“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead, Social Activist & Cultural Anthropologist
Hey! Thanks for signing up to be a HeadCount volunteer! HeadCount is a nonpartisan organization that inspires participation in democracy through the power of music. Since 2004, we have registered more than 325,000 voters and helped the music community become more politically and socially conscious.
Our core belief is that the music community can make the world a better place if we are all active, informed and vocal. At HeadCount, we try to bring out that potential in all of us – by registering voters, creating a great experience for our volunteers and making it easy for music fans to have a positive impact on society. In an era where voting rights are under attack and young people are accused of being apathetic, we aim to be a beacon of hope and positivity. We prove that being a good citizen can be fun!
Volunteering with HeadCount is enjoyable and rewarding, but also requires you to be smart and responsible. Please take a few minutes to read through this brief manual to familiarize yourself with the policies and expectations for HeadCount volunteers. If you have any questions, please contact our Outreach Director at [email protected]
Signing Up for Shows:
- Go to www.HeadCount.org and click the “Volunteer Now” link. Enter your email and password address to login to your volunteer profile. Next, click the “Volunteer!” link at the top and filter for upcoming shows in your metro area or state. Then just click volunteer next to the shows of your choice, and they will be added to your Upcoming Shows list.
- The Team Leader (TL) for that show will contact you with details. Be aware that popular events tend to fill up quickly and we cannot always accommodate every volunteer. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t get picked the first time, because there will always be a need for good volunteers. If you don’t hear from your TL at all, please email [email protected]
- When selected for a show, the TL will tell you when and where to meet your team. Keep in mind this will generally be 1-2 hours prior to the time doors open for the show. In some cases, this can be as early as 4 or 5 o’clock. If you are late, the team may have to enter the venue without you and you’ll be shutout.
- When you are confirmed for an event, “Confirmed” will appear next to the show on your profile. Once you are “Confirmed,” we’re counting on you. If something comes up, please email your TL immediately so another volunteer can take your place.
- If all volunteer spots for a show have been filled, your status will show as “Waitlist” or “Not Confirmed.”
- HeadCount will send you emails periodically letting you know about upcoming HeadCount events in your area, but you should check the website frequently for new events so you can get in on them before others!
Getting to the show:
- Make sure you know the location of the show and how to get there. Allow extra time for traffic [there’s ALWAYS traffic].
- The most important thing to bring with you is the TL’s phone number. You should have received your TL’s phone number when they confirmed you as a volunteer.
- Wondering what to wear? Be sure to dress in comfortable shoes! If you have one, wear your HeadCount T-shirt. If you don’t, one will be provided for you at the show, so pick something that will be easy to change into your new shirt! If there is rain or cold on the horizon, be sure to bring weather-appropriate gear.
- After entering the venue, your Team Leader will provide a detailed training on our materials and the best way to approach people.
- For a local concert, you will be asked to work from the time the doors open until the headlining artists’ s final set of music begins. If it’s a two-set show, you may be able to see some of the headliner’s opening set, but one person must stay at the booth at all times. However, it is very important to return to the booth before the set break, so that you are available during the entire set break. You will be asked to assist in the “Break Down” process once our booth or table shuts down.
- For festival shows, volunteers will generally be scheduled in shifts. At festivals, you will probably be required to work two (2) three-hour shifts per day. You will also be asked to help with setting up the booth and breaking down the booth.
- You should be friendly and polite to everyone. But if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, it’s OK to smile and walk away. Especially if someone you talk to is overly flirtatious or makes you physically uncomfortable in any way, it’s OK to say, “Have a great night” and move on to the next person.
AT THE SHOWS
- Approach fans by asking, “Are you registered to vote at your current address?” If they say “no” then register them on the spot (see instructions below). If they say “Yes”, or once they have completed their registration, ask them to sign a “Pledge to Vote”.
- All people who register to vote should be offered a “Thank You” card, with our contact information should they have any questions.
- We often have an action people can take beyond just voter registration. Your Team Leader will tell you all about those activities when you arrive at the show for training.
- Ask people if they are interested in volunteering, and sign our volunteer signup sheet. This is very important; especially if it’s someone who you think would be a good addition to the team. If they want to learn more, tell them why YOU volunteer and what you are enjoying about it.
Watch over someone filling out a voter registration form to make sure they fill it out neatly and correctly. Consult the sticker on the inside of your clipboard for specific instructions for each state, or the Voter Guide, which is kept at the HeadCount table for specific instructions for each state.
- Make sure they check the boxes indicating they are 18 years old and a U.S. citizen. (Note: If they are not yet 18 but will be 18 by the next election they can still register and check the box). Ask them to include a phone number, so that they can be contacted if there is a problem.
- Make sure people enter their correct Date of Birth.
- “ID Number” means drivers license number in most states. A few states require a full social security number. If someone doesn’t have an in-state driver’s license, they can use the last four digits of their social security number. Verify ID Number requirements on the “Cheat Sheet” that is underneath the paperwork on your clipboard.
- Make sure people fill in the correct date and sign the form.
- Once the form is complete, hand the person a “Thank You for Registering” card [which your TL will have] and tell them to contact us with any questions. If you are “canvassing,” meaning you are walking around the venue away from the HeadCount booth or table, be sure to bring a stack of “Thank You For Registering Cards” with you.
TOP 10 WAYS TO BE A GREAT VOLUNTEER
10 – BE ON TIME:
The HeadCount volunteer experience begins before the doors open for a concert. It is important that you arrive well before the concertgoers, sometimes several hours before the music begins. If your plans change and you can’t be there on time, alert your Team Leader immediately. And remember to account for traffic. Concerts and traffic jams go together like guitar and bass.
