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How many people do you know who would willingly pick up trash for ten to twelve hours straight for zero compensation?


Now let’s take this one step further. How many people do you know who would willingly pick up trash for no pay at a concert or county fair? Even more unlikely, right? Because everyone’s human and there’s this little voice in the back of their head after the first hour (if they make it that far) that says, “My back hurts! This is really hard/boring/tedious/fill-in-the-blank-with-a-word-that-conjures-negative-experiences-here. This is not what I signed up for. And I’m not even getting paid for this. I think everything looks good right now. Oh, look! I love this band! I’m just going to dance a little bit. No one will notice. I’m hungry. Maybe I’ll just take a break and get a little bite.” And before you know it, enough time has lapsed that even though they did commit to this hard, boring, tedious, fill-in-the-blank-with-a-word-that-conjures-negative-experiences-here…SQUIRREL!!!!


Well, as professional event cleaners, three times now clients have told us that they are going to save money on cleaning by opting for volunteers. And each time they have really regretted it. At one star-studded musical charity function, the volunteers spent about thirty minutes bussing trash after two hours of setting up the trash cans, and then the rest of the time dancing to the concert and gawking at the celebrities. At a 2000 person street fair, we supplied only three cleaners because we were told there would be 10 volunteers, only once those volunteers saw our staff in their official shirts with CLEANING CREW printed on the back, they decided they didn’t need to do their part since we were there, leaving our cleaners to frenetically do four times the work.

And in each case, it wound up costing the client more than they budgeted for, they were unhappy, and the event site was much dirtier than desired. Just imagine if you went to the county fair and there was no one to pick up the trash.

It’s tempting to think that volunteers are a way to solve the issue of an expense that’s unglamorous and seems like something you should get cheap and skimp on. But there’s a reason why cleaning is a profession—and a business. Nobody wants to do it. And nobody wants to do it for someone else for free whether it’s for one hour or ten.

If you are planning an event and budget is a concern, particularly for a charity event where you want the bulk of the proceeds to go to the charity, then first determine what the house nut is (meaning, your fixed costs of cleaning, traffic control, food, talent), and then add on what you hope to raise and set the ticket prices from there. Trying to set prices and then go out and find out how much things actually cost is a recipe for going over budget.

Volunteers can be great for smaller, more fixed tasks—collecting tickets at the front, ushering people to their seats, helping set up—but when it comes to the more arduous and duller tasks like cleaning, directing traffic, serving food, and security, professionals are the way to go.

PopUP CleanUP provides trained professional cleaners for pre, live, and post event cleaning and setup and breakdown.

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