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The Music Festival Volunteer Process.

Andy Robertson

Some of the world's largest music festivals can use an army of volunteers to make their event a success sometimes using as many as 1,000 plus to help out in various ways. There is a lot more to being a volunteer than just doing a little bit of unpaid work in exchange for free entry to the event. 

It has become the norm for almost every festival to utilise the services of volunteers but the process for recruitment and training has developed into a much slicker and more professional aspect of what makes up the operation of a successful festival. 

Recruiting volunteers will usually start up to a year in advance of the event dates and most application forms are posted on the event website. As most events are oversubscribed for volunteers organisers can afford to pick and choose applicants and it is not unusual for the application form to ask about previous festival volunteering experience with a premium put on skills like first aid or familiarity with processing visitor entry scanning and payments. As a final differentiator many organisers now also ask for a personal statement to better understand the motivation for the volunteer's application. In addition, to attract serious applicants organisers often ask for a small refundable deposit.

Once selected volunteers will be expected to attend a series of training sessions covering everything from health and safety, first aid and entry processing to learning the artist line-up and site maps. As the event gets closer volunteers are likely to be allocated radios, branded polo shirts and high visibility jackets for example. They need to be easily identifiable by event goers as working for the

With such a large number of volunteers there will likely be several people responsible for managing them. Part of this management process will be the allocation of volunteer shifts which need to be communicated to all volunteers. Typical work tasks performed by volunteers may include: 

  • Litter duty and toilet cleaning - not the most glamorous of duties but an essential one nonetheless.
  • Gate entrance processing – scanning bar codes and QR codes or even taking cashless payments, they key to this is speed of processing.
  • Information kiosk and help centres – requires good site knowledge and a friendly disposition.
  • Marshalling and stewarding – from controlling crowds and providing clear directions to visitors or simply patrolling perimeter fencing their priority is safety and security.
  • Car park attendant – essential at key times during the start and end of the festival as volumes of traffic will normally outnumber resources available. 

It is the responsibility of the organiser’s permanent staff managing the volunteers to ensure that shifts are sensibly organised and that appropriate resources have been allocated. In addition, they are equally responsible for recruitment and training and conducting a post event review of the entire volunteer operation to learn from any mistakes made and improve the process for future years.

Using an events software management platform like FestivalPro music festival event organisers get all the functionality they need to manage music festival volunteers. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The FestivalPro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features for managing every aspect of volunteer management including customised application forms as well as dynamic shift calendars and a comprehensive database of all volunteers linked to contact details and allocated shifts and duties. 

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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