A successful event relies on having a good team of people involved who can make it happen.
Having an organising committee is a really useful way to allocate roles and responsibilities to different people. This will share the workload across a team and allow people to use their own expertise effectively.
The size and type of event will determine the number of roles needed and the quantity of work involved, if it’s a small event then people may be able to do multiple roles, if not then quite a few people may be involved.
Some of the key roles for an event may be:
Venue and Site management
Technical management – scheduling, officials, timing, results
Marketing and Comms
Once you have identified the roles required, then you can look to recruit people to deliver them. It’s worth considering the amount of time a role will take (before, during and after the event), what skills it requires and what, if any, qualifications are needed (e.g. safety or welfare officer).
Once you have the roles and people identified, an organisation chart can show who is delivering each role and what they are responsible for.
For each role within the organising committee it is important to identify their responsibilities.
Leads meetings and co-ordinates work done by others
Negotiates with any venues or waterways or stakeholders needed for the event
Oversees the budget
Manages the overall project plan
Completes risk assessment for the event
Attends the British Canoeing Event Safety Officer Training
Arranges any safety boat provision required
Monitor the event to ensure the risk assessment and safety regulations are being followed
Venue and Site management
Leads on the set-up and de-rig of the event
Ensures appropriate provisions are in place
Arranges and manages any additional providers who will be bringing things to site (e.g. toilets)
Management of waste
Technical management – scheduling, officials, results
Preparing and managing any competition elements of the event
Liaising with officials
Overseeing the collection and processing of results
Manages the overall event budget
Controls/monitors money coming in and out for the event
Ensuring invoices and expenses are paid
Collecting entry fees and other money owed to the event
Marketing and Comms
Promoting the event in advance through website, social media, local media, posters, club newsletters, etc.
Providing coverage during the event, e.g. latest results, photos, information
Writing up reports or reviews after the event
Ensure there is suitable provision for people on site – participants, volunteers, officials, spectators
Ensure food safety guidelines are followed if providing catering in-house
Management of waste (with the venue and site management lead)
Sport and Medal Presentations
Provide entertainment and information through PA system, music, announcers, etc. during the event
Arrange medals and/or prizes for any presentations
Plans when and how they will be presented
Considers opportunities to promote the event and the sport through the presentations
Supports the recruitment of volunteers and officials for the event
Ensures that volunteers are looked after during the event
Acts as the safeguarding officer for the event
Be the main point of contact for any concerns people may have or situations that arise
Have attended the Safeguarding and Protecting Children (or Home Nation equivalent) and NSPCC Time to Listen or In Safe Hands workshops or refresher courses in the last 3 years
Engages with potential partners to secure sponsorship or value in kind contributions
Ensures any sponsorship agreement is delivered against, e.g. branding or invitations
As well as the core team of volunteers who may be involved in the planning of the event, there may well be additional volunteers who are needed to support the running of the event. They may not need extensive experience or training but without them the event wouldn’t be possible.
The roles they are needed for could include:
Stewards - car parking, access to the water, restrict access to certain areas. If well briefed, they can also provide information and a friendly welcome to the event (first and last impressions matter).
Registration/Welcome - how do people sign up to take part in the event? If there is some sort of sign-up process for this, then you will need people to supervise it and potentially distribute information or equipment, e.g. race numbers.
Timing and scoring - if you are running a competition, then depending on the system you use you may need people to be involved with the timing or scoring of races (e.g. operating stopwatches or judging).
Photographer/reporter/social media - you may want to document and celebrate what happens at your event so it’s worth having someone who is responsible for this. Without this, it’s easy to finish the event and realise there are no photos or social media posts available as people didn’t get a chance to take them.
First Aiders - for most events, first aid will be done in-house so it’s important to ensure there is suitable provision on site with a volunteer/s who are trained and with the right equipment/facility.
Catering - if you are offering catering and doing it in-house, then it’s likely that you’ll need a team of people to prepare and distribute food.
Announcer/Commentary - you may want to have someone who is responsible for putting out announcements, playing music or providing commentary through the event. Some people will hate the idea of having to speak publically, potentially through a microphone, but others will love it so it’s best to find the right person.
As well as the roles themselves, there are a few other things to consider:
Do you have enough so that people can take breaks or swap roles throughout the day?
What is your critical number of volunteers in each role - e.g. what is the absolute minimum that you need to make the event run safely?
What information do you need to provide the volunteers prior to arrival - parking, what to wear and bring, where to report to, what is happening when, do they get water/food or bring it themselves, emergency procedures?
