Charity event chairs (great tongue twister!) love to have as much help as they can get when planning and executing events.

Whether planning for a large gala this fall or a golf scramble this summer, utilizing volunteers will help your event thrive and benefit your nonprofit organization in plenty of other ways.

Volunteers already have a passion for your mission, and they are willing to work for you – for free! Take them up on their willingness and assign them a task or two. There are several roles available for volunteers, depending on their time and availability.

Following are six of the most important duties your volunteers can perform before, during, and after your next nonprofit fundraising event:

1. Auction Item Procurement

A successful silent or live auction relies on unique and exciting items secured on behalf of your cause. This is an excellent activity for your volunteer corps. At least three months in advance of your event, arm them with a wish list and the proper forms (click here for help on the forms you will need for your auction).

Make it interesting by adding a reward challenge for the most donated items or the most expensive item. Everyone likes an incentive!


2. Event Check-In

From greeting your guests to handling money, this is a first impression opportunity that requires top notch volunteers. So you want your most seasoned, trained volunteers working the check-in table. Spend some extra time planning for the check-in and registration process.

3. Silent Auction

There are typically many items in a silent auction, so volunteers should be present to keep a watchful eye on the tables. Ask your team to ensure the tables stay neat and organized as well as answer questions that guests might have about items. Volunteers will also be of great help in closing out the auction and distributing the items to winning bidders.

4. Live Auction

Helping the auctioneer to stay informed during the live auction will keep things running smoothly. Some auctioneers will provide their own assistants (ringmen), or you may choose a couple volunteers to assist with this fast-paced event.

For example, if you are incorporating a Winspire travel package, the auctioneer needs to know the reserve bid amount so that he can work that into the audience participation. He may have questions about the destination too.

Volunteers should be positioned throughout the audience to help the auctioneer see and hear the bids, which is called spotting. They also personally go to the winning bidders to get their money, signatures and so forth.

Bottom line: They help capture all the money in the room! There is great potential here, so stage your best volunteers to help with this important aspect of your event.

5. Event Clean-Up

There is often so much effort into executing an event that closing it down seems less important, but don’t overlook this aspect of planning. Recruit volunteers whose only job is to show up at the end of your event and pitch in on clean up. This may be especially attractive to high schools and sports teams needing service hours.

6. Event Follow Up

Timely thank you notes are essential keep your donors and guests engaged with your nonprofit organization. Solicit volunteer help in writing thank you notes or addressing envelopes.

Set this up in advance so that everyone knows to come to your office on a specific day during the week following your event. Knock out this vital task quickly and efficiently with their help.

Download the full list of 17 volunteer roles

These are just a few of the most common volunteer committees at charity events. Depending on the scope and nature of your event, there are many more roles for volunteers to create a great event.

To help, we’ve put together a printable, shareable PDF with 17 important volunteer roles plus job descriptions for each. Click below to request your instant copy:

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Finally, a couple notes on retaining and thanking your volunteers.

Volunteer-small-event-1Smaller Events

Volunteers are critical at smaller events. Many people enjoy serving food or working in the kitchen to help you pull off a dinner or cocktail reception. Your volunteers may help with the whole process – from planning, executing, clean up, and thank you notes.

You may be surprised that each year the same volunteers look forward to coming back to work at that same event. They often enjoy the camaraderie as much as helping your organization.

Volunteer-recognizeRecognize Volunteers

Don’t forget the importance of recognition! These people are donating their time and energy to help you succeed, so make sure you take steps to recognize them for their contribution. Designating the group as the “Event Committee” might also be a good idea.

Some Ideas to Treat your volunteers like the rock stars they are:
  • Have a food table in a private room for them to sit and relax during a break.
  • Offer a t-shirt, button, hat or other clothing to wear to help set them apart during the event.
  • Keep them informed during the planning phase as well as during the event itself.
  • If there are any changes to your event’s structure, let them know.
  • Assign an employee to oversee the volunteer corps. This smart move gives volunteers the security to know who to go to for anything and at any point.

Your volunteers are ambassadors for your nonprofit organization. It is just as important that they have a quality experience with the event as it is for the attending guests. You want them to positively share that with everyone they know. Send them a handwritten, personal thank you note and let them know how much they mean to you.