The San Diego Film Festival closed on Sunday night with the screening of Grassroot, a movie based on the true story of an underdog candidate nearly winning the city council race in Seattle in 2001. Aside from the obvious reference to the political importance of November, the movie could also be seen as a homage to the army of San Diego Film Festival volunteers who made the festival possible.
The candidacy of Grant Cogswell made history thanks to the support of energetic, young volunteers who carried out an amazing grassroots campaign that nearly won him a seat on the city council. Similarly, the San Diego Film Festival relied heavily on volunteers who did everything from carrying boxes of water, to serving VIPs, to interviewing film directors and, most importantly, serving as the face of the festival for most of the attendees.
Contrary to the anarchic organization of the volunteers in the movie (the movie is set in 2001), the Festival staff utilized all the opportunities offered to them by the advancement of the internet to make the Festival run as smoothly as possible. Instead of the archaic management tools often used by non-profit and other organizations, the SDFF opted for an efficient online program.
San Diego Film Festival volunteers were able to log on to the website and read a detailed description of every position’s required skills. This maximized participation by allowing people would could not attend the training session to volunteer for the festival. The icon “help wanted” indicated which days volunteers were needed and for which positions. With the Festival actualizing in two different locations, an online management tool was ideal to coordinate the different teams of volunteers.
The user-friendly online tools were appreciated by both volunteers and the festival organizers. Because volunteers were able to schedule their shifts in accordance to their other obligations, the festival’s staff had a clear idea of who will would be doing what, where, and when.
These kinds of online tools can make life easier for a non-profit, political candidates or any organization that requires volunteers if they just take a leap of faith in the 2.0 world.