Hi from Ottawa,
I'm chiming in a bit late but thought I'd share some ideas from our local
We're a pretty big dance (attendance approx. 100-110 per evening).
We let the following people in for free:
-Floor manager (overseeing the whole night)
-Sound volunteer (helps our sound man with set up and tear down)
-One other volunteer that helps with set up and tear down.
All other volunteers pay for entry. This includes:
-All board/committee members
-Volunteer responsible for snacks
-Volunteers who welcome/help make sure shoes are clean (issue at our hall)
-Door/entry volunteers (2 people from 7-8pm, 2 people for dances 1-2, 2
people for dances 3-4, 2 people for dances 5-6)
-Others who help with tear down
We recognize volunteers in a few ways:
-Announcements from the mic
-One free dance with local talent in May at the end of our season. Others
can attend but they pay. Special snacks.
I think there's so many other cool ways that volunteers could be recognized
-thank yous in eblasts, maybe the odd feature of a volunteer
Emily in Ottawa
This Tuesday, July 21, the Historical Tea and Dance Society will present a
special themed night on Global Terminology / Positional Calling with me
(Brooke Friendly). 6pm PT / 9pm ET
This is part of their 5 Things webinar series. It's free
Here is a LINK TO REGISTER: https://forms.gle/Yz2wUK2yTZ8H4UBy8
Hope to see some of you there,
At Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis, we actually came to the
conclusion some years back that we were OVERcompensating our volunteers. We
were handing out free passes right and left, sometimes for pretty minimal
effort, and one of our board members did an analysis that persuaded all of
us that it was affecting income. We especially noted that large numbers of
free passes were used when high-profile performers appeared, which cut into
their income (because they got a straight percentage of the door).
We put a reform into place when I was on the board. We stopped giving
members a bunch of free passes with membership. For contra, if the
volunteer effort allows one to dance (i.e. end-of-the-night cleanup), you
get into the dance for free but don't get anything on top of that. If the
volunteer effort significantly prevents you from dancing a large chunk of
the dance (admissions, sound), you get a free pass for another time.
Committee work doesn't get you any passes. Callers and musicians are
considered paid performers and not volunteers, and get no passes.
Our other programs also shifted along similar lines, but were modified to
fit their circumstances. Our family dance, for example, has always operated
on a shoestring budget and does not compensate volunteers at all -- and we
initially paid performers so little it was basically volunteering. But by
last year, we had developed a solid enough following that we were able to
increase performer rates. Yay!
We tried giving our regular volunteers-programmers and dance managers “golden ticket” passes to get in free to all of our dances for the year.
Anyone who volunteered 4+ hours/month.
They were given out at our New Year’s dance and the volunteers were thanked then.
They were very grateful.
The program lasted 3 years.
I would have liked it to continue.
We in Philadelphia are working through some dissatisfaction with how we
compensate our volunteers. We have the question on the table of
compensation vs. recognition.
We are a little bit stuck, so I'm looking for other ideas to get us out of
our stuckness, to see if there's something that's working really well.
A core issue with the dissatisfaction is a feeling that callers are valued
more than other kinds of less-public but still-essential volunteers.
I'm looking forward to hearing how it works in your communities. (Or if
this has been covered before ad nauseam, please feel free to reach out to
me off-list and tell me how to search the archives, thanks.)