3 Secrets of successful volunteer programmes

Jane Webber
Jun 8, 2016

Currently our Sales Manager, Jane Webber is Head of Volunteers at Wallingford Festival of Cycling


Jane is looking to recruit, schedule, train and manage over 200 volunteers (Race Makers) at this event.  This is the 2nd year she has held this position, so she is sharing 3 secrets of running a successful volunteer program

“Organizing any event, however big or small, can be complex and consequently stressful. There are a huge number of factors to consider – from knowing who, where and when, to allocating specialist teams with specific skill sets.  Currently I am looking for people who will be Race Marshalls, so they need to be quick to react when cyclists are coming through on the road to alert people.

People usually volunteer for two reasons; either they are committed to helping a cause or they will give their free time to be part of something significant and fun.  Regardless of why they are volunteering you need to be sensitive to what has motivated them to give up their time.

I am lucky to see successful volunteer programs from both sides – Get Scheduled’s customers such as Team London, Ryder Cup to name just 2 and being part of a volunteer programme as a Games Maker at London 2012 and my time at Cancer Research UK. 

These experiences and feedback from our customers show us that if you prioritise on the following points you will be more likely to have a successful volunteer programme and event


Schedule intelligently

The starting point for this is to work out who you really need, where and when, i.e. effective employee scheduling.  People are happy to commit their time if they think it is being well used so don’t exploit them by expecting too much of them.  I am asking some of my Race Makers to work all day, but they will be given a lunch break, with a free lunch bag and a quiet place to sit down.

Make sure they know what their role is in advance and what they need to do on the day.   Nothing is worse if they show up with good intentions and high hopes only to find they have no worthwhile function on the project.

Communicate and inform quickly

 Whilst no one is ever pleased when things go wrong,  they are much more forgiving if they are told promptly and kept up to date with accurate information. The onus is on you as an organizer to make sure what you are saying is correct and disseminated quickly.   With my Race Makers as soon as they sign up, they get a “Thank you” email and confirmation that I will be in touch soon with more information.  They will get emails with training dates and will be kept up to date with our progress, their roles and shifts

If you achieve this, you will maintain a happy and cooperative volunteer force.



Manage more efficiently

 You owe it to your volunteers to be efficient. Hit your deadlines (or say beforehand if you are going to be late), send them clear information and don’t change your mind mid-job. 

My Race Makers already know when the training is taking place, when the event starts and finishes. Yes I may need to make changes, but the Operations Team know that too many late changes will impact on the Race Makers


Remember why they are here – so don’t forget to thank them and show them what a difference their efforts have made.

At the Wallingford Festival of Cycling, we will be holding a post-event BBQ kindly sponsored by a local pub and everyone is invited.  All Race Makers will get a T-shirt to wear and many mentions on the day


Get Scheduled has been used at some of the UK largest volunteering events, such as The Ryder Cup 2014, ICC Champions Trophy 2013, Team London since 2012, however it is completely scalable so the newest cycling event on the British calendar is using Get Scheduled too!


Want to use it for your event?  Sign up for a free 28 day trial at https://getscheduled.co.uk/sign-up

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