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June 22, 2023

A week in the life of a volunteer coordinator | Part 3: Tabling events

Hello everyone! Welcome back to my series on the various projects you will look forward to as a Reading Partners AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator. Today, we’re going out into the field and doing some recruiting. A large part of the volunteer coordinator role is engaging with potential tutors and telling them about what we do at Reading Partners. One of the most direct ways to do this is through tabling: going to an event where people are specifically looking to join something new!

You may be asking, But where do I find these events? I’m not good at talking to people on the spot; what if someone asks me a question I don’t know the answer to? Those are all completely reasonable concerns, but I can assure you that with the help of the community engagement team, senior AmeriCorps members, and Reading Partners resources, you will be trained and ready for your first event.

americorps members gathered around a desk

The basics of tabling

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding tabling events is where to find them. The truth is, tabling events are everywhere! You can find them through our existing partnerships such as high schools, colleges, and service-learning agencies as well as on Eventbrite and Handshake job fairs. Anyone on the community engagement team can look for these events, and your manager may already have some lined up for you when you start serving! Part of working in community engagement is finding creative ways to engage with your community. Networking will be your greatest asset in finding new events to join. Making these connections helps me look forward to visiting partner sites at least once a month!

Your Reading Partners display is important to draw the attention of passers-by, but you may need less than you think. Some materials you might have at your regional office are a Reading Partners tablecloth (branded with our blue and orange book logo), some promotional materials such as hand sanitizers, stickers and lip balms, and (most importantly) your flyers, bookmarks, and postcards advertising volunteer and AmeriCorps opportunities. One of my favorite strategies at tabling events is to have one person standing in front of the table to hand out flyers to people at the event. Making your materials easily accessible will make folks more likely to take one and learn more about the organization. This strategy may work better at an event that anticipates people canvassing like a career fair, but not so much at a market.

an americorps member at a tabling event

Being prepared for common questions

When it comes to the questions that might be asked, you will have training on this before you head out into the field. Here are some of my best tips: 

  1. Know your Reading Partners facts such as tutoring commitment and why this work is so important (only 21% of students from low-income backgrounds can read proficiently, which means that 79% cannot!)
  2. Have a pitch ready that you can share in one minute or less to keep people engaged
  3. If you don’t know the answer to something, offer them a flyer or business card with your team’s contact information on it so they can follow up after the event. 

At tabling events, I like to start by asking people if they’ve heard our name before. From there, I know how much detail I need to get into to explain our mission. 

Here’s what I normally say: “Have you heard of Reading Partners before? We’re an education nonprofit that works with K-4th grade students to help them increase their literacy rate. Our work is possible because of thousands of community volunteers across the United States, would you like to sign up to learn more?” 

There will be people who want to do their own research first, in which case you can give them information to access the website. Other volunteers will be curious about how to get started, what the time commitment is, and where the schools are available. You will have all this information available once you have been trained!

an americorps member at a table event shaking the hand of a community member

After the tabling event

What happens once the tabling event is over depends on your schedule. If I have a little extra time after a tabling event, I like to canvass around the neighborhood or school campus (with permission) to further get the word out about Reading Partners. Canvassing can include hanging up flyers on coffee shop community boards, dropping off bookmarks to local booksellers, and asking restaurants if they have a space near their register for some postcards. If you are tabling during your regular service day, it’s best to pack up, give your thanks to the organizer, and head back to the office or reading center. If you are tabling for an extra hours opportunity on a weekend or after 5:00 PM, you can pack up and head back home! Just remember to keep track of your tabling resources if you don’t stop by the office first – we keep ours in a clear box, and recently upgraded to a more portable cube for easier carrying.

tabling event supply box

As you can see, there are a lot of exciting opportunities to reach out to your community during a tabling event. But when the end of the school year approaches, recruitment can shift from a focus on volunteer recruitment to the AmeriCorps members that will come after you. Stay tuned for my next blog which will focus on a volunteer coordinator’s role in recruiting future AmeriCorps cohort members.


Read the other blogs in this series here:


  • Logo for Accelerate
  • Logo for Five Below
  • Logo for Hellman Foundation
  • Logo for Bezos Family Foundation
  • Logo for George Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Logo for Panda Cares
  • Logo for The Duke Endowment
  • Logo for Deerbrook Charitable Trust

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