How to take the fear out of volunteering!

Recruiting the number of volunteers needed to staff your School Carnival or Fun Fair can be a challenge. Here are some of the roadblocks that you may need to navigate in order to have a successful event. It should be a “Fun Fair” not a Work Fair.

Fear of commitment– Volunteers may hesitate to commit to your event for the following reasons:

  • Work schedule may conflict with the times of the event.
  • Volunteers are afraid to be lured into committing to long hours, or too many events during the school year.
  • Families may not want to miss out on the fun.

Solutions to help ease the fear of commitment:

  • Start out new volunteers with small doses of time commitment.
  • Accept any amount of time graciously from new or returning volunteers to avoid “burn out”.
  • Schedule short shifts for your volunteers to allow for family time at your event.
  • Reward volunteers with incentives. Free or reduced game or food tickets are always appreciated.
  • Accept volunteers who can donate time other than at the actual event. Pre-event activities can encourage involvement of the working parents. Planning, marketing, networking, decorating, and purchasing supplies are valuable contributions to the success of the event, and encourage the creativity of volunteers.
  • Accept help at clean up or tear down time. This is a bonus for the tired workers who have been at your event and would like a break.

Fear of acceptance- Volunteers may shy away for these reasons:

  • New volunteers can be worried about “fitting in” to the group. Some are not natural joiners.
  • Volunteers may not feel they have enough to offer.

Solutions to help make your volunteers more welcome:

  • Smile!  Introduce new volunteers to your group with enthusiasm. Show your gratitude to the returning volunteers as well. Let your volunteers know that they are valuable to your group and the success of the event.
  • Create teamwork. Partners and teams can share the work load, and help new workers feel included.
  • Communicate with all volunteers. Make sure they are aware of what is expected, and be sensitive to the assignments given.
  • Encourage creativity and new ideas. New volunteers can add a fresh new twist on an old event.
  • Schedule a “thank you” activity on the event date, or schedule a special event to express your gratitude.


Fear of boredom- Volunteers may lack enthusiasm for these reasons:

  • Workers may not feel the event is exciting or worth their valuable time.
  • Past volunteers may be bored with “the same old event”.

Solutions to add excitement to your Carnival or Fun Fair:

  • Set a goal for the group to achieve. Teamwork can equal success.
  • Advertize! Use all the resources you can find to get the word out. Volunteers like to be a part of an exciting activity.
  • Use fun themes to create excitement. Theme decorations and coordinating attire can make the time spent working together fun, and help create memories at the event.
  • Encourage creativity. Creative volunteers will spark interest with new ideas each year. This will give your volunteers and guests something to look forward to at the next Carnival or Fun Fair!
  • Combine some of your group’s smaller “struggling” events together to create a “Big Event”. This will add more excitement and a larger turn out of both volunteers and guests. Food sales, raffles, and contests can create a fun “Bazaar” atmosphere with something for everyone.
  • Add a new special activity to create interest.


Sources for recruiting new volunteers to help at your event:

  • Parents, grandparents or other family members of your students.
  • Senior citizen groups.
  • Scout groups.
  • Church or other groups that need to fulfill a service to community requirement.
  • High School or Junior High Students who enjoy helping entertain a younger crowd.

Good luck with your event!

Sue Schultz

The Fun Ones

Carnival Event Planner