Read Better Be Better has a small staff of 23 and relies on volunteers to run the Arizona-based nonprofit dedicated to helping the state’s literacy crisis.
To gain volunteers, they signed on to the Phoenix Volunteer Fair at The Van Buren, which is set for Sunday, February 10.
“As a small nonprofit, we don’t have a lot of staff members and we have to pick and choose where we spend our time,” says Kelsey Pinckney, Read Better Be Better’s program manager.
Hosted by the venue, Downtown Phoenix Inc. and the city of Phoenix, the volunteer fair brings together hundreds of nonprofits and showcases them to the thousands of people who filter through the concert hall eager to volunteer.
Alison Sipes, director of events at Downtown Phoenix Inc. says event gives potential volunteers the chance to meet and talk with various organizations to discover what each one has to offer. Diverse nonprofits will appear ranging from well-known groups like Planned Parenthood to the grassroots Room to Read.
“It’s not always easy to find out what organizations are all about,” Sipes says. “We wanted to help people who wanted to volunteer get the information in an easy, intimate way.”
Arizona Hemophilia Associates’ Victoria Katz calls the event a great way for patrons to compare nonprofits like hers, which helps improve the lives of people with bleeding disorder.
The Arizona Hemophilia Association is returning because its staff loves Downtown Phoenix Inc.’s motivation to build a better downtown, says Katz, the development and marketing director. Once the Arizona Hemophilia Association found out they were hosting this event, Katz says “it just made sense,” so they signed up to participate.
Katz estimates 200 volunteers came to their booth last year and they connected with Greater Phoenix, an organization that helps other nonprofits get their volunteer opportunities out to Valley residents.
Read Better Be Better decided to participate in the fair this year because it had the resources to spend the time there. Pinckney says she has never seen an event like this and it shows “our community is full and vibrant.”
Artlink Inc. volunteer coordinator Leslie Criger agrees, saying she finds the event valuable.
“As with any organization, when you get an opportunity to put your brand out to a new audience you should take it. Even though Artlink has been around for 30 years, people are still discovering the organization.”
Criger says Artlink was excited to sign up for the event this year because it allows the organization to “lay out our elevator speech face-to-face and capture more like-minded people and answer questions.”
Sipes says the hardest part of coordinating the fair is “getting the messaging clear.”
Numerous groups signed up, but Sipes says she needs prospective volunteers to arrive. It’s just a matter of communicating and making sure people are aware of the event.
To join, nonprofits must register a spot for a booth space and then the volunteer fair staff selects an array of nonprofits. So far, 104 organizations have registered, 22 more than last year. There is a waiting list, which caused the fair to expand its space. This year, booths will set up in the Van Buren as well as down Fourth Avenue.
On the day of the fair, Fourth Avenue will be closed from Van Buren Street to Monroe Street. Patrons can park in the garage at Adams Street and Third Avenue.
“The volunteer fair is a way to bridge the gap between a normal person within the community and nonprofit organizations that need help all the time,” Sipes says.
Phoenix Volunteer Fair, The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren Street, Phoenix, thevanburenphx.com, 11 a.m. Sunday, February 10, free.