Comments on the 2005 
Volunteer to Sustain Cape Cod

Page 3




Comments on the 2005 Volunteer to Sustain Cape Cod Expo


Page 1:    Opening    Reception,   Grille 16


Page 2: CD Launch, Hyport Brewery; Breakfast, Four Points Sheraton; Training Sessions


Page 3:  Volunteer to Sustain Cape Cod Expo; Expo  Participation 


Page 4:  Expo Generally


Community Reaction to the "Joint Venture Cape Cod" Proposal


Volunteer to Sustain Cape Cod Expo


The general reaction was that the place looked great, the event was well organized and professionally coordinated (Chip and Jane Bishop Communications), that there was a real opportunity for nonprofit exhibitors to introduce themselves to each other, and that fewer people attended than had been the hope.

There are several possible factors to explore further regarding the desired level of attendance.  One is the fact that we did not publish and distribute widely a newspaper insert about the event as we did the first year. The insert would have provided a more fucused explanation about the event that would have been a boost in the days just prior. We'll look again at the cost considerations that weighed in the decision this year.

A second explanation has to do with what time to open the doors to the public.  By waiting until noon so that exhibitors could attend the morning training sessions, we likely lost many people who either went to work or went on about their day rather than attending the Expo.

A third reason has to do with how the exhibitors themselves might help us communicate more widely that the showcasing of the Cape's nonprofits is taking place. We'll look for input from the exhibitors about how we might connect their extended networks.

We'll also look closely at how to weigh attendance as a priority. The actual goal of the Expo is to connect volunteers to organizations, which is not necessarily a goal measured by the number attending. The more specific measure is the number of connections actually made, and we are trying to collect this information from the exhibitors and to track the success of these connections in the next weeks and months.

The feedback from the Expo's event sponsors has been positive, and we are starting discussions to determine how we can build this event and realize the goals mentioned above. The Four Points Sheraton has been a wonderful sponsor and is interested to have us return again. We're considering how we can best do so while also starting to host events in the upper and lower Cape regions that would be more accessible for organizations and residents located there.

The Cape Cod Times has been very supportive as well, and we continue to work with them to figure out how we can best communicate and track volunteer opportunities across the wide expanse of the Cape region. Doing so presents some administrative and operations expectations for the Center for Sustainability and its volunteer center program that require that we find a way to expand our capacity.

Citizens Bank, the Cape Cod Five, NSTAR, Stop'n Shop, Wise Living, Keyspan, eCape,, WOCN, the Cape and Islands United Way, the Orleans Rotary, the Hyport Brewery, and the Cape Cod Melody Tent were very supportive as sponsors and in-kind contributors. We are already at work with them to assess how we might best proceed given their perspective and experience.

Lastly, we received contact information from more than 250 people who attended the event. We will ask them for their assessments as we continue our effort to get feedback and specific suggestions about how we can achieve our two goals of showcasing the Cape's nonprofit enterprises and connecting volunteers to their specific programs. --ARL

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Expo Participation 


"We were able to talk to about three serious volunteers during the afternoon, and if all three were to join, I would call it a successful afternoon.

"Although there were not a lot of people that appeared to be looking for volunteer opportunities (our perception), we did a lot of networking with other booth members, and I found that very valuable as I made contact with several agencies that may be good partners to our organization." 


*     *     *

"Overall attendance (including exhibitors, workshops, walk-ins), estimated at 500 to 600 this time, appeared to be about half of last year's. Nonetheless, as one exhibitor expressed it, 'This year we had quality volunteers, not quantity.'  If numbers are a concern, there were probably several factors at play this year: gorgeous weather versus  steady rain last year, no Cape Cod Times supplement this time around, no morning Expo, which brought out lots of seniors last year, no organized high school effort this year; and the novelty of a volunteer Expo having worn off a bit.  Most exhibitors I spoke with (and I cruised the floor several times) were quite pleased with the steady attendance all afternoon. Fewer but better volunteer sign-ups. Better exhibit layout (no high walls in the center)." 

*     *     *

"I want to thank you for thinking of our program and allowing us to be present at the Expo. We did get a few bites, but it was just great to get the exposure. Everyone who stopped by now knows about our program and what we do, and they can now pass that information on to anyone they know who might be helped by it." 

