Volunteer Appreciation BBQ & Town Hall Meeting 2013

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This page is being migrated to a documnent of Free Geek's Google Drive.
Once the migration is done, we will post a link to the new page.


What: A BBQ to celebrate Free Geek volunteers, staff and board members (this year we also included the Town Hall Meeting)
When: Saturday, August 17, 2013 from 3-7 PM
Where: Free Geek/Market Studios parking lot
Attendance: ~165 (including staff)


  • There was no planning committee this year. Coordinated by Director of Public Services.
  • Planning started about 4 months prior to the event.
  • Asked staff to indicate which jobs interested them (scale of 1-3 or 1-5) and then assigned them tasks based on those interests. Tried to give all staff some free time to interact with volunteers. Planned to have those who were scheduled to work late come in late.

Ideal(?) day-of timeline

Good idea to post this timeline at various stations inside and outside the building for staff.

  • 9:00 Begin setting up tents and gathering tables (2 people)
  • 11:00 Begin food prep & more people setup tents (4 people)
  • 2:30 Initial staff in place and training for various duties
  • 3:00 Kick off event (allow sign-ins, serve food, etc.)
  • 3:30-4:20 First Town Hall Meeting in Classroom
  • 4:30-5:20 Second Town Hall Meeting
  • 6:00 Raffle drawing (do not have to be present to win)
  • 6:30 Start ending event - thank everyone for coming in, start some cleanup (dishes, etc.), make it clear things will end at 7
  • 7:00 Volunteers asked to leave, go into full clean up mode
  • 9:00 Clean up ends (may take longer, depending how much cleanup should occur)

Staff roles

Coordinator (1 or 2) Setup (x3) Food prep (x3) Cooking (x2) Serving food Serving beer (x2) Check-in desk (x2) Security (x2) Runner (x2) Emcee/sound support Photographer Putt-putt master Cleanup (x5)


  • 1 keg of Ninkasi beer (donated)
  • 2 small kegs of Buckman Brewery beer (purchased at a reduced price)

[Start soliciting beer donations ~3 months in advance.]

  • FG has party taps for two kegs
  • 7 cases Viso drinks (donated)
  • Two large beverage coolers
    • one for ice water (tap)
    • lemonade (concentrate, enough for 3 coolers filled up)
  • James made (awesome):
    • pulled pork
    • coleslaw
  • Purchased (unless noted):
  • 30 Vegan Dogs
  • 100 All Beef Hotdogs - 16 packs
  • 30 Garden Burgers
  • 20 Vegan patties
  • 150 Hot Dog Buns - 16 packs
  • 350 Hamburger Buns - (some donated, had way too many)
  • Gluten Free Burger buns (1 pack)
  • Gluten Free Hot Dog buns (1 pack)
  • onions
  • lettuce (donated)
  • tomato (donated)
  • pickles
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • Cucumber Salad (donated)
    • lemon
    • olive oil
    • salt/pepper
  • Tortilla chips
  • Salsa (small paper cups to reduce contamination)
  • Ice (you'll likely need more than you think; easily available at Cash & Carry)


  • Facilities should be assessed 1 month prior to event. Same person/responsible parties must be available the day of the event.
  • Porta potties (2, including one wheelchair accessible) from American Sani-Can. Priced them out again this year and they were the best. Highly recommend we go for 2 standard porta potties and allow those who need something else to go inside the building.
  • We have 3 full sets of poles for tents. It seems we may have other partial sets that could be completed should we need more than 3 tents. We set up the 3 tents with about 6 feet between the long side of each tent, then bridged the 6 feet by putting up tarps that were really intended to be walls of tents (for inclement weather).
  • Pulled out tables and chairs from all over FG (probably had ~15 large tables)
[Continue to label where tables came from with masking tape so that they go back to where they came from.]
  • Sound system was provided by Austin again, with some materials from FG (large powered speakers, a mixer, and a mic)
  • Small grill for the veggie stuff is currently stored upstairs, above the warehouse.
  • 2 plastic tubs of miscellaneous supplies labeled "BBQ stuff"



Setup the DJ booth in front of the dumpster and used the Free Geek quilts to decorate. Looked and sounded good.


