Tag Archives: volunteers

Get Into the Guts of Convention Planning on Our Hotel Team

Have you ever thought about how crucial WisCon’s Hotel team is to the convention? Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you don’t know what the Hotel Department is or what they do. Would you like to learn? It just so happens we’re looking for a few understudies!

You might have already guessed that they interact with our hotel—it’s right there in the name. The Hotel team keeps in touch with the Madison Concourse Hotel, our venue, throughout the year (and not just because they get to be friends during the convention, though that’s true, too).

Details? The members of our Hotel team get the updates on remodeling and other changes happening at the Concourse, keep tabs on reservations in WisCon’s room block, and double-check that our programming will fit into the available space. They confirm which rooms will hold the Safer Spaces, the Quiet Space, the parties, papers, panels, and workshops, and sort out which rooms need what audio/visual equipment when. They work closely with the Concourse to put together the diagrams of how each program room will be set up, when those setups need to change, and whether or not we need to rent more chairs, tables, or microphones. They tell the hotel when to expect our deliveries, meet our moving truck, and make sure that everyone involved—volunteers, convention members, contractors, and hotel staff—is able to have a great time throughout Memorial Day weekend.

How crucial is the Hotel team? Without them we wouldn’t have rooms to sleep in during the convention. Or anywhere to have panels. And no one would be able to hear the panelists, since they wouldn’t have microphones. Or chairs. Or tables. And we couldn’t all chill in the Con Suite because all of our kitchen equipment would still be in storage.

Want to be part of making all of these practical details happen? We’re currently looking for at least two additional Hotel team members, no prior experience needed. We will teach you all of the mysteries of who gets a “lanyard of power,” what our contracts say, how to read BEOs, and, incidentally, what BEO stands for.

Members of the Hotel team do not need to be local to Madison, since we work via email, chatrooms, shared documents, and conference calls. Folks on the team are automatically eligible to opt for a WisCon membership rebate of 40% of your registration fee, meaning that if you register for WisCon as an adult, you can opt to receive $22 of your $55 membership back after the con ends.
To apply to join the Hotel team, please email personnel@sf3.org.

Volunteering at WisCon 41 — Lots to do!

Kristin Livdahl
Volunteers

WisCon is organized and run by volunteers and there are many ways to help out this year. We’ve highlighted a few of those opportunities in recent posts, but we also have opportunities in almost every department. Below is a list of many of the departments that use volunteers — most still need more help. We hope you will give a little bit of your time to help keep WisCon the great event it is!

Each year volunteers receive a special commemorative thank you gift that is only available to volunteers — we’re excited to offer badge wallets/holders this year. After requests for a more neutral color,  we’re going with a black holder with white printing this year.

Also, if you volunteer 6  or more hours (participating in programming counts, too!), you can receive a $20 rebate on your registration as funds allow. Volunteering can be a great way to give and also get a little back to help with convention expenses!

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator: volunteers@wiscon.net

Logistics

Often needs someone local to help with directing the movers for convention set-up and tear-down on Thursday and Tuesday.

Con Suite

This area is often understaffed. We need volunteers throughout the convention to provide hospitality to congoers. We also have a need for a few more volunteers who are SafeServ certified or willing to become certified.

Art Show

This area is also often understaffed. Volunteers are needed to help with set-up, tear-down, sales during open hours, and during the show preview.

Access

Needs 1-2 people throughout the convention to set up blue tape — early mornings and before the Opening Ceremony, Tiptree Auction, and Dessert Salon.  Also needs 1-2 more people to help put up signs on Thursday and take down signs on Monday.

Green Room

Needs volunteers throughout the convention as programming runs.

Registration

Is open almost the entire convention and needs volunteers throughout.

Safety

Various shifts open throughout the weekend. Training provided.

Bakesale for Tiptree

Needs volunteers for shifts from on Saturday.

The Gathering

Volunteers are needed to help with set-up and tear-down and to give the people staffing booths breaks during the event.

