Volunteer Motivation Techniques At Events

Volunteer Motivation Techniques At Events

Many event organizers prefer to employ volunteers just to close the gap between the labor force at hand and the labor force required at an event . But do we know how to motivate them and continue to retain high volunteer rates in our up coming events?

Volunteer motivation is the essence of having high rate of volunteers and volunteer performance. Volunteer motivation is about creating a volunteer experience that allows an individual to meet their motivations in ways that are both satisfying to the individual volunteer, and productive and meaningful for the organization. Well-motivated volunteers are not only more likely to continue volunteering, but they are likely to do so at a higher performance level. Each volunteer has different expectations and goals, and by recognizing the motivations of each volunteer, you can ensure that the volunteer is satisfied by their experience.

What motivates people to volunteer?

When we analyze volunteer behaviors, we clearly see that, volunteers' motivations for dedicating their time vary, and fall into two main categories: ideological, ethical and moral reasons or personal reasons.

Ideological, ethical and moral reasons:

  • Work for positive social change,
  • Share their skills, abilities and knowledge to contribute to a social cause,
  • Give something back to society, rather than only receive,

Personal reasons:

  • Get gratification and satisfaction from helping others,
  • Learn and acquire work experience and new skills,
  • Add something new to their CV,
  • Learn and/or improve their foreign language,
  • Have an opportunity to interact with a different culture,
  • Have an alternative experience to standard trips,
  • Make new friends, as well as personal and professional networks.

It is important that your organization plan has several strategies to motivate volunteers, as volunteer motivation is connected with the planning of an effective volunteer program, and is linked with good supervision and support. Usually following strategies has been suggested for motivating volunteers:

Strategies for motivating volunteers:

  • Give praise and positive feedback for completed tasks or a job well done,
  • Vary duties where possible and appropriate,
  • Respond to requests for help or assistance as quickly as possible,
  • Resolve problems swiftly and efficiently in a proactive manner,
  • Ensure volunteers are not overloaded or take on too much,
  • Support and supervise all volunteers,
  • Involve volunteers in staff meetings and events and add them to staff mailing lists,
  • Include volunteers in the planning process for projects and program associated with their role,
  • Demonstrate how their role has impacted your organization,
  • Provide opportunities to learn more about the organization through work shadowing, attendance at meetings, conferences, training etc.

Volunteer Recognition

Volunteer recognition is closely related to volunteer motivation. That is to say, thanks and acknowledgement of volunteers' work, whether through informal or formal means, can play an important role in helping your volunteers stay motivated.

Informal Recognition:

The most effective volunteer recognition occurs through daily interactions, when team members of an organization express sincere appreciation and thanks for the volunteer's work. Informal recognition practices include:

  • Saying a sincere "thank you",
  • Giving volunteers positive feedback – telling them when they have done a good job,
  • Writing short thank you notes for the volunteers,
  • Involving volunteers in decisions that affect them,
  • Asking about the volunteers' families and show an interest in their "outside" life,
  • Making sure that volunteers receive the same respect and treatment given to team members,
  • Allowing volunteers to increase their skills by attending training.
  • Recommending the volunteer for promotion to a position with more responsibility.

Formal Recognition:

Formal recognition strategies offer can provide special recognition for volunteers and can also serve as an incentive for strong volunteer performance. Some examples include:

  • A volunteer 'identity – Give volunteers an official role title,
  • Uniforms – Give volunteers T-shirts, name badges, or another formal symbol of their role,
  • Service gifts or certificates – Recognize longer-term volunteers' efforts by awarding small gifts that commemorate longevity. This can be done informally or at an official event,
  • Publicize volunteer efforts – Ask a local newspaper or magazine to feature an article about one of your volunteers who has an interesting background, reason for volunteering, or other newsworthy characteristics,
  • Promote volunteers' work in your communications – Include information about the importance and extent of your volunteers' work in newsletters, annual reports, or other communications made by your organization.
  • 'Volunteer of the Month' – Highlight a volunteer whose performance has exceeded through a ceremony, a thank you card, or through communications, as discussed above,
  • Social events – Celebrate the volunteers' work through events to show your appreciation. These events can include anything from going out for a drink, having lunch, holding a themed event, or going to a film.

Although formal recognition may bring more attention to volunteers' work, informal recognition is can be done on a day-to-day basis to convey a constant sense of appreciation and belonging to the volunteer. This can be more effectively conveyed by the thousands of small interactions that compose daily life than by an annual event.


Volunteers can accomplish many things if we can motivate them properly and adequately. Actually, they are self-motivated already. If not, they wouldn't be so willing to attend your event as a volunteer. So, what you need to do is just to keep this fire alive. I am sure you would be surprised when you saw what they've done for you and your event. As a conclusion, volunteers are just waiting to be noticed and expecting a few good words. That's it!..