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Walk Softly and Carry a Big Schtick .

March 9th, 2018
09:44 pm

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Little red book of conrunning #4: Take care of your people
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.

More from HanaLena Fennel:
“For my Staffers a lot of times I'll bring reusable water bottles so they’re staying hydrated throughout the convention. Also I fill them full of candy because it's fun.”

“In addition to treating a volunteer well being the right thing to do, it also sets the tone for the convention. Volunteers who feel respected turn around and respect your attendees. They're generally more happy to be there, which creates a more successful convention experience.”


That’s a key thing. Take care of your volunteers during the event. On a convention-wide basis, I believe in providing food for the staff is important, not just so that they don’t faint from hunger, but also because it shows you care about them. I know of one department head who puts meals together for the staff of the department, so they don’t have to go across the street to pick up and use the “meal tickets.” (Cf. the UK convention scene’s Gopher Refreshment Tickets aka Groats.) And more than once through the years I’ve seen departments where a couple of different people including the dept. head will bring in things to share.

At FanimeCon in some years, the convention provides a budget to each department to cover feeding them. Some of the departments disburse the monies in the form of meal tickets that can be redeemed at the venue’s food outlets. The Operations department, however, would put together a massive take-out order each day, for example they might get Thai food one day and Mexican food another.

It’s not necessarily always about free food, though; in some situations, esp. outside of cons, it may not be as appropriate. My lovely wife Lynn was President of her genealogical society, and at the end of her term she gave the board members high-class Moleskine notebooks. I was president of a middle school PTA a couple of decades ago, and I gave them all plastic lawn flamingos.

Treat your volunteers well. If the staff enjoy being a part of the action, they’ll make the convention worth attending and they’ll come back and help you again.

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