Choosing the right staff for events can make or break them; training helpers properly to work is your responsibility as a leader.
It’s frustrating to arrive at an event and have no greeter, and no understanding of where to go or sit. If a single event is poorly run, a donor may think the organization is unprofessional. This impression can be crucial to those watching for chinks in the nonprofit.
An event doesn’t end when everyone is checked in, seated and speakers begin. Staff members are needed from start to finish — and they must be aware they are working the entire time and not there to party as guests.
Train the staff ahead of time
It’s up to you to train them ahead of time, and make sure they know where they are to be at all times during the event. Let them know their work may seem trivial but it is very meaningful to the success of the event.
Keys to successful staffing are:
- Have at least one sharp and organized person at the greeter’s table, but two if for a large crowd. Have them greet each guest by name with a smile: “Welcome, Mr. Smith. Happy to have you tonight.” First impressions are meaningful.
- The greeters and those checking in guests and providing materials are to remain at the door or near enough to handle any latecomers or situations that come up at the entry table.
- Have at least one person helping guests find their seats and making sure no place cards are switched. There is rhyme and reason to seating charts. These staff return to the back of the room once speakers have begun in order to help latecomers find their seats. As seats are filled, inform your staff of who is missing and where they are to be seated, preferably with a seating chart.
- If the event is large, have another person helping the speakers or handing out materials — whatever is needed. Staffers should check to make sure materials are at every place setting.
- If the event involves a meal, after all guests are seated and you give a nod, staffers may sit in the rear and be served after the guests. They are workers, however, and should act accordingly. Definitely no phones and no partying. They should be unobtrusive during the meal, watching to make sure they’re not needed by you, or by speakers or guests.
- Helpers should remain in the room throughout the program unless arrangements have been made otherwise, and they should be ready to help clean up at the end of the event. They may usher out guests or survey the room to help collect any materials to pack away.
Ben’s Takeaway: “Details count for every occasion. Impress upon your staff they are representing the nonprofit and boost their professionalism, especially around donors.”