Volunteering at WisCon 41 — Art Show, Registration, & Green Room

Kristin Livdahl
Volunteers

Are you looking for a quiet place to get away from the big crowds for a couple hours? Do you need a way to meet new people at the convention but are more comfortable having people approach you? Do you want to help out with the convention but need a position where you can sit or stay sitting most of the time? We have volunteer opportunities that allow for all of those.

Art Show

The Art Show is usually a quiet oasis during the convention and there are many shifts available during the convention. Volunteers staff the desk during the show preview, assist with sales and check out sold items near the end of the convention. This area has traditionally been understaffed.

Registration

Helping check people in and register new arrivals is one of the best ways to meet new people and put faces with names. Email in advance if you are interested in taking a shift — or stop by at the beginning of the convention to see when they need help. Volunteers are needed for shifts from Thursday until Monday.

Green Room

We can always use a few more dependable volunteers to take shifts helping in the Green Room which is open during all the hours programming runs. Volunteers count attendance at programs, assist programming participants with name tents and other duties. The Green Room is great way to meet some of the interesting people who are participating in panels, readings and other programming in a relaxed environment.

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@wiscon.net

Volunteering at WisCon 41 — the Con Suite

Kristin Livdahl
Volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of WisCon and essential to keeping the convention the wonderful, diverse gathering that it is. We will be featuring a few of the many volunteer opportunities available during the con over the next few days and hope you will consider giving back to WisCon by volunteering.

Providing hospitality is part of our commitment to making WisCon affordable and accessible to everyone and the Con Suite is one of the busiest places during WisCon. Because of this, it is also the one that often needs the most volunteers. We have ConSuite shifts available starting at noon on Thursday (for set-up) and running throughout the convention. Please help us out by signing up for a shift or two. Most shifts are two hours long and we have times to fit everyone’s schedules.

We also still have a need for ServSafe certified (a requirement of our providing food for congoers) volunteers to take the lead on a four hour shift . There is still time to get certified: the course and test is online and will only take a couple hours and WisCon will reimburse you for the course fee of $15-16.

(This post from last year provides some useful info about ServSafe — what it is and why we need it.)

For more information on these or any other volunteer opportunities, please contact Kristin Livdahl, Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@wiscon.net

Volunteers sought for the Gathering at WisCon 41 — Clothing Swap

WisCon Chairs

The Gathering is the official opening to WisCon. On Friday afternoon the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Concourse Hotel turns into a fair of sorts. Activities range from a Scavenger Hunt to Tabletop Games to a Nail Polish Swap to a Fiber Circle. It’s a fun, laid-back way to ease (or jump!) into just the right mindset for a WisCon weekend.

This year we need a few more volunteers to help make the Gathering come to life. Would you like to accumulate time toward earning a rebate on your membership cost? Would you like to help WisCon members look fabulous? Join us as a Gathering volunteer!

Urgent — Clothing Swap seeks fashion mavens!

The Gathering's Clothing Swap at WisCon 40
The Clothing Swap at WisCon 40’s Gathering.

Our Clothing Swap is the only Gathering activity that isn’t run by the folks who propose it — because it’s so popular that we just keep holding it no matter what! That means we need YOU… to help out at the Clothing Swap. We’re in search of at least two people who love recommending clothes and giving opinions about what would look great on folks — but who also are willing to hang, sort, and set out the clothes that members bring in to gift to each other prior to the opening of the Gathering. Interested? Give us a holler at chair@wiscon.net and we’ll make sure you get first crack at the treasures.

The First WisCon Dinner — seeking leaders and diners!

WisCon Chairs

We’re looking for people who have been to a few WisCons already to lead a group for the First WisCon dinner — is that you? We already have a few, but we need at least two more! If you’re interested, please email chair@wiscon.net and we’ll put you in touch with the First WisCon Dinner coordinator — and yes, leading a group is volunteer time that can count toward eligibility for a WisCon membership rebate of 40% of the registration fee!

