Ah, the dream team for auctions! The heart, the backbone of every benefit auction is the volunteer. The makeup is almost entirely volunteers and there are really two categories of volunteers. There are the day of auction volunteers; the folks that pretty much help out on the night of the event or help setting up, running the event, help with clean up and then there are the volunteers who are actually organizing and conducting the event.
People ask me, “How do I find great volunteers?” My answer might surprise you. You have got to ask. So, how do you ask for someone to participate as a volunteer? I think there are a couple considerations. One, make sure you match the volunteers to the specific jobs. How do you match volunteers to the right job? Written job descriptions. It is important to talk to your volunteers because what they may do in their day job they may not want to do at the auction. They may want to have something very separate so it is really important to find out what their needs are and their motivation to serving your organization. So, it is critical to ask not only for their participation but also how they want to be engaged as a volunteer.
Where would you find volunteers? First of all ask the current volunteers to invite their friends, their colleagues, their supporters. It is much like in the business world, it is kind of a referral system for groups that exist to supply volunteers in the community. For example, your local United Way, RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), and now there are meet-up groups and social media where you can spread the word about your need for volunteers for your auction or other activities that you have in your nonprofit. Now, my best tip I am going to leave you with to find volunteers is your local service groups and that is for two reasons. Let’s look at who they are. That could be the Rotary, the Kiwanis, the Lions Club, perhaps one of the church groups that you have or your faith based groups in your community. Why is this my favorite way to find volunteers? Because you get a group of people. So instead of getting 10 to 15 to 30 people who don’t know each other who have no connection, you could go to your local service group or you could go to a local real estate company or to a bank or to an organization/corporation in your town and say, “Would you consider sending a team of people to our auction” and assigning them a specific role. Now the reason I love that idea is because they are there to work. There is no confusion for them being at the party and being a party-goer or an event-goer. They are there to really support you and it is what they do. They love to support community organizations.
A couple final words on volunteers. You have got to feed them, recognize them, and thank them. What are you doing to attract volunteers? Just ask and engage them deeply in your organization for long-term support.