Volunteer management software for a musicfest.
February 4, 2016 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Looking at organizing a musicfest with a few dozen volunteers. Is there software that lets me easily keep in touch with my volunteers on the day of the festival via an app of some kind? I'd like to be able to handle those last-minute things that make organizers pull their hair out. Volunteer gets sick and can't make it. Volunteer has to go home early and needs a replacement at a venue. Lost child. Minor emergencies. And major ones. Ideally this software will also help in the preplanning stages, recruitment and so on.
posted by storybored to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You're really asking for a few different things here.

For messaging, maybe look at Slack, although for priority onsite communications, I'd much rather use commercial two-way radios (which you can rent). There's a whole etiquette to using two-way radios correctly, which you and your team should learn.

For planning, there are too many options to really list, and it will come down to a matter of taste.

For volunteer management, I know some event organizers use Signup Genius. And I know of at least one other using Wordpress with this plugin. Volunteer Spot is yet another.
posted by adamrice at 11:42 AM on February 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, yet another volunteer-management system: Shiftboard.
posted by adamrice at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2016

I'm using Sign Up Genius to manage Girl Scout cookie booths at about 8 sites across our city with 5 different time slots. It's been pretty good - good enough that I paid for it.

Can't offer anything about the rest of your questions, though.
posted by neilbert at 12:27 PM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I work a ton of musicfests, and I'll second adamrice that day-of-event communications get handled by some combination of cell calls, texts, and two-way radios. I would need some pretty strong evidence that an app would speed up communications among & between volunteers and organizers before I would suggest using an app - it seems far more likely that it would add another layer of unfamiliar/confusing/possibly unreliable technology to the chain of communication, making things worse or slower rather then clearer and faster.

Not all volunteers need two-way radios (which would get expensive) - ideally you would have some sort of chain-of-command where you have one person in charge of, say, a venue or a specific job (parking, for example). That person gets a radio and then can relay info as needed to the volunteers they're in charge of.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:17 AM on February 5, 2016

Your security firm will likely be able to get you a good deal on two way radios.

If you are not using a security firm, and thus your volunteers are on the hook for crowd management and handling security issues, they do NOT need to be using their eyes or hands to operate a phone while they are doing this job. People working security need to be able to maintain situational awareness. If someone is dealing with an emergency they cannot simultaneously be fiddling with their phone; thus they would be off your radar entirely at exactly the worst time. Do this with rented two way radios, ideally with headsets, in a chain-of-command style operation like soundguy99 suggests.

Get all the volunteers together at the start of the day for a good detailed in-person briefing on what they are supposed to be doing. Make sure it's super clear who they report to. Tell them what the policies are about (lost children, suspected drug use, calling an ambulance, throwing people out who are suspected/actual troublemakers etc). If there's anything complicated about their job, issue them a laminated cheat sheet. This should reduce the amount of radio chatter that's necessary.

If you can possibly organise a sit-down advice session with someone who has run a similarly organised event before, do it. This will pay dividends in ways you can't imagine.
posted by emilyw at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2016

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