The First WisCon Dinner is our effort to welcome new attendees, share hints of what not to miss, and dispel the misperception that everyone at WisCon already knows each other. Everyone — whether it’s your first, fifth, or fifteenth WisCon — is invited to meet right outside the doors of the 2nd floor Wisconsin ballroom after the end of the first panels (between 5:15 and 5:30 pm) on Friday. We’ll organize ourselves into groups small enough to allow conversation, then each group will head to a different local restaurant chosen to suit dining preferences and your budget. Over dinner, we’ll all get to know each other and WisCon veterans will share memories and advice with new arrivals!

It’s a wonderful way to spend the first evening of the convention.

WisCon 41 Con Suite — Seeking staff & at-con volunteers

WisCon Co-Chairs

Did you visit the Con Suite last year? Do you want to see WisCon’s Con Suite continue to be a place where people choose to eat and spend time?

Then we need you!

But there’s a catch.

Our intent is to specifically address the racist and misogynist abuse toward Con Suite staff and volunteers that we saw at last year’s con, so we are putting emphasis on recruiting Con Suite staff and volunteers who are white and male identified.*

What’s the difference between being Con Suite staff and a Con Suite volunteer?

Just a matter of scope and commitment.

Staff become part of our Concom prior to the convention, comprise a team under our Con Suite leads, are required to go through ServSafe training and certification (fees paid by WisCon) and to help to guide the work of volunteers, and will be asked to commit to a minimum of two three-hour shifts during the convention. Tasks will include setting and resetting the Con Suite space, preparing and portioning foods, maintaining and monitoring inventory, helping to order supplies, and unpacking and repacking equipment, among other things.

Volunteers are encouraged to go through ServSafe training and certification (fees paid by WisCon) though it isn’t required, must follow guidance from Con Suite staff and leads, don’t need to commit to any minimum number of hours, and are not part of the Concom. You can let us know that you intend to volunteer to help out in the Con Suite now or at any point before or during the convention. Tasks will include keeping the Con Suite clean and ready for visitors, directing foot traffic, assuring that everyone in the space is wearing shoes, helping staff to portion and set out food, helping staff to reset the space between mealtimes, and other things.

What will you get out of stepping up to become Con Suite staff, or volunteering?

The most crucial reward will be that we will continue to have a Con Suite where you will enjoy spending time and eating! We’ve had wonderful feedback — and very very high demand — for the Con Suite over the past two years. That means that the WisCon community loved what our Con Suite lead, Julia, created so much that she is no longer able to keep up with it. As a community we need to make sure that she and her successors lead a team that is both large enough that no one has to spend the entire convention working and capable enough that they can all rely on each other.

If pride in a popular Con Suite isn’t the reward you’re looking for, we’ve got more! All staff are automatically eligible to opt for a WisCon membership rebate of 40% of your registration fee, meaning that if you register for WisCon as an adult, you can opt to receive $20 of your $50 membership back after the con ends. Volunteering? You can get the same rebate deal as long as you volunteer at least six hours and ask the Con Suite lead to confirm those hours (ask how at the Registration Desk!).

To apply to join Con Suite staff, contact: recruitment@wiscon.net

To let us know you plan to volunteer in the Con Suite, contact: volunteers@wiscon.net

*Wait! You aren’t male identified, or you aren’t white, and you want to join the Con Suite team? Fantastic! We want to have you on the team as well, and we’ll work with you to make sure that your Con Suite experience is a good one. We are optimistic that we will not see a repeat of the poor behavior toward the Con Suite team last year, but we also assure you that behavior is a violation of our Code of Conduct, and will not be tolerated if we see it again.

WisCon 40 — At-con volunteers needed

Kristin Livdahl
Volunteers

A purple badge holder that declares "I volunteered at WisCon"WisCon relies on volunteers for all aspects of convention-planning and to ensure a successful and enjoyable weekend for everyone. We still have a variety of volunteer shifts to fill in many departments and these volunteers are critical to our success.

Please contact us at volunteers@wiscon.net for more information on openings, if you have any questions, or to sign up.

Please consider joining us for a shift or more during the convention!

Volunteer positions listed by department

Children’s Programming — Needs 2 people each for Saturday and Sunday from 1-3:45 pm. A background check will be required.

