- Give yourself plenty of time to plan. Eleven weeks of planning for a large community-wide event with multiple partners is a realistic time-line.
- Gather a team. Who can help with publicity and planning? Who can help organize and recruit a large number of volunteers? Who best knows the community and its needs? Who has a high level of energy, enthusiasm, and really cares about the community? These are the people you want to help you to plan a volunteer event.
- Bring in community partners. Community partners should be a part of the project selection process so they can help to create a sense of community ownership of the project. The more community partners that you involve, the more the community will feel ownership of the project, and the more meaningful the project will be for the community. Group partnerships allow you to reach a larger audience, too.
- Get off to a good start. Make sure your project team has tasks and responsibilities right away. Make certain that the tasks have set deadlines and that the tasks are distributed evenly among the team.
- Think about the size of your project. While you might want a small army of volunteers to create massive change in a community, it might be better to have a small, high quality service project that gets a lot done and is fun for the volunteers rather than a loosely run large-scale project
- Select a meaningful project. A volunteer project ought to have a tangible benefit to the community. Members of the community should see the work as important to how the community functions. The volunteers should learn something at the project, too. Something about the task, the community, or the people that they’re working with.
- Have a contingency plan. It’s important to remember that things might not go as planned on your project day. If you choose a project that’s easily scalable, then you can adjust if too few or too many volunteers show up. Planning a project with tasks for multiple skill levels allows all of the volunteers to do tasks that they’re comfortable with.
- Recruiting Volunteers. There is no sure-fire, guaranteed message that will make someone say yes when you ask them to volunteer, but a well crafted recruitment message helps turn a “why should I care” or a “maybe” into a “sign me up!” Recruit more volunteers than you think you’ll need in case some don’t show up.
- Volunteer Briefing and Debrief. Make sure your volunteers are introduced to the work that they’ll be doing and the impact their work will have on the community. Don’t just tell them what to do and leave it at that. If your volunteers realize that they’re having an impact, they’ll be more likely to come to your next project. Be sure reinforce what kind of impact their work has on the community, both on their day of service and into the future!
What tips do you have for people planning a one day event? Are you planning an event for MLKDay? Have you downloaded our Volunteer Leader Toolbox?