6 Ideas for Finding Volunteers for Your Race
A great race depends on the hard work of many volunteers. A troop of dedicated and energetic helpers can help a run go off without a hitch and without anyone feeling too exhausted when it’s all done. However, too few volunteers can mean scrambling and confusion on race day, resulting in an event that isn’t much fun for anyone on the planning side.
How can you recruit enough volunteers to make your next race a success? Here are six ideas to try.
1. Use social media to put the call out. If your race doesn’t have its own Facebook page and Twitter feed, now is the time to set those up. Ask for likes and follows on your race website, and consider sponsored posts for more visibility. Then, make regular calls for volunteers, and ask for reposts and retweets to help get the word out. You might try offering a free race shirt to a random reposter or retweeter as encouragement.
2. Contact groups of individuals who need volunteer time. Many high school students need volunteer hours as a graduation requirement, so check with your local guidance offices as well as athletic departments. You might also check local centers for troubled youth. Many of these individuals need to do community service hours as part of the center’s program.
3. Contact organizations that like to help out. If you have jobs for younger people, scouting groups are often a great place to start. In addition, check with senior groups and other organizations in your area whose members like to do community work. Start with service clubs like Kiwanis and Optimist Clubs.
4. Offer an incentive to volunteers. You’ll often find that something as simple as a free race t-shirt is enough to convince people to give you a few hours of their time. Food is also a good incentive; consider a volunteer breakfast before your race or an afterparty when things wrap up. Also consider gifts from sponsors to sweeten the deal.
5. Partner with other runs. There are often many races within a 30 miles radius in a given year. Work with the organizers of these races to create your own incentives for runners who are taking a particular race off. You might offer reduced or free entry to another race in exchange for a volunteer shift or two. As an example, The New York Road Runners Club guarantees entry to the New York Marathon for any runner who volunteers to help out at a race and completes a certain number of races in a given year.
6. Come up with a list of things you need done and publicize it. Sometimes people won’t volunteer for an event if they don’t know what they’ll be doing. However, if you list the specific jobs that you need done, you might be more likely to recruit volunteers who like to do those things. For example, if you need help setting up a festive tent at the finish line, saying so may get you some volunteers who really love to decorate for parties.
The good news for race organizers is that there are generally plenty of people who are willing to help out before, during, and after a big run. Knowing how to find those individuals is key, and knowing how to persuade them to give you a few hours of their time is important. These six tips should get you well on your way to a great group of volunteers to help you race go smoothly. And of course, don’t forget to say thank you to your dedicated helpers!

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