How Do You Make Volunteers Happy?

Ian Robinson, 5 September 2012

Participants: Ian, Chris, David

Starting point was my running of a theatre that's staffed entirely by volunteers and the problems of getting non-paid people to work together and agree on stuff. Do they want control? What do they actually want? Volunteers should be asked.

Because it's all free time, some people see others as giving more but really it should be people giving what they can. Volunteers have different levels of commitment - perhaps a production/cycle needs a meeting early on so everyone appreciates each others' commitments? Can't be authoritative, must share info. Get everyone in the same room to chat.

Maybe a professional could be brought in to cascade their experience down - run sessions, put things in place? Feed down through volunteers. If a director has weakness in an area (eg tech) they should be surrounded by people who are knowledgeable about those areas. Important to get the right team. Both actors and crew need to feel assured the other is supporting them, especially in the areas they may not understand.

A production/venue must have a common language that flows through so everyone knows what everyone else is talking about. Perhaps more social nights? More mixing of cast & crew throughout productions?

It's not necessarily about getting the “right” volunteers, but getting the “right mix” so they co-operate. Enthuse people and make things inclusive. Everyone has an ego!

All good ideas, not sure it's totally conclusive but something to work on.


Director, Theatre, Community, community, amdram, volunteer, co-operation, social, director, producer, theatre