Yesterday was the annual Amarillo March for Babies, and the last concrete day of my first internship.
Just some facts from the March.
About 3000 people came and we raised over 400,000 dollars (I’m not sure of the exact final total).
It was a beautiful day and everyone had a blast.
We had a bouncy castle, free coffee, a cow being milked, face painting, all of the better things in life.
Awesome right? Now here is the good stuff.
What I learned from March for Babies:
1. Assess every aspect in advance
Now I understand that you cannot account for EVERY little detail. Nor can you anticipate anything that may go wrong, but get what you can down to a science. Figure out where all of your banners are being hung, what area needs how many tables, things of that nature. If you have vendors coming you should clearly define where they will be stationed and relay that information to them as early as possible. Assessing the logistics of an event will save a lot of labor and headache when the time for set-up actually arrives.
Also, it is a good idea to make a map of the layout of the event beforehand. Pass it out to group leaders and effectively delegate work to each group within a defined area. This will help groups stay active and keep a definite role in the set-up of the event. In Non-Profits this can be hard because you are never sure what volunteers will be coming from where. You have to play it by ear at each event, but plan it as much as you can in advance.
2. Verify Labor
Like I talked about in the last paragraph, Non-Profits can have a hard time assessing how much labor they have at their disposal because volunteer help can be spotty at best. People flake, it happens. The key is to make sure that volunteers who say they will come will be accounted for multiple times before the event day. Make sure they know they are needed without seeming to be pushy. Contact them a week before the event and then the night before and verify they will come help. The more accountability they feel, the more likely they will be to show.
I know that sounds manipulative, but it will save you a lot of time in the set-up and tear down of an event if you aren’t having to do it all yourself. I am not saying you have to call every volunteer, but most certainly take good care to ensure large groups that you are counting on to be there will actually show up. It can cause a real pain when they don’t.
3. Contingency Plans
Even with all of that work, sometimes they still won’t show. That is okay, as long as you have a backup plan. If you have core volunteers that will be the backbone of your event, make sure you think of a backup plan in case they cannot or do not show up. These things happen.
The plan may not be great, and it will most likely be way more work than the original, but having that plan will let you avoid being taken by surprise if it were to happen. If 20 people do not show up, have a plan on how to do the same work with 10 people more efficiently. This is simple, but the one time you forget will be the one time you need it.
Also make backup plans for key pieces of equipment to fail on you. This has happened countless times and I am always astounded when people get flustered because of it. Technology will fail you, it is just how it goes. Murphy’s law, whatever bad can happen will happen. As soon as you need that machine it will die. It is just the way of the world. Be ready for it to go out, have a backup. No more sweat, no more headache.
These are just three big things I learned while in the action yesterday. All in all, it was a great experience and I absolutely enjoyed getting to be a part of it. We raised a lot of money for a great cause and I am proud to say I was part of this great organization. Thank you Vicki and Carla for giving me the opportunity to work with you, and thank you March of Dimes for doing what you do.