Everyone who came before the 6pm drawing got 3 raffle tickets they could put in cups to go toward winning any of the available prizes:

  • Media center system
  • Laptop
  • Gift cards/items from other businesses

Start soliciting businesses for donations as soon as you know the date (at least 4 months in advance, so they can be included in promotional materials including posters, newsletter, online media). Include a Volunteer Appreciation BBQ day of banner with sponsor logos (for pictures to be shared in a thank you note).

We used two different types of pre-printed tickets. The low cost of these is valuable as compared to staff time and materials if we produced them in-house (as we did the prior year).

Everyone who came signed in (we used a paper list/binder of volunteers from the prior 4-6 months and wrote down the names of people who weren't on the list) and got two drink tickets (for alcohol) and 3 raffle tickets. Included the opportunity to add guests to a volunteer sign in (just numbers of guests, not names). Encouraged greater participation in the Town Hall Meetings by offering an extra 3 raffle tickets for those who attend (gave them out as people left the meeting).


There is a cardboard box which lives on the shelf above the staircase in the main upstairs office, labeled "Blaine's chess sets" which contains 3 chessboard mats and compatible pieces for all three boards. Blaine (long-time Build Instructor) likes to play multiple games simultaneously against multiple competitors; this activity brings in lots of participation. Don't forget them the day of!

Miniature golf

Rented a miniature golf course from Parties Inc. They have a nonprofit discount and were responsible for setup/takedown. Very easy to work with and have a lot of other party rental options.


Flyer should be up about a month in advance.

Send out reminder emails around the same time as well as follow up. E-newsletter, social media, board-announce mailing list are prime for this. Don't put it up on the main page of the website in advance as it's a volunteer event.

Debrief: Thoughts for Next Year

  • Solicit donations for the raffle, food, drinks as soon as you know the date (well, at least 4 months in advance). This makes it much easier to get donors on all promotional materials
  • Integrating the miniature golf with the Free Geek truck was a great idea. Having an activity works well. Consider a dunk tank next year. Ensure the activity is visible (not behind the dumpster). Finding a way to integrate it with something we do at Free Geek is also recommended.
  • Ensure there are enough non-alcoholic drinks.
  • New setup for the event, using the building to protect the food, having the DJ booth in front of the dumpster, keeping the drinks under the stairs, worked out very well.
  • Tent set-up needs to start at 9am with at least 4 people (and will include 6 people at some point). These should not be the same people who are running errands to get perishable food supplies on the day of the event. Will require one or two carts to move things around.
  • 2 people on security is all that's necessary, even when bringing people into the classroom for the Town Hall Meeting. Staff-only signs at warehouse entrance also helped keep volunteers out of the building.
  • During breakdown, canopy parts should be packed into separate boxes so they're easily sorted for next use. (They're now color-coded, I believe!)
  • Port-os should be placed next to the steel bin, not directly behind it, so they are visible from our parking lot.
  • Talk to neighbor businesses 3 weeks in advance (letter, and then in-person reminder a couple days ahead.)
  • Ensure managers know this is an "all hands on deck" event so they don't approve too many vacations. Really important to have staff there to appreciate volunteers and work.
  • Ensure the front desk gets extra cash the day of the event for Cash & Carry purchases (unless Beancounters have another way they'd like to handle it).
  • Don't forget to thank the staff after, as well as publicly thank donors/volunteers via website, social media and newsletter.
  • Must have a manager available through the end of the event, including cleanup. This person should probably come in late that day. Also, cleaning expectations have to be very clear for both the manager and staff.

Helpful documents

Solicitation emails and thank you notes

Organizational tools, etc.