THE MAJORITY OF OUR VOLUNTEERS come from our alumni. These are people who have gone to our conferences and have been involved for a couple of years. We ask them to help out. We go through a database of people and contact them.

We also reach out to people who have been involved in local chapters and have gone on mission trips, as well as to former employees or interns. We get the word out that we are looking for volunteers. If people want to volunteer, they complete an application and submit it. People are really committed to the ministry and are excited to help out. They look at it as a way to give back.

To show our appreciation to volunteers, we give them a special rate on lodging. They get to stay two to a room as staff members do, because we consider them to be staff. For the most part, conferees have to stay four to a room or pay extra.

And for one night of the conference, the volunteers have a special seating area up front. They are asked to stand up, and they are acknowledged for their hard work with a special round of applause from the audience.

Volunteers also get a DVD set of the conference and a complimentary conference T-shirt, which they wear during the conference. We also sponsor a volunteer dinner for them and provide on-site childcare for our volunteers. We say thank you a lot.
Gregory Hersey
Director of Operations
The Impact Movement
Winter Park, Fla.

CATHOLIC CHARITIES USA RELIES ON the support of the local host agency to provide enough volunteers, either by using their own staff or finding friends and supporters of their agency to help. Over the course of the conference, they might have as many as 75 volunteers scheduled.

We show our sincere appreciation for the volunteers' efforts through continued recognition during the conference, and when volunteers are working on-site during the conference, they are invited to participate in any of that day's events or sessions.
Amy Stinger
Manager, Conference Planning
Catholic Charities USA
Alexandria, Va.

Within the group, WE PUT OUT WORD VIA E-MAIL asking for volunteers, and they come forward. Then we have a meeting ahead of time to tell them about their responsibilities.

During the conference, there is a speakers' area with food and a place for speakers to congregate. The volunteers also have access to this area, so they can mingle with the VIPs and eat. This is a perk for volunteers because the conference fee does not include food. For meals, attendees are on their own, but the volunteers receive snacks and food throughout the two- or three-day conference. They also get recognized from the stage during the event. I make sure that even though they are working, they get time to enjoy the conference.
Marianne Pielin, CMP
Event Planner
Pleasantview Ministries
Redlands, Calif.

All of the volunteers come from our organization. ONE THING WE'RE DOING IS CREATING A CONVENTION BLOG to collect information and get expertise in certain areas. People can volunteer through the blog and tell us the areas in which they are interested. For volunteers who want to provide music, for example, we ask them to send in a CD or recording, kind of like American Idol.

To show our thanks, we identify our volunteers throughout the convention. We ask them to stand up and be recognized. Sometimes we give them small perks, such as free registration, free meals, or a free room at the hotel — it varies.

I volunteer myself. I'm the meeting planner, and I do the logistics and the contracts, and I've been doing this since 1999.
Dennis O'Banion
Convention Meeting Planner
Church of God (Seventh Day)
Conroe, Texas