Case Study: Getting Grassroots Using Volunteer Management

Creative South started four years ago as a grassroots event, and is now one of the premier art and design events in the Southeast. Seeking to engage the creative community at all levels, Creative South offers a discounted registration rate--even free registration--to those aspiring artists and bootstrap creatives who are willing to volunteer during the conference. By matching interested registrants with volunteer roles, Creative South can attract young talent while keeping the price down for other registrants--that is, if the volunteers’ labor can be utilized efficiently.

For this past conference, Creative South hired Sandy Ellingson of the knIT Group to manage their event. Sandy knew she needed to to select a platform to manage the event, and chose CiviCRM because of the full suite of features and its user-friendliness. After deployment, Sandy used the Events module and a solid strategy to recruit and utilize volunteers for the Creative South event.

1. Event registration form doubled as a volunteer interest form
Registrants could check a box indicating they wanted to volunteer, allowing them to select “Pay Later” and complete the registration process. Sandy would then email them the link to a custom form to collect more information. If they volunteered for at least one full day, registration was free. If less, they were manually billed for the discounted registration rate.

2. Custom fields collected important information
The email that volunteers received, prompting them to give more information, included numerous custom fields, such as days available, general times available, desired position (displayed 60 positions, with links to descriptions), University or Employer (for tracking), and T-shirt size.

3. Created prefixes for role assignments
Creative South spread over 6 venues, and volunteers were needed at each one. Sandy created prefix codes to indicate the venue, and used the prefix when assigning a volunteer’s role name--so AU_usher meant the volunteer was assigned to the Auditorium. With these prefixes in place, Sandy could sort by role name to get a list of all volunteers assigned to a specific venue.

4. Assigned volunteers to supervisors
Having 60 volunteers and six venues, Sandy had to assign groups of volunteers to a supervisor. To accomplish this, Sandy created a relationship between the volunteer and the supervisor in the Contact record. Then, they created a special report on this relationship to list all volunteers for a supervisor.

The fourth Creative South was a big hit. CiviCRM’s volunteer management capabilities gave Sandy the tools needed to successfully utilize almost 60 volunteers to perform much of the labor at the conference. As a bonus, Creative South now has the ability to stay in touch with attendees via email, helping drive future attendance.

Read the full case study on Civicrm.