VSP User Spotlight: Eno River Association

Rather than scanning through countless emails and crawling through spreadsheets, Carolee Helgesen, Volunteer Coordinator for the Eno River Association (ERA), has used Volunteer Scheduler Pro since 2012 to schedule over 500 volunteers for the Festival for the Eno in Durham, North Carolina each July.

In the heart of North Carolina, residents can trek for 40 miles along the banks of the Eno River. The ERA was created to conserve the Eno threats of pollution and development. To meet this goal, ERA hosts over 20,000 attendees at its annual summer festival to raise funds and educate festival goers about the importance of conservation and land protection.

Coordinating this massive effort takes months of careful planning. “We use VSP as an organizational tool,” Carolee explained. “It definitely helps us to stay focused.” Carolee begins by creating jobs for the festival. There are 20 categories, from the drink booths to recycling.

Next, Carolee writes or updates a description so that volunteers know what to expect. Then she determines how many volunteers are needed for each day and for what periods of time.

The volunteer onboarding process for the festival takes place using VSP’s online enrollment forms. This allows ERA to collect basic information from volunteers, like names and contact information, in addition to unique data using Custom Fields, like t-shirt sizes and volunteer experience levels. VSP’s online enrollment form is linked to ERA’s website, which allows Eno festival volunteers a seamless way to sign up for assignments.

While some festival volunteers are tech savvy, that’s not true for everyone. To ensure all volunteers are served, regardless of their comfort with technology, Carolee utilizes VSP to both print schedules and post them online.

There are numerous ways to communicate assignments in VSP. For Carolee, one of the most beneficial features is the email confirmation. She said, “The cool thing about VSP is that I can send volunteers an email confirmation [as soon as their shifts are assigned].” This lets volunteers know exactly what shifts they’ve committed to in real-time and allows them to add shifts to their personal calendars.

With volunteer contact information and assignments saved in VSP, Carolee can easily print and mail each volunteer’s schedule along with their badges. Eno festival volunteers also get an email reminder three days prior to their assignment, which they’ve told Carolee they appreciate. “And I do too!” Carolee said.
After the festival ends, several months pass before it’s time to start organizing for the next festival. Over the years, Carolee has utilized VSP’s unlimited tech support, which is included with every VSP license, to get her questions answered fast as she gets assignments set up for the next festival.

Right now, the Eno River Association is looking forward to their 40th annual festival next summer. Without a doubt, the team will use this special anniversary to educate festival participants on the importance of keeping the Eno’s beauty preserved, while offering food, fun, and festivities for all!

Photo credit: Dencher, Wikimedia Commons