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5 Steps to Running a Great Volunteer Event this Mandela Day

GrowZA partner Tim Abaa from Nectar farms runs a learning garden in Orange Farm, GP, South Africa

While talent is universal, opportunity is not. Volunteering is a practical contribution to moving forward toward a more compassionate, tolerant, and unified country.

Here are some practical strategies to consider when planning a successful volunteer event this Mandela Day.

1. Be clear on the “why” of the volunteer activity

Why: As TED speaker Simon Sinek says, everything should start with “why.” The cause you plan on supporting should be clear. Why will this work impact those in need?

Transformative learning happens when people are personally affected by their experience.

Connect the “why” of your event to the “what,” or the activity that volunteers will do. The volunteer activity should directly support the cause.

Create an engaging description to entice volunteers to sign up. Ideally, find a way to help document the results of your work, so NGO's can report on that to donors.

2. Choose a date and time to maximize attendance

When: When does it make the most sense for your event to take place? Mandela Day is a great example of such an opportunity. Things to consider are weather, seasons, availability of components for the project and the time of day.

Ask the NGO you work with about what works for them, too, and be flexible with your dates and times. Ensure you are fulfilling a need for your partner and adding value for the project.

Where: Another component of the planning process is where the event will be held. Factor in what makes sense to your activity. Some will require outdoor space, such as painting buildings outdoors, while others will need to be held indoors.

Some activities are more flexible than others and some will have strict necessities that the event planners need to work around. For example, gardening and beach clean-ups have obvious limitations regarding where they can be held.

For fundraisers or networking events, location may matter less, but it helps to be near public transport or have adequate parking for volunteers.

3. Make information about volunteer events easy to access

Information about events needs to be accessible to volunteers and program participants. Potential volunteers need easy access to relevant information regarding the event and you want to make their journey from inquiry to volunteering as seamless as possible.

We love using Canva (for design), Whatsapp groups and broadcasts for comms and Airtable for tracking and impact reporting.

4. Have a dedicated volunteer as a point of contact for your event

You want your volunteers to contribute as much as possible during the time they are there and leave inspired to do more. This means having a great facilitator or a dedicated point of contact to be able to respond to questions before, during, and after the event.

Also, more gets done when there are more hands-on deck. Consider bringing organizations with similar goals together to increase awareness of the common cause and have a bigger impact!

5. Communicate with Volunteers asap after the activity

To build a pool of recurring volunteers, it helps to communicate with volunteers sincerely asap after the event. Sharing reflections and photographs of the event or a thank you from the project will engender loyalty and encourage volunteers to support your next activity.

Ask the volunteers to opt-in to future communication and share updates of the project periodically.

At GrowZA, we, facilitate volunteer days and programmes regularly. Reach out to us for advice or ideas for your company or community to get involved this Mandela day or at any other time during the year.

This is how we #GrowZA


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