Do any of the roles require DBS checks or safeguarding qualifications?
There are various places that you may be able to find volunteers, including:
- Within the club - this could be paddlers, friends and family
Neighbouring clubs - it may be that you could run joint events to share the workload and experience.
Regional Development Team (RDT) - there are likely to be people across the region who may be able to help. The RDT can also advertise through their channels. Visit the RDT page of the British Canoeing website to find your region and contact details.
Discipline Committees - again they can advertise for roles you need, specifically the sport specific roles in their community. Visit the British Canoeing website to find a link to your discipline committee.
Local community groups - many local authorities or community groups will have channels to attract volunteers, e.g. Lee Valley Volunteering.
Uniformed groups - your local scouts, guides, cadets may have an interest in paddling and are always on the lookout for volunteering opportunities.
British Canoeing - for some events, British Canoeing can advertise for particular volunteers that are needed. This may be through the Canoe Crew or to wider members. Contact the British Canoeing events team on [email protected] to request.
Local partners - there may be local businesses that offer staff the opportunity to volunteer with local community events or would be happy to do so in exchange for a chance to go paddling!
In order to recruit through these channels, you will need to consider and detail:
What volunteer roles you need and what the roles involve.
When they will be required and for how long.
If the roles are open to any age or only to adults. If you are using juniors, then it’s important to consider the safeguarding implications.
Any experience required and/or training that will be provided.
What volunteers will be provided with (e.g. travel expenses, lunch, t-shirts).
What are the benefits of being involved, e.g. being part of the event, playing a part in a team, giving something back.
Once you have this information, it may be worth creating:
Adverts to highlight what is needed, e.g. physical or electronic flyer.
Sign up sheet, e.g. a google form, survey monkey or contact email address to be able to collate all the required details.
Prior to the event, it’s important to make sure that everyone involved in delivering the event knows how the event will run. Releasing an event plan (see the project planning page) can help to cover the majority of this but a briefing on the day can help to reinforce the key messages and cover any late changes.
Some of the things you may want to cover in a briefing are:
Welcome and thank you
What is the plan for the day?
Any last minute changes which need communicating
Key health and safety messages – emergency procedures, weather, car parking
Key FAQs and answers that participants/spectators may have
Any questions from workforce
Communicating during the Event
It is important to know how best to communicate with your workforce, particularly given the layout of your site.
There are a few options which may be relevant:
If it is a small site, then face-to-face communication may be sufficient.
If it is a large site, then as long as there is mobile phone signal or wi-fi available, phone calls or messaging may be appropriate, as long as numbers can be shared and are accessible to people throughout the event. Consider a laminated card of useful numbers if people may be out in the rain for long periods.
VHF radios may be useful if regular communication is needed across a reasonable distance. These can be purchased reasonably cheaply or hired for events, depending on the quantity needed.
The key thing to ensure is that all of the workforce know who the first point of contact is in an emergency and has an effective way of communicating with them.
It is sometimes helpful to provide the workforce with some kind of uniform or kit. This allows participants and others to easily identify them.
The size and duration of the event will determine the quantity of type of kit required but may include:
Branded clothing can be sourced relatively cheaply, however, it is also worth considering if it can be created with a reusable design to improve the sustainability of it. A local company or sponsor might cover the cost in return for having their logo on the kit.
The event workforce are likely to incur some expenses for an event so it is worth at least considering whether or not these will be reimbursed.
It may be for a small local event that the only expenses many people incur are their travel to the regular club venue, in which case it may not be required. If, however, there is significant travel involved (e.g. to collect equipment) or an individual buys a number of things for the event (refreshments, stationary, etc.) then it may be necessary to reimburse them.
It is important to communicate any expenses policy to people in advance so that issues don’t arise after money has already been spent.
A club may have a wider expenses policy which can be used, alternatively the template and example below may be useful.
If an event is regularly delivered then it’s important to consider who will organise, deliver and support it in the future. There are numerous events that no longer take place because the key organisers are no longer involved.
There are a few ways to reduce the risk of changes in personnel, including:
Documenting lots of detail about how the event runs, key decisions that have been made and contacts of other people involved.
Identifying people who may be able to support in the future and involve them in other roles at earlier events, e.g. as part of the organising committee or shadowing more experienced organisers.
Actively encourage new volunteers or a rotation of volunteers to avoid a perception that an event is organised and delivered by a fixed group.