That most difficult part about managing volunteers is staying organized with the abundant amount of details. Below you will find information, tips, suggestions, and key resources on how to manage volunteers for an Ira A. Fulton Schools of engineering event – no matter how small or big!
If you would like to learn more about managing volunteers or get a more formal training please reach out to Elizabeth Cross, the engineering dean’s office Volunteer Manager.
An outlined, detailed and organized action plan as we like to call will make this process much easier. Download our suggested action plan here and plug in your event details for a smooth planning process.
Volunteer Position Descriptions
Position descriptions are important for various reasons – but mostly it gives the volunteer insight on what they would be doing, if they would be a good fit and how they will benefit from the position.
You need the support at your event, but the volunteer also needs their experience to be valuable to them in some measurable way. This can be through skills developed, possible networking or an educational component – both you and the volunteer need to benefit.
The position description should not be longer than a page and should be precise with no fluff – bullet points and numbering are perfectly fine to use. You don’t want to throw every detail on this page, it’s more so an introduction to the position – just like a paid job description. Closer to the event is when you send a volunteer agenda with the breakdown of all the details.
Every position description should include the below categories. See example here
• Length of Appointment
• Time Commitment
• Responsible to
• Position Title
• Purpose of Position
• Key Responsibilities
• Position Support
• Skills Developed through position
• Dress Code
• The Event Program
Setting up a volunteer registration can be easier than you think. In the past, we have used a simple google form or Eventbrite. We now currently use an online platform called Signup that is user friendly to both you and your volunteers. If you are interested in using this platform, reach out to Elizabeth Cross for further information and training on the program.
We strongly suggest asking these questions in your registration form regardless of which platform you choose:
- What is your classification? (Ex: student, staff, alumni, donor, other)
- What is your department/school association? (Ex: SEMTE, Poly, EDO, ETS, CIDSE, alumni, outside ASU, etc.)
- Are you part of a Fulton engineering student org? Please type your organization.
- What is your ASU mail code, if applicable?
- Do you have any dietary restrictions? (Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free)
Now that you have your position descriptions and you’ve launched your registration it’s time to recruit. We suggest using these methods to get attention towards your event and drum up volunteers.
- In the loop
- Inner Circle
- Full Circle
- Fulton Student Organization Newsletter
- Word of mouth
- Past Volunteers (as you start managing volunteers, you should create a master last/database of all volunteers ever participated in any of your events. This way you can email them with upcoming opportunities.)
- Fulton Staff Distribution Lists
- List opportunites on Engineering volunteer site or on shirts that you give your volunteers
- Ideas for Resources to recruit Poly Volunteers
It is important that you establish a strong check-in and out process. When managing volunteers it is important that you know where they are at all times and is why we ask them to check out in case of an emergency. Make sure you designate a clear open area to hold check-in and check-out.
If you are hosting a major event that is spread out consider having area leads. These positions could be open to anyone, or depending on the level of responsibility you could personally recruit for the specific areas. These positions act as your assistants and rather than 20 volunteers coming to you for one area, you have one coming to you as the spokesperson for the 20.
Any volunteer working 3 hours or more, should be fed a proper meal – and no that doesn’t mean a steak dinner — more along the lines of a sandwich, salad or some combination. Even pizza is fine – just something more than a bag of chips. If you are having full catering at your event, it is easier to just feed that to the volunteers working 3+ hours, but of course, they eat when their shift ends, not during, and out of sight from the event.
Typically it’s best to use wristbands in this scenario. Stuff a wristband in the eligible volunteers name badge. This way they pick them up at the same time and its less work on you day of. If they have a wristband, that grants them food, if they do not have a wristband, they don’t get food. Simple as that.
You should allocate an area at your event to be treated as volunteer hospitality – away from volunteer check-in/out. This is where volunteers can eat, take a break, fix something, or anything else they need to do away from the attendees. This can also act as your storage area of excess supplies and if someone should get hurt, your rest area.
Make sure you clearly identify what is appropriate to wear as a volunteer at the event. It’s best to have them wear matching shirts to easily identify them. If that is out of your budget, try to stick to an ASU theme or our Fulton polo’s that many of the staff members have as well as student organizations.
Keep in mind your volunteers need to transport themselves to your event. If the event is on campus, during the work day, many of your volunteers will simply walk over. If it is after hours or on a weekend, keep in mind you will have to find transportation options for them; or at least inform them of their options. The following options could be put into place depending on the number of volunteers you have working:
- Reserve spots ahead of time in an ASU Parking structure (we recommend validating their spots as a volunteer should never have to pay to help you at your event)
- Suggest the light rail and/or other transportation
- Suggest carpooling
Depending on the size of your event, radios may be needed for your key volunteers. Never have more than 15 people on a radio as successful communication becomes almost impossible when you have more than 15. See vendor list for providers you an ordered radio’s through.
It is important you email your volunteers an agenda within a week prior to the event (typically typed in word documents and emailed to volunteers as a PDF). The volunteer agenda should include the following breakdown of information: See example here
- Area Leads (if applicable)
- Volunteer Hospitality Location
- Deans Funding Points
- Radios (if applicable)
- Volunteer Cord. Contact Information
- Event schedule (if applicable)
- Event map (if applicable)
In order to have a smooth check-in and check-out process of volunteers for the event, it is suggested to have the following supplies. You may think some of these things don’t belong on this list, but in my experiences there has been a time when I have used everything below at least once. Its better to be over prepared than under prepared.
- Master Volunteer Binder including the following documents:
- All formal job descriptions
- Agendas sent
- History of all major communications with volunteers
- List of all volunteers by name; by area; by job
- Food contracts and eligible volunteers for food list
- Anything else that applies
- Volunteer Emergency Kit Suggested organizer here
- Colored pencils
- Packing tape
- Desk tape
- Rubber bands
- Paper clips
- Staple remover
- Door stops
- Small notepads
- Mini first aid kit
- Hand sanitizer
- Sunscreen lotion
- Few sheets of card stock/colored paper
- Eye Drops
- Tide Pen
- Hand Wipes
- Sign In Sheets
- Deans Funding
- Walk-Up volunteers
- Regular sign in sheet for registered volunteers
- Required ASU Volunteer Waivers and a few clipboards dedicated to the waivers
- Printed name badges for each volunteer with lanyard
- Wristbands for each volunteer that is eligible for food
- Extra wristbands
- 50 extra blank name badges and lanyards for walk up volunteers
- T-shirts (if applicable)
- Water (if applicable)
- Snacks (if applicable)
- Rocks or paper weights in case your event is outside and is windy
- 4 banquet tables to setup volunteer check-in and linen depending how formal you want it
- Lysol wipes
- paper towels
- Ziploc bags
Deans Funding Points
If you have students volunteering at your event, you must take into consideration which students might be deans funding points eligible. This is important to ask during initial registration which Fulton student organization they are a part of.
Furthermore, you must have a second check-in and check-out process for them to sign in on behalf of their organization. In order to confirm their participation, they MUST sign IN and OUT. Once your event is completed, you will then send this sign in list to Cortney Loui in Academic and Student Affairs. We recommend you keep a copy of this list for your records in case there are any issues down the road.
ASU Volunteer Registration Form
ASU requires all volunteers to sign a volunteer registration form before stepping into their position. We strongly recommend adding this to your volunteer registration electronically to make it easier on both you and the volunteer. Having it electronically will eliminate having it at check-in. If that is not an option, you must have each volunteer physically fill out a waiver AT check-in before they start their job. 50 volunteers = 50 waivers.
If you would like more information on this form, or learn some tips on how to handle these forms easier, please reach out to Elizabeth Cross for guidance.