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The Festival Volunteer Application and Management Process.

Andy Robertson

Any large-scale festival relies on the work from unpaid volunteers to make their event happen. Without an army of volunteers festivals would not take place but with so much demand for volunteers every year what can organisers do to perfect their application process to ensure that the right number are recruited and appropriately managed. 


Some festival organisers use the numerous third-party suppliers to recruit their volunteers each year often linked to charitable organisations. However, the larger more established festival organisations usually prefer to run the whole process themselves for better control. What are the key steps involved in getting and managing sufficient volunteers in a timely manner.

Application Forms. 
Most festivals recruit their volunteers via their event website, some are very simple sign-up forms while others can be more complex. One of the critical factors to emphasise when collecting any personal date is compliance of GDPR or other data and privacy laws that apply in that jurisdiction and this needs to be communicated to anyone submitting their personal information. Having a volunteer agreement signed by the volunteer applicant helps to specify all the obligations and rules each volunteer must adhere to and can include: 

  • Locations of festival sites.
  • Hours and shifts expected.
  • Duties likely to be performed.
  • Immigration and the right to work in the country.
  • Deposit conditions.
  • Disciplinary procedures and conduct expectations.                   

Back-office Admin. 
If a festival requires 800 volunteers they may aim to recruit 900 as it is not unusual for a certain number to drop out. Some festivals rely on spreadsheets to manage their volunteers but this is can be extremely time consuming and prone to errors. There are dedicated volunteer management software applications than can do the job much more efficiently. A good software application can log volunteer details and allocate training schedules and shifts. They can also provide the ability for notifications and regular contact via email or messaging to maintain good two-way communications.

Management and Training.
Having an individual responsible for volunteer recruitment and management is essential for any festival organiser. The responsible person needs to manage the work requirements and match them to volunteer’s duties and shift allocation along with maintaining regular communication throughout the entire process. An experienced training manager is also required to ensure that all volunteers attend necessary training days to receive appropriate training. The volunteer managers also need to create and manage any documentation relating to specified processes and procedures and monitor volunteer activity on-site. A clear escalation procedure needs to be communicated to all volunteers to ensure they have a clear communication path to follow should they have concerns or questions during an event.

The entire volunteer recruitment and training process is now more complex than it has ever been, partly to ensure the organisers and volunteers comply with any relevant legislation and to protect both parties.

For music festival organisers planning their future events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics including the entire volunteer management process. 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 Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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