How To: Non Profit Volunteer Recruitment for Event Night

Non Profit Volunteer Recruitment

One of the trickiest to-do items when organizing a big non profit event is recruiting and coordinating volunteers. Where do we find them? What skills does a non profit volunteer need to have? And which roles are the most important to fill on event night?

Some organizations already have a large donor pool to source for event night volunteers—but for other organizations, it can be a real struggle to find enough skilled people to fill the need. So we put together some tips for you on where to find a quality non profit volunteer, how many you’ll need depending on the size of your event, and which roles are absolutely necessary for pulling off a successful event.

How do I find volunteers?

  1. Reach out to your donor network. People who support your cause financially are also likely targets for non profit volunteer recruitment efforts—they’ve already shown they want to help, so why not give them another way to support your organization with time instead of money?
  2. Post on your social media accounts. Headline your post with a specific call to action: what are you looking for, when, and why? Offer potential volunteers a sense of accomplishment, and of course, free food.
  3. Check local non profit volunteer resources. Does your local high school have a leadership organization, such as National Honors Society? This is a great way to locate volunteers to work registration, or as Mobile Bidding Helpers. Also check city-specific volunteer sites!
  4. Other non profits. Reach out to other local non profits for ideas on recruiting in your area, and to get a feel for other fundraisers operating near you. People who volunteer for one cause are often open to volunteering for another, and may already have experience working a non profit event.

How many volunteers should I have?

The number of volunteers you’ll need to run an event has a lot to do with the size. Reference this handy chart as we go through the process of organizing your volunteers, and see approximately how many people you’ll need at each stage of your event.

Event sizeNumber of guestsTotal non profit volunteer count
Small event100-300 guests40
Medium event301-500 guests70
Large event501+ guests120

TIP: Be sure to elect a captain for each of your non profit volunteer teams—both to check in volunteers and make sure they have enough bodies to complete their assigned tasks, and also so volunteers know who to come to with questions.

Non Profit Volunteer Teams

What you see here are simply suggestions for how to coordinate volunteers on event night. The teams you’ll need vary depending on the schedule and type of event—but this is a good place to start and get you thinking about which specific roles you’ll need to fill.

Make sure to write down each team, who’s on it, and include contact information for each person who’s signed up and agreed to a non profit volunteer. Set up a “Volunteer Check-in” area, just to ensure none of your teams are left shorthanded on the big night.

Be sure to provide volunteers with the following essential services:

  • A place to store their personal belongings
  • Food during the night
  • A thank-you baggie at the end of the night
  • Another thank-you after the event

We recommend setting up a volunteer-only room somewhere in your venue for volunteers to go and take a private break if they need it during the event, since we all know things can get a little hectic.


During set-up, you’ll need volunteers who can do the following:

  • Transport items and materials from your office to the event venue
  • Bring and set up the décor
  • Set up the silent auction area, raffle, and any other games, contests, and revenue enhancers
  • Assist the catering crew with placing linens, plates, utensils, centerpieces, etc.
  • Set up the registration and check-in area
Event sizeNumber of guestsNon profit volunteer count
Small event100-300 guests5-8
Medium event301-500 guests10-20
Large event501+ guests20-40

Cocktail Hour

During cocktail hour, guests will be arriving, checking in at the registration table, and starting to browse the silent auction offerings. We’re going to need volunteers who can think on their feet, use a computer, and show guests how to bid—especially if you’re going to offer mobile bidding at your event. These are just some of the roles you’ll need to fill:

  • Registration volunteers to check-in guests
  • Volunteers to do coat check
  • Friendly, helpful volunteers to float around and work the silent auction—people who can answer questions about the items on display and help guests place bids
  • Revenue Builders: These individuals need to be good sales people! We want outgoing, bold volunteers willing to walk up to guests and sell a raffle ticket, or encourage them to participate in a contest.
Event sizeNumber of guestsNon profit volunteer count
Small event100-300 guests15-20
Medium event301-500 guests20-30
Large event501+ guests30-50

Live Auction

As the silent auction draws to a close and you begin filing guests into the ballroom for the main event, we have some more important non profit volunteer roles to fill.

  • A great, low-pressure non profit volunteer role? Greeters! Station volunteers in and around your ballroom and equip them with seating charts and group listings to help them get guests to their assigned seats.
  • Recruit runners who can carry your live auction runner sheets to the winners to have them signed, and then take them to data entry to record the sale.
  • Recorders: Set up volunteers around the edge of your ballroom to record sales during the paddle raise. Have at least 3 separate people recording so you can compare later and be sure you haven’t missed any donations.
  • Registration volunteers who are now done with check-in are great for data entry as the silent auction closes and live auction sales start to come in.
  • Start setting up for check-out! You’ll need volunteers to package up silent auction items by the winning bidder, organize printed receipts, and get ready for item pickup.
Event sizeNumber of guestsNon profit volunteer count
Small event100-300 guests8-10
Medium event301-500 guests10-15
Large event501+ guests15-25


At last, it’s time to wrap up!

  • You’ll need a team of volunteers to get items for guests and help carry large items out to cars or taxis.
  • Have another small team doing payments and check-out—reprinting receipts and cashiering guests who still need to pay.
  • Once the event is over, we’ll also need volunteers to break down décor and clean up.
Event sizeNumber of guestsNon profit volunteer count
Small event100-300 guests8-10
Medium event301-500 guests10-20
Large event501+ guests20-40

Make sure to thank your volunteers!

They’ve put in many hours of work for no pay, simply because they believe in your mission. Show your volunteers you appreciate them! For thank-you ideas, please check out our 4 Ways to Thank Event Night Volunteers.

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