Logistics — Looking for someone local to help with directing the movers for convention set up and tear down.

A/V — Could use a couple volunteers to help with set-up before major events, programming, and parties throughout the weekend.

Con Suite — This area is often understaffed. We need volunteers the entire time the Con Suite is open to provide hospitality to convention goers. We also have a need for a few more volunteers who are ServSafe certified or willing to become certified.

Art Show — This area is also often understaffed. Volunteers are needed to help with set up, tear down, sales, and during the show preview (on Friday night). We have a schedule set-up with lots of openings.

Access — Needs 1-2 people throughout the convention to set up blue tape (early mornings and before Opening Ceremonies, the Tiptree Auction, and the Dessert Salon).

Green Room — Needs volunteers throughout the convention as programming runs.

Registration — Is open almost the entire convention and needs volunteers throughout.

Safety — Various shifts open throughout the weekend. Training provided.

Tiptree Bakesale — Needs volunteers for 1-hour shifts from 11am-4pm on Saturday.

For volunteers interested a more serious time commitment with possible conversion to a ConCom position for Wiscon 41, the Gathering needs an at-con lead! The Gathering is the official start to WisCon — every year on Friday at 1pm sharp!  The Gathering is a fair full of fun, free activities.  This is the time and place to decompress from the rigors of travel, meet friends old and new, make the transition to WisCon space-time, and get into the WisCon frame of mind!

Most of our pre-con Gathering tasks have been handled already, so the remaining set-up will involve: bringing Gathering items out of Storage, making last-minute adjustments to layouts, and fielding donations (books, clothes, nail polish). During the Gathering itself, the at-con Gathering lead is available to give short breaks to volunteers who staff their tables.

This position will require the volunteer to be available on Friday morning and afternoon during the set-up and running of the Gathering itself. Pick-up after the Gathering usually cuts into the first Programming timeslot.”

Thank you!

All volunteers this year will receive a WisCon logo water bottle as a “thank you” gift. Volunteer six or more hours and you will be eligible to request a volunteer rebate.

We look forward to working with you!

Pre-Con / Concom

  • contact:  recruitment@wiscon.net

What in the world is “the Concom”?  It’s a word you’ll see thrown around WisCon on a regular basis, but what does it mean exactly?  “Concom” is short for the WisCon Convention Committee.  The WisCon convention is a project of the Society for the Furtherance & Study of Fantasy & Science Fiction (aka, SF3).  Projects of SF3 are assigned to a committee, and so the volunteers who plan and run WisCon are part of the convention committee.

Are you interested in stepping into the wings and joining the convention stage crew?  The Concom welcomes everyone who’s interested — whether you have convention-planning experience or not, whether you have knowledge in a specific area or not.  Some of our members came ready to share their knowledge of communications or nonprofit budgets or developing apps, and some of our members joined ready to just help out wherever we had a gap.  We can find a place for you!

You don’t even need to be local to Madison, save for a few particular jobs such as Logistics.  Most of our Concom members live elsewhere.  The Concom communicates regularly via a Google Group, meets monthly via a conference/internet call, and stores, organizes, and discusses files using Basecamp.

Concom work usually starts in the autumn with our first meeting in September, then gets busy in earnest in January.  We have a wrap-up meeting in June, and for the rest of the summer Concom obligations tend to be very light unless there’s an urgent ongoing situation.

If you’d like to make a general inquiry about joining the Concom, please contact us at the email above.  Or you can peruse our list of currently open postions.

All concom members get the volunteer “thank you” gift, and concom members who volunteer six hours or more and get their volunteer sheet signed by their department lead are eligible to request the volunteer rebate.

At-Con Volunteers

  • contact: volunteers@wiscon.net

WisCon is for the members, by the members.  Everyone who works on the convention is just a member who’s volunteering their time — and you could be, too!  Volunteering at the convention is a great way to experience another aspect of WisCon and to meet people.  Volunteer jobs range from helping at the Registration / Info Desk to prepping food in the Con Suite to walking a shift or two with Safety.

