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How to Find and Attract Race Volunteers


Having enough volunteers is critical to the success of any race. However, it’s not always easy finding volunteers to give up their time on the weekend, so we’ve put together a few suggestions to help find and attract race volunteers.

How to Find and Attract Race Volunteers

Having enough volunteers is critical to the success of any race. We, as race directors, simply can’t be everywhere at once, nor is that the efficient way to manage a race. A good race director organizes and rallies the troops, providing clear instruction to volunteers as to the role they’ll play on race day, where they’re needed, and exactly what they need to do. It’s not always easy finding volunteers to give up their time on the weekend, so we’ve put together a few suggestions to help find and attract race volunteers.

Volunteers from Your Supported Charity
If your race is fundraising for a charity, ask your charity contact if they can reach out to their volunteers. Depending on the size of the charity, they may already have a well-established pool of volunteers looking to help. Since you’re helping their organization, they’ll be happy to help you as well.

Honor Students, Key Clubs, and Sports Teams
High schoolers looking for volunteer hours can be a huge help to your race. Key clubs, for instance, are student-led organizations with a goal of teaching leadership through service to others. Reach out to your local high school and ask if they have a key club you can approach. These students have been a huge asset to my own races, and they’re great volunteers. Check with friends or go direct to the school to see if any sports teams are looking to help a community event as well. In some cases, cross country students won’t be able to participate in your race, but may be eager to help.

Election Season / Small Groups / Businesses
My race is every year in September, which puts me in prime time for elections ramping up. Reach out to local campaigns and offer them plenty of exposure, in exchange for their volunteer time. This is another source with a built-in volunteer network. In my case, I’ve picked up dozens of course marshals, all supporting a single candidate. They wear their candidate’s shirt at their post, which blankets a section of the course. It shows community involvement and helps spread the word.

If your race isn’t around election time, you can do something similar with small groups and organizations looking for extra exposure. I’ve had pet rescue groups look for the same type of on-course exposure, as well as a local bank. I get another group of volunteers eager to help, and they get exposure for their cause or business.

Provide Promo Codes for Discounts to Another Race
Offer a promo code to another race you manage. Promo code management is easy through RaceDirector. Simply setup a one-time promo code to be used by individual volunteers, or a single promo code that could be used by a limited number of registrants, recognizing that the promo code may get shared among a few friends.

Show Tons of Appreciation!
Probably the most important thing you can do is show that you sincerely appreciate your volunteers. Be sure to publicly post your appreciation as often as you can, and thank volunteers individually. They’re giving up their free time to help make your race a success, and you simply can’t do it without them. I always host a volunteer get-together the week before my race, where I hand out assignments, meet everyone, and buy drinks and food. I’m also sure to get every volunteer the same swag that a race participant receives. All of this “volunteer appreciation” expense is part of my race budget each year, but is something I don’t feel should be skimped on. If you show your volunteers that their help is beyond appreciated, you’ll also attract a great group of volunteers eager to help at your next event.

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