmmakers, critics, and film enthusiasts together for a weekend of cutting edge films from around the world. It's become one of the major film festivals, and it’s a great weekend at the Jersey Shore. Films, fun, and sun! This year, the festival was the kick off event after hurricane Sandy. Long Beach Island was one of the worst hit areas in New Jersey, but we had a larger festival this year than ever. The community was so resilient…people still came out and helped even after the storm, which shows that their commitment to the arts is alive and well here on LBI. Many people were displaced after the storm but the festival still pulled off the biggest and best festival ever. The film fest embodies the spirit of LBI.
We salute Christine and all the other volunteer leaders out there making a difference. If you're using VolunteerSpot, write and tell us about what you're doing and give us a chance to shine our Volunteer Spotlight on you!! Just email us at VS@volunteerspot.com.