Performing Arts
Case Study
Jeremy Farmer, Rockport Music Festival
Number of Volunteers:800
Alanna Swinemar, Music Nova Scotia
Number of Volunteers:200
Matthew Morgan, The Grand Theater
Number of Volunteers:100
What do you think your volunteers like best about the VSP system?
JEREMY: The fact that I can communicate with them easily -- with as many or as few of them as I need to. They have a resource that they can go to and see their schedule.
What do you like best about VSP as a scheduler?
JEREMY: The biggest thing, honestly, that I’m most happy about is the customer support. I always feel like if I’m stuck I can go to the Help menu and you guys are right there. You respond quickly and will always work with me.
What kinds of volunteers are you scheduling?
ALANNA: We schedule a variety of roles. They include: management, stage management, assistant stage management, doors, merchandise sellers, ushers, runners, and registration – basically anything that can be related to a festival or conference that we would need to staff. The festival can use anywhere from 120-160 volunteers over a 4-day period. We do them all in Volunteer Scheduler Pro.
How do you capture volunteer information outside of basic contact info and scheduling preferences?
ALANNA: We use Custom Fields. For example, we provide t-shirts for our volunteers so I have a field that asks their t-shirt size. Because we’re a music festival and we have events that happen in venues where you have to be of legal drinking age, we use custom fields to confirm their age. I have fields in there for emergency contact name and number also.
Are there scheduling challenges that you think are particular to the performing arts industry?
ALANNA: Things happen at the last minute. Being able to fill vacancies and get the word out once the festival starts is important. We use swap requests and auto reminders to help with that. We have so many shifts and so many volunteer hours, it’s important for us to have to put as little effort as possible in during the festival when those vacancies come up. It really helps that volunteers can take care of themselves.
What made you choose VSP as a scheduling tool?
MATTHEW: I searched through 5 or 6 programs and VSP had the most features available without all the extra frills you really don’t need. The primary feature that stood out is the ability for volunteers to log in and schedule themselves. We set up a schedule skeleton and our volunteers log onto the Web Terminal and do their scheduling on their own.
What did you use before VSP?
MATTHEW: Phone calls. Our box office staff would spend 6-8 hours a week calling. VSP does that all for you without having to spend any man hours besides setting up the shift itself.
How much time do you spend scheduling now?
MATTHEW: It literally takes me all of (well the computer is super slow) but once I’m in the program, it’s literally moments afterward that I have a shift available and volunteers can sign up.
How much time did it take to set up VSP initially?
MATTHEW: I let the user take care of everything. I sent an email to everyone and asked them to join. Literally, I sent out the Enrollment link and let everyone enroll themselves. It was ZERO effort on my part other than composing an introductory email with a web link enclosed. It was exactly what we needed. We were going for minimal man hours, with the most features available.
What’s the biggest benefit of using VSP?
MATTHEW: When you have multiple shows at different times ALL the time, it’s easier to put a schedule of availability online so people can request things that they would like to go help with.
I also love working with the Rosterizer and being able to do different spreadsheets. At our yearly meeting I use it to find our top 8 volunteers. I post our top 8’s online for volunteers to see. We had 8 volunteers do 50% of the work last cycle and posted a thank you to them on the Web Terminal. It’s nice to be able to provide those metrics to me, the user, and see where we need to grow and where we’re hurting.
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