Volunteer Appreciation BBQ 2012
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What: A BBQ to celebrate Free Geek volunteers, staff and board members
When: Saturday, July 21, 2012 from 3-7 PM
Where: Free Geek/Market Studios parking lot
Attendance: ~175-200 (including staff)
- Planning committee included Stephen, Amelia, Walter, Misty, Kelly, Robert, Kevin, Sarah, and Larry (Board member)
- We used the events@ list and a google doc spreadsheet to communicate
- We met roughly weekly started about 2 months before the event
- Much of our planning information is contained in several sheets in this spreadsheet: Media: Planning_for_Summer_Barbeque_2012.gnumeric
- To schedule staff help the day of, we had people sign themselves up on this google doc (and then filled in what we needed to: Media: 2012_BBQ_Schedule_Sign-Up.gnumeric
We had lots of beer:
- 15 cases of assorted Ninkasi (donated by Ninkasi)
- 1 keg of Widerm Bro's IPA (donated by Widmer)
- 2 cases of Omission (gluten-free) (donated by Widmer)
- 1 keg of Rogue dark IPA (purchased for reduced price)
We easily went through both kegs but have ~10 cases of Ninkasi left. [Start soliciting beer donations ~2 months in advance.]
For non-alcoholic choices, we had two large beverage coolers--one for ice water and one for lemonade. This seemed to be fine.
- Porta potties (2, including one wheelchair accessible) from American Sani-Can
- Set up three large tents (having a large tent over the food tables was key) and one small pop-up canopy (for the beverages)
- [We have the parts for three large tents, but they take some time and ~4 people to set up. Should do a parts check before the day of to make sure it's all there.]
- Pulled out tables and chairs from all over FG (probably had ~15 large tables)
- [Make sure 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's DJ friend (large powered speakers, a mixer, and a mic)
- Santi brought his grill from home for the meat, and we used a FG smaller grill for the veggie stuff
- 2 plastic tubs of miscellaneous supplies are living in the bike storage area labeled "BBQ stuff"
Everyone who came before 4 or 4:30 got 3 raffle tickets to go toward winning the following prizes:
- A super high-end system with peripheral devices including subwoofer speakers, keyboard, mouse, and high-end LCD monitor
- A laptop
- A/V stuff (a reverb amp and 3 DVD players)
- Gift cards/items from other businesses (see spreadsheet for details)
The raffle is a hit every year. Start soliciting businesses for donations well in advance--at least 1-2 months. We had a poster thanking sponsors that featured their logos; telling businesses that we do this will make them more likely to donate.
It was also very helpful to have a template in-kind donation request letter that could be customized and submitted to different local businesses. Next year's template should be finalized at least 2 months in advance so donations can be solicited more efficiently. Versions of the letter that promised to publicly acknowledge our sponsors and listed the various media in which we would be acknowledging them (website, newsletter, social media, verbal acknowledgement at the event) tended to be more successful in picking up donations than letters that did not include this information.
Here are the Raffle tickets we used. It contains 100 tickets, but if you change the numbers in the top row (ie from 1000 to 1100 and from 1001 to 1101) you can generate the next 100 tickets. We printed and cut out 600 on cardstock paper and this was more than enough. Might want to compare the cost of staff time, paper and printing for this method with the cost of rolls of ready-made perforated raffle tickets, which might be cheaper overall. (We used ready-made tickets as beer vouchers - could easily get tickets of a different color for the raffle.)
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. These should be used for chess games, which also tend to be a popular activity. Blaine (long-time Build Instructor) likes to play multiple games simultaneously against multiple competitors; this activity brings in lots of participation.
- Photo Op Face-Hole Board
Misty brought a carnival face-hole board that a friend of hers had painted, and volunteers used it for photo opportunities. This was a last-minute activities addition that folks seemed to really enjoy. Next year we may want to consider painting a board with some sort of geeky/tech theme and have a staff member assigned to take photos of volunteers that can be printed out and they can take a copy home with them.
We put up "Save the Date" flyers ~1 month in advance and big (11"x17") flyers a couple weeks in advance.
We also sent out emails to Regulars@, Social@, and BoardAnnounce@ a few times leading up to the event.
Debrief: Thoughts for Next Year
- Attendance was ~200, plus staff makes approximately 225-230.
- Approximate cost of food, ice, beer etc. was $500. [Hard numbers will be input by Stephen.]
- Assign someone on staff to be photographer.
- Set expectations with helper volunteers (Reminder: you are representing Free Geek at this event. Please do not over-drink, act professional, etc.)
- Brownie competition (and participatory activities in general) need more advance advertising. Maybe a dip competition? We provide chips, have folks bring savory dips and winner gets a prize? Put a sign-up at the Front Desk a couple weeks in advance and email out a reminder.
- Provide more non-alcoholic drinks (we ran out of lemonade. Purchase 2 more 5-gallon juice dispensers and keep all 4 out.)
- 3 large carport tents needed plus 10x10 canopy for beer, and 1 tarp stretched between canopies. One canopy should be placed over food-serving table.
- Tent set-up needs to start at 9am with at least 4 people. These should not be the same people who are running errands to get perishable food supplies on the day of the event.
- Security worked well - have 2 people assigned at all times, make sure they have aviator sunglasses. 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. (Color-code parts too!)
- Dunk tank! Carnival atmosphere encourages participation, try to have more games like cornhole and hackeysack.
- 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 2ish weeks in advance (letter, and then in-person reminder a couple days ahead.) May be able to get more parking lot space from McGuire next year, use space for games.
- Use more advance meetings as working time rather than all verbal check-ins. Inform schedulers of how many staff needed for the day so they can deny vacations requests as needed, and/or shorten/cancel some volunteers shifts so staff are free to help set up.
- Don't underestimate need for a lead event planner with the big picture in mind. It often wasn't clear who was the right point person to ask when staff had questions, or who was responsible for filling unexpected holes in planning process. Volunteer/Front Desk Coordinator is most logical default person to fill this role; this person should expect to dedicate roughly 5 hrs/week for 6 weeks prior to event, and at least 10 hrs/week for 2 weeks immediately before event. Regular duties should be delegated and substitute floor coverage acquired in order to get planning work done.