You’ve been planning a major event for your organization for the past year, and as the event date is nearing, you’re getting nervous about executing everything from item procurement to checkout utilizing just yourself and the other planning committee members. You begin to realize that because of the size of your event and the number of tasks you will need done, you’ll need to bring on event staff or volunteers to help make the event a success. How do you go about finding and training the right people, and how do you ensure that everything is set up in a way that makes it easiest for the staff? What is the best way to go about managing the staff before, at, and after the event?
Gesture Account Managers receive questions like these each and every day. Below, we’ve compiled some information and tips from our Account Managers on how to best staff different components of your event so that you can worry about the big picture:
Before your Event:
Many event chairs will utilize their volunteer network to create committees before the event to manage aspects related to finding sponsorships, increasing event attendance, and procuring auction items.
Event sponsors are a great way to offset the costs of hosting an event. You can ask sponsors to help with your event technology, consignment travel items, and much more. It’s important to recognize your event sponsors somewhere at the event, either in the program, on signage, or during the spoken remarks.
Traits that will help volunteers gather sponsorships: professionalism, effective communication, outgoing personality
What better way to increase event attendance than by encouraging volunteers and board members to share about the event on social media and invite their friends? You can either require that each volunteer receive a set number of committed attendees, or you can create a competition to challenge the volunteers to see who can bring the most people!
Traits that will help volunteers increase event attendance: social media savvy, approachable, driven
Auction Item Procurement:
It’s impossible to have an auction without items! Auction item acquisition is one of the hardest aspects of planning an event, so designating a volunteer committee to take care of this is a great way to focus on the big picture.
Traits that will help volunteers acquire items: organization, creativity, cordial
Event Set up:
While the committees above will start planning months in advance, the event set up committee will only need to be available in the days before the event. This would be a great role for someone who can’t dedicate a lot of time to volunteering, but still wants to be involved.
Skills/traits that will aid someone with event set up: can-do attitude, teamwork, problem solving
During your Event:
You’ve been planning the event behind the scenes for months, but there’s still so much to be done on the night of your event. You’ll need several volunteers or staff to aid with check in, the auctions and raffles, instant buy merchandise, and checkout.
Check in can range in complexity from saying “welcome” to guests and showing them to the event space, to collecting credit card information and giving donors pre-assigned table and bidder numbers. You can either use volunteers to aid with event check in or use a company like Gesture that provides trained staff members to help with the more complex aspects of check in, like collecting pertinent information and ensuring that donors are in the system.
Silent and Live Auctions:
Both auctions require volunteers or staff to help donors bid, keep a watchful eye on the items, and answer any questions that may come up. Using a company like Gesture will allow you to place your volunteers in other roles and the Gesture Pros will handle the aspects of bidding.
Offering raffle or instant-buy items at your event? One of the best ways to execute a raffle is to have volunteers walking around the event space with tickets. You can even tie a balloon to the raffle basket so they are always visible from anywhere in the room! For instant-buy items offered at a fixed price, like merchandise or commemorative gear, staff a table with volunteers and minimize the risk of having cash on hand is by using a company like Gesture where guests can purchase the merchandise using their phones.
Checkout is most efficient when you use a combination of staff members and volunteers. Gesture works with your volunteers seamlessly to shorten lines and increase donor happiness. After the auction closes, donors will be sent a link to pay on their phone and then they can pick up their items with the volunteers. Donors can also checkout with a Gesture staff member and then receive their items. Gesture is able to process all of the payments before the event is over, leaving you to not worry about receiving all of the funds you raised!
After your Event:
After all is said and done and the donors have left the dance floor, you’ll need a group of volunteers or staff members to help with cleaning up and breaking down the event. They will need to pack up any unclaimed auction items, take down event decor, and clean the space. Often, events run late into the night. Treat your clean up crew to some late night pizza to show your appreciation for their dedication!
Example: PAWS Chicago Beach Party
Gesture worked with PAWS Chicago and their 100 volunteers to seamlessly execute an event for 500 attendees. Here is a breakdown of how PAWS Chicago utilized some of their volunteers and Gesture staff members:
Gesture provided 10 Pros for the event, and the Pros were able to move between different tasks to make the most out of the number of people available. For example, two of the four people that helped with the live auction also helped with the fund the need. PAWS Chicago also made great use of their volunteers by using some of the auction item acquisition committee members as volunteers for the silent auction table.
Image Credit: PAWS Chicago
Each event is different, and that’s why our Gesture Account Managers are experts in making the most out of the staff and volunteers you have available. If you’re looking for staffing solutions for your auction or more information about what Gesture does, get in touch with us here.