Getting Grassroots Using Volunteer Management

Creative South

Columbus , GA
United States
Georgia US

Creative South started four years ago as a grassroots event, and is now one of the premier art and design events in the Southeast. Creative South prides itself in nurturing personal design conversations with the creative community at all levels, offering educational workshops, music and entertainment. Creative South exposes creative and marketing professionals, business people, and students to key speakers on the subject of branding and design in the digital era. It’s a showcase of cutting-edge design and arts trends, but served up on a Southern tablecloth.

Creative South hired Sandy Ellingson of the knIT Group to plan and manage their event. Sandy knew she needed to to select a platform to manage the event, one on which she could set up registration and charge a fee. Creative South wanted to be inclusive of aspiring artists and bootstrap creatives, so they opted to offer a discounted registration rate to volunteers. This pool of volunteers, all incentivized to show up and work, offered the added bonus of bringing down the cost of the event--if Sandy could utilize them efficiently. 

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On Wordpress

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The promise of this project was having an event that was grassroots. By matching interested registrants with volunteer roles, Creative South was able to attract young talent while keeping the price down for other registrants. Among CiviCRM’s many useful extensions is the ability to manage volunteers, which Sandy put to use.


The biggest challenge was logistics. With 60 volunteers working 6 different venues, making sure everyone was assigned to a coordinator and reporting to where they needed to be took planning.

Although new to CiviCRM, Sandy deployed the Volunteer extension in effective ways; Sandy assigned each volunteer a role name with two leading letters indicating to what location they'd serve, and created a relationship in the Contact record between the volunteer and the supervisor assigned to them. 

Why did this project use CiviCRM?

The full features of CiviCRM were appealing. While Sandy needs were mostly the Events module, CiviCRM meant Creative South would be able to follow up with participants via email after the conference was over. Sandy considered a custom implementation in Wordpress or Drupal, but decided against it because of maintenance needs. She also eliminated EventBrite because of the monthly fee and the history maintenance. Sandy was new to CiviCRM, but impressed by how easy it was for even first-time users to learn.