Guest post by Christine Lindstrom of Lindstroms on the Road.
Attending concerts and festivals can be a lot of fun! Hearing a great speaker can be educational, inspirational and entertaining at the same time. Traveling sometimes presents us with opportunities to go to great events, rather than waiting for them to come to us. But ticket prices can be prohibitive so it isn’t something that we do very often. That might change, though, now that we’ve discovered a way to attend some of these incredible events for free: volunteering!
Last February, I found out that one of my favorite authors would be speaking at an event about an hour away from where we were staying in southern California. I started gathering a group of friends to go with me, and in the end there were five of us ready to fill a car and go. We were excitedly looking forward to a Ladies’ Night but when we tried to buy our tickets, the event was sold out. The disappointment was high, but so was the determination not to give up trying. When we couldn’t get tickets online, we got on the phone. When we couldn’t get them by calling, we jumped on Facebook. We posted on the Facebook event page, hoping someone who had bought tickets might find themselves unexpectedly unable to go and might be looking to sell their seats. Instead, we were offered the opportunity to volunteer. Not only were we able attend the event, but our tickets were free.
How Does it Work?
Once we had agreed to volunteer, we received electronic tickets via email and we were “on the list.” The specifics vary for different events, but the event we attended asked us to arrive about an hour before the doors opened and stay about 30-45 minutes after the event had ended. Our responsibilities included selling books, t-shirts, and CDs at the merchandise table and helping people sign up to become monthly sponsors for a child sponsorship organization. Before the event, we helped set up the tables, learned how to do our jobs, and started working as people entered the venue. We then went in to sit in our reserved seats and enjoyed the event until about five minutes before intermission when we went to our stations to pass out child sponsorship packets. We worked the tables during intermission and then returned to our seats for the second half. Just before the event ended, we returned to our posts to be ready for the exiting crowd. We sold merchandise, signed up sponsors, then helped clean up and repack the unsold items.
We may have missed a minute or two of the content, but it was barely noticeable and a small price to pay for free tickets. Selling merchandise, especially together with friends, was actually fun and the time passed quickly. Helping with child sponsorships felt like a worthy cause, and we all agreed that the evening was even more fun and memorable than it would have been if we had simply bought tickets and shown up for the event.
Finding Volunteer Opportunities
Far from being an isolated case, these opportunities exist all over the country, for all kinds of events. Many struggle to get enough volunteers, and I still receive emails about events where more volunteers are needed. The opportunities abound, if you know where to look for them.
Loop Events manages volunteers for many Christian concerts and events. Their website allows you to search events by artist, date, or location. Reverb also organizes volunteers nationwide for more a wider variety of performances.
Other options are more local. Clean Vibes organizes volunteers to help with waste management and recycling at festivals and events in the San Francisco Bay area. Many venues or festivals have their own volunteer coordinators. A quick online search can tell you if the event you want to attend is looking for volunteers.
Things to Keep in Mind
Be sure to read the details of what is expected of volunteers before applying or registering. Some opportunities may require lifting or other physical labor. Most will require that you can be on your feet for certain periods of time. Often there are age restrictions. Families with young children may not be able to attend together, but teens are often welcome if accompanied by an adult. Remember that each event will be different so do a little research before deciding to volunteer.
Volunteering can be a fun and rewarding way to attend events for free and even get a glimpse behind the scenes. Happy helping!