*     *     *

"I thought it was great. It certainly provided an opportunity to network with other organizations. My preparations had been so focused on the volunteer aspect that I hadn't taken time to consider the networking opportunity. That was certainly a bonus. We didn't meet as many potential volunteers as we had hoped, but those we did speak with and sign up are very interested and should be good, reliable volunteers."

*     *     *

"And I just heard from one exhibitor's board president, that the organization got four new volunteers on Tuesday, and she is thrilled with the Expo!  As is another organization that signed up five new volunteers. I was a little concerned that with the lower attendance, the Expo might not be seen as successful, but the goal is to match volunteers with nonprofits, and if that's happening, then the lower attendance doesn't matter!"

*     *     *

"Generally exhibitors felt that there were far fewer attendees, but those there were there were more focused on being volunteers.  Most did not get a large number of connected volunteers from last year."




"My only suggestion for next year would be to try to figure out how to get more people to the Expo.  It’s a great resource for the community, and it would be great if everyone on the Cape attended!  Perhaps holding the Expo on a weekend would increase attendance?" 

*     *     *

"My suggestion is to follow on your suggestion, regionalize to Upper and Lower Cape. Perhaps the Sheraton in Eastham or The Gestalt Center in Wellfleet, the Seacrest in Falmouth maybe."

*     *     *

"I heard comments that the turnout was less than last year – but I also wondered if this kind of event needs to be annual considering that many organizations felt that it was hard to take a day away from their activities without high returns. . . . 

"Maybe this should be every other year, since I suspect the volunteer market doesn’t change dramatically year to year.  Considering the limited time and/or resources available to the Cape Cod Center for Sustainability, I wonder if one year is the Expo with booths and the alternate year is just the Cape Cod Times insert (maybe it runs once in April and once in May when more snow birds are back?).

"Alternate year or other:  A full-day conference with a mixture of general sessions and more skills-based programs.  Perhaps it is jointly sponsored with the Cape Cod Foundation since they already do this too. . . . I just think there is some overlap of programs, and knowing that nonprofits are so small, I think perhaps consolidating and coordinating programs and/or conferences would be critical [that is, others that had programs scheduled last week were the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Cod Foundation (at Stonehill for board of directors), the Arts Foundation, and so on].  Perhaps a bi- or tri-annual meeting of Cape Cod’s 'umbrella organizations' would be a good thing to host – if just for the coordination, scheduling, and sharing?  This might naturally fit into the '“joint-venture' concept."

*     *     *

"I do feel it would be better attended if on a weekend."

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"We attended the Expo for the first time this year, and we felt that the event was professionally run and looked great.  However, I didn’t feel that there were many people interested in volunteering.  Can we figure out a way to reach more people with idle time and nothing to do?"

*     *     *

"One suggestion is schedule the Expo in March (mid to late March). Perhaps at that time of year it wouldn't be competing with beautiful weather and could draw a larger audience."

*     *     *

"The turnout seemed very low.  The exhibitors I spoke to found the networking among nonprofits valuable, but they didn’t see many candidates.  I wonder if it would be easier to run, less expense, and higher turnout if it were combined with the Rotary’s Home Show?"


*     *     *

"Our thoughts are:  very very slow attendance (I went last year so was expecting more of the same).  All other things were good: the setup, our location, the half-day as opposed to the full day with the workshops being separated out. We had only four people sign up, but several more took our information. Last year I was nonstop answering questions, collecting potential volunteers, and so on.  It was really nice to talk to other exhibitors and learn about their organizations, but we were all there to find volunteers so it was an expensive and time-consuming way just to network with other like-minded folks . . . . 

"The insert in the paper would have cost $7,000 . . . , but that was (I think) an important missing element. Could the Times underwrite part of that cost in exchange for their free booth for Village Green and really good press?  If not, would they be willing to deliver an insert when they deliver the newspaper to stores, newspaper outlets, and so on if the labor cost to insert the section into the paper is the issue? This is such a worthwhile event, and I would hate to see it not be successful next year and/or not continue."

*     *     *

"Not having the special section in the Cape Cod Times was a major blow for attendance."

*     *     *

"As a means of getting volunteers, it was less effective for my group.  Fewer than ten people signed up to volunteer with us.  More people took our newsletter, however, and we hope to get some volunteers as well as new members from this distribution of our materials.  According to my staff, last year a higher number of potential volunteers attended the Expo, including area high school students."

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More comments will be posted as they accumulate.  


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September 09, 2005