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Volunteer Burnout and Guide to Better Conferences

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Experience Level: 
Saturday, 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Session Length: 
60 minutes

Volunteer Burnout and Guide to Better Conferences

Our lovely Twin Cities DrupalCamp began in 2011, meaning that this is the 7th year of our conference.

Since the beginning, like many camps and conferences, it has been almost entirely volunteer driven. A small, core group of Drupal users has used their free time over the course of many months each year to plan for speakers, sponsors, sessions, venues, parties, meals, registration, recordings, and all the other things. And it has been good! (right?)

But how healthy is our conference? Is this an arrangement that can last another 10 years? As they years go by, are our volunteers feeling as frisky and inspired as they did from day 1? Does anyone face a sense of dread that comes with camp planning? Are we in any danger of flaming out? Or simply fading out a little each year and just “mailing it in?”

I would like to celebrate our conference as a fun, well-executed and rewarding experience, while at the same time sound the alarm. Burnout is real. Like any relationship, enthusiasm can wane over time. People lose interest, life events get in the way, conflicts can go unresolved, and the burdens of volunteer time can start to affect quality of life, or time spent at your day job.

Let’s have a discussion about this, while we’re in camp mode, and see how we might address it. For this talk, I would like to cover:

  • Comparables - present examples of other long-standing successful conferences, both small and large, and look at how they manage volunteer time and keep people engaged.
  • Our community - how we’re organized and how we’ve managed Twin Cities DrupalCamp so far
  • Current issues - what challenges are we facing today
  • Brainstorming - let’s start some idea generating as a group, by listing out the issues that need to be addressed, and ways we can start working to solve them

This is a talk I hope can be attended by anyone at the conference – current and past volunteers, sponsors, organizers of other conferences or community groups, and veteran DrupalCamp attendees. Let's look at how to build a sustainable conference for years to come.

Learning Objectives & Outcomes: 
  • Start dialog within Twin Cities Drupal Community about how to stay viable and avoid burnout
  • Share lessons from successful and sustainable community groups
  • Share ideas for people who organize or volunteer at other Drupal Camps, or other community organizations