Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017


SWF Survey Questions

This week, in an organisation I work with, I participated in a study about volunteer retention. Today I had a practical lesson in how. Via the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Survey taker Induction. How hard can it be? I might just miss this one! It will be fine on the day! It’s all good! Just asking questions, right? This might have been my thinking when my roster first came out but my Festival volunteer experience so far leads me to believe that if they run a course in something, go to it. And I was right.

We were a pretty representative group and all the worries when I am approached to do surveys were mentioned in today’s briefing: Is my data available to marketers; if I give you my email to enter the competition for a $200 Glebebooks voucher, is it linked to my data; you just want me to say good stuff about the Festival don’t you; will you be sending me emails asking for donations? Answer to all of the above. Nope.

Next questions. Is this going to be quick; is it really confidential; why do you really need to know this stuff? Answers: 5 minutes; yes absolutely; it really helps not-for-profit organisations to attract funding or sponsorship. Generally it will give the on-the-ground, real-world information that shapes an iconic, creative, accessible event.

So. Questions about the surveys answered, on to the practicalities of being a survey taker. And this is where SWF excels! It’s all about experience. There are so many lovely people in the room to help and support us as we became familiar with the each of questions and what their purpose and history are, how to use the technology and, what I found just fascinating, how to approach potential participants.

Bounding up to people. Not a good technique apparently. But I think I will keep the other shared insights to myself until I have the chance to put them in action.

Because, when we sign up to put ourselves out of our comfort zone as a vollie, what are we looking for? To serve a community might be right at the top but personal growth comes in there too. And as part of the SWF Survey Project how will I grow. Apparently, we will have improved skills at balancing our ability to stay positive with accepting rejection easily. Admittedly, the fear factor is high and heart rate up at this point.

Perhaps what scared me most was the number of experienced volunteers in the room who were nodding at this revelation. Jennifer, an old hand sitting near me, nodded along but in her smile and her evident delight in sharing accrued wisdom I was once again convinced that volunteers stay because they are nurtured, supported and valued.

I’m feeling confident but I would like to say to you wonderful Sydney Writers’ festival attendees, “Please reject me gently if rejection is required!” Oh …and I will have lollies about my person.

The Sydney Writers’ Festival kicks off Monday 22nd May at various venues about the city.

Twitter: @SydWritersFest
Facebook: @SydWritersFest
Instagram: sydwritersfest
Youtube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuCZP35tRLm6YfvB9HiS3Vg
iTunes Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/sydney-writers-festival/id985898011?mt=2