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Tips & Advice

How to Plan a Volunteer Fair

Volunteering can be very intimidating to a lot of teens. As a freshman in high school, I wanted to volunteer, but I had no idea how to start. The whole process of searching and contacting non-profit organizations seemed very overwhelming to me. One day, I received an invitation to a Facebook event called “Volunteer Fair” that Volunteen Nation was planning. At the event, teens could walk around and browse for volunteer opportunities, asking different non-profit organizations questions and even signing up for volunteer opportunities right then and there. This sounded easy enough, and it was exactly what I needed in order to get involved. I was thrilled.

At the Volunteer Fair, I signed up to be on the Volunteen Nation Junior Board, and I started getting emails about some of their events soon after. From that point, my volunteer life started coming together. I even helped plan their next volunteer fair. The Volunteen Nation Volunteer Fair helped me get started in volunteering, and by organizing their next fair, I helped many others get started as well. I am going to outline the planning process for the fair so that teens around the nation can help their peers get involved as well. Here is a guide to coordinate your very own Volunteen Volunteer Fair.

1. Get a team of friends together! A team is more efficient, especially when it comes to emailing, posting flyers, and setting up.

2. Pick the time and place. In terms of time, pick a date that will assure the biggest turnout. A couple of hours during a weekend afternoon is a good time to put on the event. Most importantly, make sure you give yourself a few months to plan! For the place, many venues will require a payment. However, schools and recreational centers will usually provide a space without charge if the event is for a good cause. Contact the place to tell them about your event and its mission to get teens involved.  In addition, ask if they can provide supplies like a table for each organization.

3. Contact organizations in your area that need teen volunteers. Email is most convenient for organizations, but avoid impersonal mass emails. Make sure the number of organizations that you contact corresponds to the size of your venue. When you contact the organization, tell them the details and goals of the event. Most organizations will be happy to participate in order to meet potential volunteers.

4. Promote the event. A month before the event, contact the volunteer coordinators of high schools in the area. Tell them about the event, and ask them to help promote the event to students in their respective schools. A couple weeks before the event, put event fliers with information in shops, cafes, and other places in the area if they allow it. Many places have a special bulletin board to put advertisements on, so do not just tape the flier on their front door! You can even contact radio stations and ask them to get the word out. Finally, a week before the event, turn to social media. Invite all of your friends to a Facebook event, and ask your friends to invite their friends as well.

5. To make sure everything runs smoothly, figure out the little details before the event and keep everyone informed. Where should volunteers and organizations go to set up? Who is going to help set up the tables? What do the organizations need to bring for their table? Will water and bathrooms be provided? Where will teens walk in? Who will keep track of the number of people who come?

6. Evaluate. Make sure the organizations fill out an evaluation form.

7. Send everyone a personal thank-you email. In addition to thanking everyone for their help, update them on how the event went. How many people came? Were the organizations satisfied with the event?

8. Do you want to help your community even more? For instance, have all the teens that attend pay a fee of two cans of food to donate to your local food pantry.       

Try organizing your own Volunteen Volunteer Fair, and let us know about it! If every one of us teens did our parts, just think of the impact we could have.