Although your committee members will be volunteers too, the volunteers in this section are the helpers who get involved in the running of the event, rather than the team that has organised it.

Volunteers are one of the pleasures of running a conference.

People want to volunteer and help - it’s their conference and they want to be a part of it. Don’t underestimate the number of people who’ll be willing to help, or how hard they’ll work or effective they will be.

Your committee has to stay small, but your volunteers can be a larger and looser group.

Enlisting volunteers

Just ask for volunteers if you want them, but you’ll also find that volunteers approach you asking if they can help.

Student attendees often make excellent volunteers, so especially if your event has some connection with a university, you’re likely to find some very good recruits amongst them.

Roles for volunteers

You’ll need volunteers:

  • while setting up
  • at registration
  • on the registration desk during the event
  • to act as runners
  • while clearing up

None of this work is in the least bit glamorous, but you’ll be surprised how willing people are to take part in it. Obviously, if you just stand around issuing commands at people their willingness may falter, but in any case you should take a lead by being the first to step in for the worst jobs.


Volunteers need to know what they should do and where they should be; the clearer you can be about this, the better. It should be in written forms, so that don’t have to remember important things when they are in a rush. A handbook for volunteers can be valuable.

This should contain:

  • information about what happends where and when and who’s involved in it
  • times and places of all events, including social events
  • contact information for all the committee
  • a reminder of the code of conduct, and guidance on what to do if there’s an issue (see below)

Code of conduct

If there are any code-of-conduct-related problems, volunteers need to know what to do. This should be:

  • look after anyone if they are upset
  • gather some basic information such as names
  • contact the committee

And that’s pretty much it. They should not be expected to investigate or resolve anything. Again, this should be provided in written form.