An effective volunteer program is a must-have if your organization conducts numerous events and activities each year. Such a program should allow you to recruit volunteers from a database of several thousand people. Even though the recruited number will vary from event to event, you'll recognize more than a few people who become repeat volunteers.

This core group can become beneficial to your organization and, therefore, should be nurtured as a group and recognized for their work. We always have projects that can be quickly completed by 6-8 persons, such as mailings, credential badge assembly and the ever-present goodie bag stuffing.

And some projects pop up on short notice. Since it's not desirable to use staff for these projects, being able to quickly contact 20-30 volunteers is helpful. After a while you will know who will most likely available on short notice and those who need a few days' notice.

A number of event functions require dependable and experienced volunteers, such as parking, ticket sales, merchandise sales, concession sales, team operations, transportation, hospitality areas and team hosts. Events that are known well in advance will allow your key volunteers to schedule accordingly, and they will take pride in being an important part of the organizing committee.

Providing them with a polo shirt instead of the standard T-shirt is recommended. You will also want to make them part of the after-action summary by soliciting their input on improving their area of responsibility.

Some members of this group could also comprise a volunteer advisory council for your organization, providing input into event services such as parking, uniforms, meals recognition and corporate recruiting. Because a number of key volunteers are retirees who are also involved in other organizations, they can share their experiences and help improve your volunteer efforts.

An excellent job is that of part-time receptionist. Having them work a day or half-day in the office means they can also perform other routine tasks for staff members while answering the main line.

Key volunteers who work years with your organization should actually become an integral part of it. You'll want to invite them to staff functions and social events where appropriate, and keep them well informed about organization activities. If you have a volunteer of the year award, then most likely that person will come from this group.

Whatever you have volunteers do, the idea is to nurture a small group of dependable ones that become an experienced event staff.