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In our arts community, we want to run a survey about potential new events we could do next year. Which events we do, and where they are held, will be determined partly by the responses to the survey, so getting honest answers is critical.

I know from running many events that 2X to 10X as many people will say "yes, I'll participate" as will actually show up or volunteer. How do we tweak the survey to filter out the folks whose enthusiasm exceeds their free time?

It's critically important to us to know how many real potential volunteers and attendees we have for each hypothetical event.

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What I've seen be effective in the past is to not merely ask if they're "willing" to participate, but to actually get them to sign up for some specific task / task family.

Someone who tosses-out the friendly, "that sounds cool - I'd help" is far less reliable than someone who says, "that sounds cool - I'll help decorate the room," or, "that sounds cool - I will coordinate catering", etc.

Get specific with what you want people to do: a more-or-less full list of everything that needs to be done, and how many people are needed for each thing. Something like:

  • food / catering (3 people)
  • decorations (6 people)
  • marketing / flyer handouts / neighborhood canvassing (20 people)
  • speaker / demonstrator coordination (3 people)
  • donation coordination (2 people)
  • etc

This way you have "guaranteed" volunteers for specific things - and if one of your food folks (to use the above example) has to back out, you have the chance to decide if 2 people are enough, or if you need to replace them.

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