Daily Archives: April 23, 2010

Audience development brings out the best in volunteers

This week I am working on an event and helping to fill in as the volunteer coordinator.  Figuring I would put the word out in various places for our opportunities, I posted:

  1. In local papers
  2. On Volunteer Connections Websites
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Facebook
  6. By sending out emails
  7. By spreading the word in person

Can you guess where I had the most success?  I found the majority of volunteers through using Facebook and emails.  The people on the email list and on Facebook were the people that were most connected to the dancers and the artistic director of the event.  The people that want to volunteer the most are the ones that want to help their friends and family.  My friends and family weren’t as interested when I asked in person the people that I knew, the volunteers are all friends and family of the people in the performance.

You can obtain volunteers from the outside sources, but they may not want to remain a volunteer for the long haul unless you start using audience development (relationship building) to get to know them.  Part of audience development is learning about your supporters.  For new volunteers, you will want to ask them basic questions to learn more about their preferences and reasons for volunteering:

  1. What are their strengths and skills?
  2. Do they like working with people?
  3. What do they enjoy doing?
  4. What job would they rather not do?
  5. Why are they volunteering?
  6. What ways do they want to be contacted?
  7. What days and times can they volunteer?
  8. What types of jobs have they had in the past?

I could go on with a few other questions, but I hope you are starting to get the picture here.  Audience development makes volunteering all about the volunteer, not just about what the organization wants and needs.  If you were to place a volunteer in the wrong position, you will lose the volunteer.  If you do not relate to them in ways that are best for them, you will lose them.  If you do not find out why they are volunteering, you will lose a priceless opportunity to figure out their reasons and possibly their goals for helping you.  You might find out that they are volunteering because of a friend, or they are also an artist, or that they want to give back and they chose your organization since it speaks to them.  Getting to know the volunteer and placing them in the right position will make them more comfortable.  Building relationships with your volunteers will also help uncover the passion behind the volunteering.  Once a relationship is built, they are more likely to be put in the first category of this blog, friends and family.  Audience development will bring out the best in your volunteers and get them excited about volunteering again.

Overall, finding volunteers can be a great deal easier if you ask the people that care.  Once you find the people that care and want to volunteer, get to know them as people (not just as your worker for the day).  You will most likely find out that they are special in many ways and that their qualities will be just what you are looking for!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!  Special: $25/hour through the month of April.

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, Audience Development, Volunteer Management, volunteering