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Little red book of conrunning #3: Your volunteers - Walk Softly and Carry a Big Schtick .

March 9th, 2018
12:00 am

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Little red book of conrunning #3: Your volunteers
This is part of an occasional series of posts on the art and craft of fannish volunteer-run conventions. These are my opinions and my experiences. As always, YMMV.

HanaLena Fennel writes:
"...If somebody is volunteering their time, resources, or experience to help further your dream you need to be respectful of the gift they're giving you and actually value their contributions. If you are running something that is dependent on volunteers, you are in a position of power to sculpt their experience. If you are not honoring that, you shouldn't be in charge."

Beginning lesson: Say "Thank You." Say it early, say it often. Having a meeting? Thank the people who are giving up their afternoon to attend. Doing an end-of-the-convention dinner? Stand up and thank everyone who made it happen. And so forth.

I was founder and eleven-year chair of a convention, and most years here's what I did. I would buy a large number of small stuffed animals, usually from Ikea. I'd go around the convention with a printed copy of the staff list, and give each staff person and volunteer that I could find one of these little thank-you presents and give them a short little speech thanking them for making the convention happen.

And then, after the convention, once we'd compiled a complete list of everyone who'd been on staff or had volunteered for an hour or more, I would hand-write a letter to each of them. I'd thank them for the thing they helped with, and mail it off. I set myself a goal of completing and mailing at least six a day. It might take two or three months, but everyone would get a thank-you.

They made the convention happen. The least I can do is thank them for it!

(I did say these were my opinions and experiences. I'm not saying that if you're in charge of a department, or a convention, or are organizing a bunch of donations, that you have to thank them the way that I did. But you better be doing something to live up to HanaLena's charge!)

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