Monday, November 12, 2012

On Volunteering

The following article was written for the IGDA Newsletter. 

As someone who has led a volunteer organization and participated in many other volunteer efforts, I can tell you that what you put into it is what you get out of it. Disappointed that your IGDA chapter or SIG is not doing enough? Volunteer to make a change! Once you start, it’s contagious. Other people will step up and start volunteering too.

As I mentioned in a previous article, Wednesday Lunch in New York, I volunteered to set up an ARG SIG meet-up. From that initial meeting, I met people and we decided we wanted to do a monthly NYC-based Drink Night. It would be a low-key event, just a gathering. It didn’t matter that we started small. One has to think about current commitments and what a person is capable of doing. There’s no sense promising a gala event when there’s no one to help with it. It really is like production planning. Evaluate your resources and see what you can do in the time frame permitted.

Of your resources, the most important is the people! Treat your volunteers well and let them know how much you value their contributions. They could be doing other things with their time. Always remember that your volunteers need to benefit from this activity, even if it’s just your appreciation. No one wants to feel used or abused, especially for a volunteer activity. If your volunteers aren’t having fun, then there’s something wrong.

Treat yourself well, too. If you can’t secure that elusive speaker, then oh well. What’s the alternative? Sure, it would be nice not to have the same speakers all the time, but you work with what you got. The sky’s not going to fall down. Don’t overtax yourself. Remember, starting small is alright. As more and more people come to events, there will be more ideas for events and more people willing to work on them.

Another important item to remember is publicity. You put in the effort and so did your other volunteers, now will people come? Try to get the message out wherever you can and send out reminders, if you can. Most chapters and SIGs have a Facebook group to facilitate this. If you don’t have one, start one.

Good luck and have fun!

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.


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