Event volunteers: roles and responsibilities

Many events and festivals heavily rely on large numbers of volunteers to run smoothly and give their attendees a positive experience. Non-profit organizations and community groups rarely have resources to pay industry wages to put on an event. In these cases, volunteers are essential for the event to take place at all.

Three young volunteers at a music festival

As winter comes to an end, organizers start prepping events for the long days of summer. These preparations include finding, recruiting, and training key festival volunteers whose work makes these concerts and cultural happenings financially feasible.

Less-experienced team coordinators may find this task daunting, since it involves foreseeing the needs of hundreds of guests and performers. Here is a list of event volunteer responsibilities at festivals that you might need to cover.

Volunteer responsibilities at events and festivals

Team supervision

It is vital to implement pre-designed strategies across all teams in order to make the event function. Also known as assistant coordinators, team supervisors support the lead volunteer manager.

They can also be in charge of recruiting and keeping their team volunteers engaged. This is obviously a position with a lot of responsibility. It’s likely that these volunteers have been involved with the festival for many years.

Setup and breakdown

This is an active and physically demanding position where most of the work is done before and after the event. This includes building tents, stages, and other structures and laying out tables and chairs. But also hanging decorations and signage, unpacking and setting up equipment, and preparing the festival grounds.

After the event the festival needs many hands for disassembling stages and other structures, packing up equipment, cleaning up the festival grounds, and loading and unloading trucks.

These volunteers may also help with organizing and inventorying equipment and materials before and after the event.

Directing attendees and providing information

These volunteers may also help with managing entry and exit flow, controlling crowd, managing VIP or special entry lines. Sometimes it’s necessary to direct festival parking, manage the lost and found, or guide attendees to specific areas or stages. Of course it’s part of the job to help resolve any issues or concerns that may arise.

Registration and ticket sales

Volunteers are a great asset as customer service. They can help attendees with purchasing tickets, checking tickets at the gates or entrances, and provide information about the event schedule.

Although many festival passes are sold out way ahead of time, there are still some visitors that rely on the ticket booth. Sometimes guests need to pick up their passes on the spot, check in their registered tickets, or simply scan their digital ticket. Managing these guest services is a front-facing role suited best for friendly helpers.

Working at merchandise or food booths

Most large festivals usually rent their food court spots to contractors. But community festivals may set up their own volunteer-powered soup kitchen.

These volunteers keep guests in good spirits (pun intended!), from checking IDs, to pouring drinks, to manning the till. They can also sell festival merchandise such as beanies, towels, water bottles, posters and t-shirts. Excellent people skills and cash register experience are a major asset at these positions.

Security and first aid

It’s a bad idea to rely 100% on volunteers in such mission critical matters as security and first aid. But they can be of great help with supporting activities.

These can be monitoring festival grounds, providing minor first aid and providing a visible presence to deter potential problems. Checking bags and enforcing festival policies such as no smoking or no alcohol can nip most problems in the bud.

Backstage operations

Backstage assistance is usually in high demand as a volunteer spot, as it’s the best place to meet VIPs. Volunteers can help with managing artist and performer schedules, coordinating transportation and lodging for artists and performers.

Depending on the event they can also provide all other kinds of support for production staff and crew. Sometimes there are ongoing tasks such as setting up dressing rooms, providing refreshments and meals for performers. But there’s always the occasional need for running errands, and providing general support as needed.

With some training from stage managers and technical crew, volunteers can even make sure that the stage is ready. They can check that the performers are on time, and all equipment is working properly.


A picture says more than a thousand words about your festival. Volunteers with photography skills can help you snap pictures. You can use these to promote future events and keep the festival spirit alive in social media.

Just remember that these are extra pictures, and you should never rely 100% on volunteer media production. To make sure you have all necessary images, hire a professional photographer who delivers.

Runners / floaters

These are volunteers that go around the festival transporting things from one point to another. They also run basic errands to keep the core team focused on getting things done.

Social Media

As many guests contribute content on their social profiles, it’s great to have help with content marketing. Volunteers could sort out the best guest-made snaps and videos about your event. These volunteers can also create more creative media exclusively meant for social sharing.

Facilitating additional activities

Depending on the nature of your festival, additional volunteer-powered activities may be a great bonus for your visitors. Guided activities for children or devoted pet care areas can make your event more accessible for families and pet owners.

As you can see, running a festival is akin to running a small enterprise for a few weeks every year. With hard work and commitment, you can manage volunteers for an unforgettable event.

How we can help

Zelos Team Management is a modern volunteer management app focused on quick task signup and live communication – a perfect combination for managing festival volunteers.

Sign up for a free account on our website, or get in touch with our team for a free product demo.