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5 Tips for Motivating Your Program’s Volunteers

Jeff Dodd ·

Music and other fine arts gives wings to the mind, offers flight to the imagination, and unleashes the creative soul. Teaching and advocating these principles to the next generation matters now more than ever. Educators and Booster Club leaders share a common bond around this important mission. But they also face a common challenge - meeting student educational needs and striving for program growth goals that need MANY helping hands.

No matter how committed or organized you are, there are only so many hours in a day to tackle all of the tasks required to sustain and grow your program. The scary thing is, many fine arts teachers are saying they increasingly experience feelings of being overwhelmed and of these more than half consider the possibility of leaving the profession. Volunteers aren’t immune to these overwhelmed feelings either! As pressures intensify midway through the program, the risk of your volunteers becoming distracted and disconnected is at its greatest.

The solution? Engage your volunteer community consistently and passionately to take on practical tasks AND fuel your program with their contagious enthusiasm all season long. As a former educator who ran multiple programs with no assistant, my booster club and other volunteers were a very vital part of our growth and success. I recognized very quickly after starting my career I needed help and could not possibly do everything needed by myself. Along the way, I discovered five great lessons to repeatedly engage and motivate volunteers successfully that anyone can use.

1. Acknowledge Them Quickly

If someone volunteers, use them in some capacity. It is important that you do not dismiss them as it may put them off and you may never see them again. No task is too small! Allow people to pitch in with alphabetizing forms, setting up snacks for a rehearsal, decorating the stage for a performance, organizing a storage room, helping with attire and uniforms, chaperoning an event or light fundraising. A thank you goes a LONG way. Send out an announcement to your members thanking people who showed up and made things happen behind the scenes of a great performance the following day. Post a shout out on your social media outlets.

2. Set Them Up for Success

Prior to larger events, ask the volunteers to attend a meeting to go over the details of the event and what will be needed from a volunteer standpoint. This creates a sense of continuing to give back to the students and the program as a whole throughout the school year. Make sure they understand all of the important parameters involved so they represent the program in the most positive role. Ensure they have the event date on their calendar and a reminder the day before. If you are using CutTime to manage volunteer opportunities for your program, then these two items are taken care of for you.

3. Let Them Show Artistic Pride

Allow volunteers to wear attire that displays your brand - tee-shirts, polos, hoodies, jackets, hats, etc. This allows them to feel a part of the entire organization and shows their pride in the students and who they represent. It also encourages more volunteers to join and to be a part of the fun! Offer a few key spirit wear items as bonus recognition awards around positive behavior you want to foster - “Mission Impossible Master”, “Concessions King and Queen’, "Usher or Chaperone of the Season’. You can easily create these limited edition one-off items through a customized Digital Store with our partners from Team IP.

4. Empower Them to Shine

As a volunteer, simply ask the director to help them with a specific project or take on a project you may see would be helpful in running the organization more smoothly. Most directors will be thrilled that you asked them to take on projects or help with even the smallest of tasks. Try using CutTime’s Announcements feature to send out a quick survey asking your guardians what talents they would like to use for the benefit of the program.

5. Keep Them Plugged In

Volunteers are giving their valuable time to advance your program. Help them feel extra connected by giving them regular updates on achievements your students are making as the season progresses. Let them be the first to hear fantastic news and help spread it to the wider community. People love to volunteer with their friends! Make sure they can see who else has raised their hand to help with a special project or key role like concessions, chaperoning, or fund raising. CutTime facilitates this for you by enabling guardians to see who has signed up when they view events in their portal page.

Your volunteers are the lifeblood of your fine arts program’s success. Nurture them and they’ll nurture you back.

Need Help Managing Volunteers?

Keeping up with dozens of job postings, sign ups, reminders and more can be exhausting. CutTime can help you recruit more helping hands and ensure they know the what, how, when, and where of what you need.