Volunteers are incredibly helpful, and hackathons wouldn't be possible without them.
Before the hackathon, you should send them an event pack that explains all the information for the hackathon, also linking them to any internal wikis you have.
Before hackers arrive, it's best to brief your volunteers on the plan for the day, and how they can help. At the same time, you can make sure they are set up with your communication platforms.
What should I tell my volunteers in advance?
- Location of the event, including parking/transport links and information on the venue layout.
- Timings for the event, this should be a run of show as well as information on shifts.
- A reminder on what to bring, remember that not every volunteer will have been to a hackathon before!
- Information on how to contact the organisers in case of an emergency, as well as info on the hacakthon slack/discord.
You need a way of communicating with your volunteers, so they know what's going on. You should add them to your staff channels on Slack / Discord so they know what needs doing. If possible, you should give them a radio so they can respond to things really quickly.
Once hackathons start getting larger than 200 people, it can get difficult for volunteers to know how they can help without getting in the way. The best approach is to assign them to a specific team. This may be food, logistics, networking, audio/visual, etc.
If you ask what skills the volunteers have, you can start sending them information about the team they've been assigned to before the event. This means they understand how that part of the hackathon is going to work before even turning up.
Under 18 Hackathons
Your volunteers should be background checked as they are working with children. Ideally, getting your volunteers enhanced DBS checked is better.