Jen May, a photographer and organizer of Help-Portrait Los Angeles, offers tips for using Google Docs to organize your event.

No one is a fan of disorganization, especially when you’re leading a team of volunteers during a busy holiday season. One way to save you time and energy is to take advantage of Google Docs, a free online tool that can help manage your event, specifically with recruiting volunteers and creating a master volunteer schedule.

First, let’s start with inviting volunteers to sign-up by creating an online form.

Step 1: Once in Google Docs, drop down to select “Form” under the tab “Create New.”

Step 2: Fill in your questions that you would like to get from volunteers. The form below is what I use for Help Portrait L.A. requesting basic information like their name, email address, and how they would like to help. You can add in other items such as, “What times can you help at our event?” and “What equipment and gear can you bring to the event?”

Step 3: Use the link at the bottom of the form to share with others in your emails, community group page, Facebook, Twitter, and other ways you’re  using to communicate with volunteers. Before you do that, double-check that you have all of the desired requests you need from them. You won’t be able to go back and edit the form after you publish it, and would instead need to create a new form.

Step 4: Google Docs then automatically creates a single spreadsheet for you listing the feedback that volunteers enter on the form. It will continue to update on its own every time a new person submits their information using your form. You’ll be able to refer to this document anytime you log into your account.

Next, let’s organize the volunteers into a easy-to-read schedule for your event.

Step 1: Select “spreadsheet” from where you last selected to create your form.

Step 2: On the top section categorize the timeline of your event from left to right starting from column “B”. Reserve column “A” for your stations or the different roles your event will have. You can use my schedule from last year’s event below as an example to build your own.

Step 3: Make use of the highlighter tool to break up the white space. By adding color you’ll help the viewer’s eye to locate details quicker. You can find the tool, also known as “Text Background Color”, in your control section above your spreadsheet. It almost looks like a Rubik’s cube with four different mini-squares.

Step 4: You can use the right side of your spreadsheet to list other details such as a list of volunteers who can help setup, which volunteers are bringing equipment, and volunteers who have yet to be assigned a role.

Step 5: Download your completed spreadsheet as a PDF over in the drop-down “File” option. You can then print it out and use it as a master volunteer schedule and share it with your team. It’s helpful to have a copy posted up at your event where volunteers can refer to throughout the day.

Organization comes with a dedication to management, and management is a lot easier to attain with these two documents.