We usually start announcing at-con volunteer shifts in April and May.  Watch our blog and e-newsletter!  If you have questions, contact us at the email address above.

All volunteers get a “thank you” gift, and volunteers who work six hours or more and get their volunteer sheet signed by their department lead are eligible to request the volunteer rebate.

Volunteer Rebate

  • contact:  treasurer@sf3.org

WisCon is successful thanks to the work of our members — everyone who works six or more hours during the convention, presents a paper, appears on a panel, and or works on the planning committee in the months before WisCon is a volunteer. Our volunteers come from our community, and we’re all here at WisCon because we love it and we want it to succeed. But as a whole, WisCon and our parent organization, SF3, recognize that “free” labor is a burden that not everyone can afford.

In recognition of that fact, and to help make WisCon more affordable, we offer a rebate on the price of convention membership to our volunteers.

To qualify for a WisCon Volunteer Rebate, a volunteer must:

  • Serve on the WisCon Convention Committee; or
  • Participate in programming by appearing on a panel or presenting a paper; or
  • Volunteer for six hours during the convention, with all hours confirmed by the relevant Convention Committee Department Lead.

And:

  • Opt to receive the rebate using the form provided by WisCon’s Registration desk at the convention.

Rebates are disbursed within four weeks of the end of the convention, usually via PayPal. Disbursement via a mailed check is available upon request. The amount of the rebate may vary according to the financial status of the convention, but can be up to 40% of the price of an adult attending membership.

WisCon’s Volunteer Rebates are intended to increase affordability, and funds that are not disbursed go toward our overall efforts to keep costs low and to make the convention inclusive and affordable to all.

WisCon 40 concom recruitment

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

If it’s December, it must be… recruitment time for the WisCon Convention-Planning Committee.

The planning committee — most of the time shortened to “concom” — is the stage crew who push buttons, flip levers, and pull the ropes to make WisCon happen every Memorial Day weekend.

“What’s it take to join?”

Willingness to commit to doing a task. You can sign up for something that takes just a couple hours a month, something that largely happens only at the convention, or something that completely wraps up before the convention even starts. You don’t need to be local to Madison for most tasks. And even if you can’t make it to WisCon this year, you can still help out!

“Do I need experience?”

Not necessarily! It can be helpful to have been on a concom before, or to have skills that are relevant to what you’re interested in doing. But WisCon also has decades of experience in training new concom members to pick up a task and carry on.

“Are there meetings? I hate meetings.”

Our monthly meetings are definitely useful (especially closer to the convention), but they’re completely optional. If you’re local to Madison you can join the in-person contingent; if you’re elsewhere in the world you can join the meeting via phone. In between meetings we discuss things via a private Google Group, so regular access to a computer is helpful, as is the ability to respond to emails in a timely fashion.

“Why in the world would I want to join WisCon‘s concom??”

Ahhh. And that is a perfectly fair question. It’s one that I’ve been asked a few times, especially because I stepped into my communications role in the middle of the summer of 2014. So I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve been telling people these past 18 months — I joined because WisCon has been transformative for me, because I knew I had skills that would be useful to the concom and the convention, and because I found I was passionate to help. Which passion comes from one very simple idea: That by helping to build WisCon, I am, in a small but noticeable way, helping to build the sort of world that I want to live in.

This is why the concom needs you. Because we need your skills, your passion, and, yes, sometimes we need your anger to help us build WisCon — to help us build a better WisCon.

As Alexandra Erin wrote last year: “Who runs WisCon? You do. WisCon is your con. It’s run by you, for you.”

WisCon is your con — backstage and out front. Consider joining us on the stage crew.

Our list of open positions this year ranges from a Parties Coordinator, to Access, to editing, to Logistics (the stage crew of the stage crew). If you have questions or if you’re interested in any positions, contact us at recruitment@wiscon.net.

 

(PS: Oh, and the deep dark secret of the concom is… It’s fun to be part of the planning. You meet a group of tremendous, dedicated people who, the next thing you know it, are some of your closest friends.)