You are here:

4 Tips to Train Your Volunteers for Your Upcoming Gala

Posted Dec 05, 2023 04:35 PM
Running a fundraising gala is no easy task. Between marketing your event, getting your technology in place, and setting up your event space, you’ve got your plate full. Luckily, you don’t have to plan and lead your gala alone!

With the support of a dedicated group of volunteers, you can reduce your team’s administrative burden and pull off an unforgettable event experience with ease.

Volunteers can help you with every step of planning your fundraising gala, from organizing your livestream for viewers at home to sending handwritten thank-you notes to your major donors after the event concludes. Volunteering is also a great way to deepen your supporters’ connection with your cause, allowing you to foster strong relationships that will reap benefits for years to come.

Before your volunteers can jump into event planning, however, you’ll need to provide them with plenty of training so they can step into their roles with confidence. Use these tips to get your volunteers in tip-top shape to bring your fundraising gala to life:

  • Host an orientation session
  • Create a resource library
  • Review technical logistics
  • Set up a mentorship program

A well-rounded volunteer team can give your nonprofit the support it needs to reach its fundraising goals and take its events to the next level. Let’s begin.

Host an orientation session

Once you’ve recruited a team of dedicated volunteers who are eager to help plan your fundraising gala, you’ll need to properly orient them to your nonprofit.

Here are our recommendations for hosting an effective orientation session:

  • Offer flexible meeting options: Offer 2-3 options to meet in person for your orientation session on different days of the week and at different times to accommodate your volunteers’ varying schedules. Or, you could host one in-person orientation session and record it for the volunteers who couldn’t make it.
  • Review your mission and core values: Use this opportunity to go over your nonprofit’s founding and core values for anyone new to your cause or unfamiliar with your mission. These principles will help ensure volunteers properly represent your nonprofit once they start their roles.
  • Go over volunteer expectations: Go over the weekly time commitment for preparing for your gala, as well as the time commitment on the day of your event. Be sure to cover sign-in and out procedures, dress codes, communication best practices, and other relevant policies.
  • Learn about your volunteers: To maximize your volunteers’ contributions and guarantee their success, you’ll want to tap into their strengths. Get to know your volunteers by learning more about their interests and skills. You likely already collected some of these insights during the application process, but it can be a good idea to ask your volunteers again about their strengths now that they’re more familiar with the different roles they can play. Consider sharing a survey at the end of your orientation session that volunteers can fill out with information about their skills.

Be sure to open the floor to questions at the end of your meeting so you can clear up any lingering questions and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Create a resource library

A resource library is a dedicated digital hub where volunteers can learn more about their specific roles and best practices to support your nonprofit. Consider creating an exclusive hub on your website where volunteers can log in and access resources.

These might include:

  • Your volunteer handbook with role expectations.
  • Digital sign-up sheets for shifts.
  • Online training videos that are specific to different volunteer roles.
  • Contact lists of supervising volunteers to refer to with questions.
  • Discussion forums so volunteers can collaborate on projects and tasks remotely.

Share the link to your resource library at the end of your orientation session so volunteers know about it and can easily access it at any time. You can also email them with the link afterward.

Review technical logistics

Your fundraising gala will likely require a lot of technical planning and equipment, from getting stereos and a microphone for your emcee to setting up a livestream if you’re hosting a hybrid event. And, if your nonprofit is hosting an auction as part of your gala, you’ll need mobile bidding and fundraising software to streamline the process.

Your volunteers can play a big part in managing the technical side of your event and ensuring everything runs smoothly. Ask volunteers with technical experience to lend a hand and make sure to train them in using your specific equipment and software.

You might also ask your volunteers to fundraise in advance of your event. Show your volunteers how to set up peer-to-peer fundraising pages so they can lead their campaigns with ease and help you raise more revenue for your cause. Raising money ahead of time can build positive momentum for your gala and demonstrate to attendees that your organization is worth donating to because others have already.

To get the ball rolling on your campaigns, the OneCause guide to peer-to-peer fundraising best practices recommends tapping volunteers with wide networks to serve as ambassadors for your cause. Encourage your ambassadors to share their peer-to-peer pages among their personal networks, such as by sharing the links on social media, to help expand your organization’s reach and bring in significant funds before your event even begins.

Set up a mentorship program

A mentorship program can help your new volunteers connect with veteran volunteers, get their questions answered, and feel a sense of community and belonging, therefore enhancing their overall volunteer experience.

To set up your mentorship program, leverage these tips:

  • Survey veteran volunteers in advance: Ask your existing volunteers if they would be interested in participating as mentors so you can assemble a sizable crowd. If you don’t have enough mentors to match at a 1:1 ratio, consider pairing multiple new volunteers with one mentor.
  • Provide a check-in structure: Encourage your mentors to check in with their mentees on a weekly basis to see if they have any questions or need support in their roles.
  • Thank your mentors: Your mentors are taking on an extra role to support your nonprofit, so it’s important to express heartfelt gratitude. eCardWidget’s guide to volunteer appreciation recommends writing your mentors a handwritten thank-you note or shouting them out on social media for their efforts. This will help you develop strong relationships and retain your volunteers’ support for future campaigns and events.
  • Ask for feedback: Be sure to check in with your mentors and mentees and gather feedback on what they like about the program and where there’s room for improvement. Then, apply these insights to the next round of your mentoring and share updated guidance with your entire volunteer team.

Your mentor-mentee relationships don’t have to end when your gala concludes! Consider running a mentorship program throughout the year to create a strong sense of community across your entire volunteer base. This can go a long way in making new volunteers always feel welcome and supported.

By putting these support systems in place and actively preparing your volunteers to take on their roles, you’ll be able to maximize your fundraising gala’s success!