“Plan to leave the house 1/2 to an hour earlier than you think you have to!!! Don’t take this advice for granted believe me, the people that work at these venues will respect you so much more (and will usually do more for you) if you are on-time and not acting all crazy & rushed when you arrive. Represent Headcount professionally.” – Michelle Rodriquez, San Francisco, CA
9 – BE AWARE:
Your eyes and your brain are your most important tools when volunteering for HeadCount. If you see something that doesn’t look quite right or could be done better, chances are you’re onto something. So talk to your Team Leader and help step things up! Along those lines, don’t leave the booth unattended and make sure beverages, trash or personal items stay off the table. A clean and professional-looking tables set the right tone.
8 – USE YOUR CLIPBOARDS:
Use your two clipboards as billboards. Always keep them in your hands and visible. This is especially helpful when the venue is too loud or if you are trying to get someone’s attention from afar. Always have the clipboard facing out with the “Register to Vote Now” visible. It’s a lot more exciting than the paper-work on the other side of the clipboard. Once you start chatting with someone, actually hand them the clipboard and have them hold it as you speak. It’s a little psychology – people are far more likely to engage and register to vote if they already have the clipboard in their hands.
7 – TALK TO EVERYONE:
Our goal is to engage everyone, especially the people who might not be motivated enough to approach the HeadCount table on their own. That means we approach and engage with people rather than wait for them to come to us. Take the clipboard and talk to people waiting in lines, i.e. food, beer, restrooms, etc. People don’t like waiting so why not give them an option to pass the time by registering to vote. If anyone is lingering by the table make sure you chat with them, some people are shy and might just be waiting for you to come to them. If they hem and haw, use the line “There’ll never be a time when it’s more convenient to register to vote.”
“When registering potential voters, ASK EVERYONE. You never know who might not be registered based on appearance or age. This will also drastically help your numbers. Don’t be shy!” – Brian Bavosa, New York, NY
6 – FIND YOUR “SWEET SPOT”:
Every concert and every venue is different. Look or areas where there are lots of people [but no so many that you’re lost in the crowd, or they are rushing by quickly to get somewhere else]. If you aren’t having any luck, try another spot. Make sure you can be seen and heard. Also, mix it up a bit with your opening lines. Instead of saying “Are you registered to vote at your current address?” try “Are you up to date on your voter registration?” Or come up with a line that suits your personality and what you find works best. Some volunteers ask “Are you familiar with HeadCount?” or “Is this you first time seeing (band name)?” and then follow with “well (band name has invited us here to help their fans register to vote.” Try different things until something starts to click. Another great approach is offering a compliment (see tip number 1).
5 – BE A RESOURCE:
You are out there to help and be a positive member of the community. If you see an opportunity to help, either your fellow volunteer, a concertgoer, or anyone else, take it!
“It’s always good to get the lay of the land, particularly where the restrooms are, because people often ask for directions when they see a clipboard.” – Shari Smith, New York, NY
4 – BE THOROUGH:
When registering voters it is important to be extremely accurate. Even the smallest mistake on a form can mean a voter registration form is rejected. Talk through the steps of filling out the form with the registrant emphasizing the places where people make common mistakes. Refer to the cheat sheet on your clipboard, the voter guide at the table, or your Team Leader if you have any questions and remember to check that the application is legible.
3 – SHAKE IT OFF:
If People are nasty, shake it off. It’s not personal, politics can frustrate people. Stay inspired, stay upbeat and chill. Keep trying. A positive, non-confrontational attitude will get you the best results. We guarantee it! And, why let some jerk’s bad mood bring you down? Remember you are the empowering people (and saving them a trip from going to the DMV)! If there is an issue or you feel uncomfortable about any aspect of HeadCount volunteer experience, please address it with your Team Leader or member of HeadCount’s central leadership. You can always reach the HeadCount Executive Director at [email protected] and our Outreach Director at [email protected]
“Be prepared for the apathetic and cynical who challenge our mission. It’s not uncommon for people to say they don’t believe in voting or that voting doesn’t make a difference. While it’s not likely that you can change their minds, how our volunteers respond to these people can make an impression on others who might want to register or sign up as a volunteer.” – Dan Conroe, Chicago, IL
2 – BE YOURSELF:
Your personality, body language and the energy you give off is going to have a huge impact on how people react to you and how many new voters you inspire. So bring your authentic self to every interaction. Smile. Make eye contact. Talk to people in the way you’d talk to a friend. They’ll feel it and respond positively.
1 – HAVE FUN:
Great energy in contagious. Voter registration is serious a business but having fun is important too. Smile! (we can’t stress that enough.) Crack jokes. Offer an unsolicited compliment. Talk about the band that’s playing and your favorite songs. Your fellow volunteers and concertgoers will feel off your good vibes.
“Something as simple as ‘I love your glasses!’ or ‘cool shirt, Dude!’ can really pull people in. Concertgoers these days spend a lot of time on their look or their outfit before a show, so they’re immediately grateful that someone took the time to notice. This work LIKE CLOCKWORK and is a great segue to talk about HeadCount”. – Drew Hackney, Asheville, NC
It’s awesome that you want to make the country a better place by ensuring that live music fans have a voice! This is important and you are making it happen. Please show pride in what we’ve accomplished and respect for the work of others by maintaining professionalism at all times. You are representing HeadCount with EVERY action or inaction you take.