Recruiting volunteers for events

This page is about the importance of volunteers to the success of events, how to recruit volunteers and how to run a successful volunteer programme.

The importance of volunteers

Motivated, friendly, enthusiastic and well-trained volunteers are crucial to successful event delivery and an important part of your event team. They are generally the ‘ambassadors’ of an event — creating the first and most lasting impression on teams, officials, VIPs and the public.

Developing a comprehensive volunteer programme will help ensure an event meets world class standards and provides participants with lasting memories of the event, the community experience and New Zealand.

People volunteer for many reasons, and it's important to acknowledge that they're giving up their time for your organisation and their community.

Volunteer recruitment strategy

When you plan your recruitment strategy, remember that volunteers have many different reasons for volunteering. By identifying this you will also identify different ways to recruit volunteers.

Key messages for volunteers include:

  • the opportunity to make a contribution to their community
  • an insider’s view of being part of an event
  • gaining useful job experience and satisfaction
  • helping out
  • meeting likeminded people
  • identifying possibilities for personal skills development
  • strengthening their CV and presenting a community committed approach for future employers.

Maximising your volunteer recruitment

There are many ways of linking your event with volunteer recruitment strategies:

  • Try to time the volunteer recruitment campaign with another special announcement such as a launch or official draw.
  • Launch your call for volunteers on VolunteerNet(external link), emphasising the benefits of volunteering at your event. When you register with VolunteerNet, your event can also be promoted on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Develop your social media strategy in harmony with your website.
  • Look to secure 'value in kind' rate card airtime with your media partners to help promote volunteer recruitment.
  • Work with the:
    • host city or cities to use their contacts and other marketing media
    • national and regional sports bodies/arts groups/cultural organisations that are specific to your event.
  • Consider a direct marketing and tele-sales campaign to affiliated members, providing various incentives.
  • Seek to have a presence on your partners, sponsors or relevant government agencies’ websites to help promote your call for volunteers, eg SportNZ for sport and Creative NZ for arts.
  • Work with tertiary institutions to identify courses that may be relevant, eg a media studies department may provide volunteers in the media centres.
  • Promote volunteer open days and invite dignitaries and celebrities to attend.
  • Consider whether an Observers Programme will benefit your event.

Planning your volunteer programme

To have an effective volunteering programme you need to plan ahead! Use the Managing Volunteers Checklist to help you.

Managing Volunteers Checklist [PDF, 526 KB]

Also remember to:

  • Select quality volunteers. Attitude is the key to great service, and quantity is NOT better than quality. Select volunteers who have the right skills and enthusiasm.
  • Don't underestimate your volunteer expenses when setting your event budget. Volunteers are not free labour, and you need to plan for the appropriate expenses.
  • Regularly monitor your volunteer programme so that you're in a position to respond to the shifting workloads — both leading up to and during the event.

By adopting best practice volunteer management principles, and empowering volunteers with a good understanding of your organisation, you'll provide awesome volunteering opportunities to inspire volunteers to come back to your event each year or to become involved in your organisation on an ongoing basis.


If you're not already registered on VolunteerNet, contact VolunteerNet now via email.