General FAQ

These are General FAQ's about volunteering at SXSW. You can also view the Conference FAQ orProduction FAQ for more information.

NOTE: For the purposes of SXSW, the abbreviation "ACC" stands for "Austin Convention Center" and NOT "Austin Community College."

How do I register to volunteer?

Visit the Register page to learn more about the Volunteer Calls and registration process or click here for more information about how to apply as an Out of Town Volunteer.

What is the Volunteer Call?

The 2015 SXSW Volunteer Calls will be held at the Austin Convention Center (500 E Caesar Chavez) on Saturday, January 17, 3:00PM - 5:00PM, and Tuesday, January 27, 6:00PM - 9:00PM.

During this time, you will check in, watch a brief introductory video and select your crews.

Conference Volunteers may sign-up for no more than 3 Conference Crews, and will typically start building their schedule at the calls. Production Volunteers will have an opportunity to talk with the SXSW Staff and Crew Chiefs, and sign-up for ONE crew.

All local volunteers wishing to volunteer for SXSWedu or SXSW, new and returning, must attend a volunteer call in order to complete the registration process. If you are unable to attend one of the calls, or if the volunteer calls have already passed, you will need to contact a volunteer coordinator for more information.

NOTE: Many crews will fill up very quickly. We encourage you to attend the first volunteer call (Saturday, January 17, 3:00PM - 5:00PM) to have a wider selection of crews and schedule.

Click here to learn more about the volunteer calls and the registration process.

I'm a returning volunteer. Why do I need to fill out a new registration this year?

In 2012, we introduced a new volunteer database system and have done away with our old system. We are starting fresh to make sure we have the most up to date information and volunteers. We will be double-checking records from the old database for any history that we may need to transfer over. If you volunteered last year, use your record from last year. If not, create a new one.

We will be cross-checking for several years.

I'm a returning SXSW Volunteer. Do I need to go to a volunteer call?

YES. We need to know if you plan to volunteer for 2015, and this is the time when we mark you as a current volunteer and approve your registration. If you are not able to attend one of the volunteer calls, please contact a volunteer coordinator.

Visit the Register Page to learn more about the volunteer calls and the registration process.

I'm a returning Conference Volunteer, but now my crew is listed as a Production Crew. What happened?

We've made some changes to our crew structure to allow for more standardized shifts, individualized training as well as having continuity with some of the more specialized crews. Moving some of the Conference Crews to Production Crews will allow for better utilization of the volunteers throughout the event.

Is there a minimum age requirement to volunteer?

Conference Volunteers must be at least 16 years years of age in order to volunteer. Those volunteers under the age of 18 must have consent from a parent or legal guardian to volunteer for SXSW.

Production Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, and preferably over 21.

If I volunteer, do I get to go see shows for free?

The perks you earn as a SXSW Volunteer will allow you free admission into most events associated with your perk. However, our volunteers are expected to put in a lot of time during the event. You may not get to see everything you want. We depend on all volunteers to show up on time and ready to work for all their scheduled shifts. We don't take kindly to no-shows, aka "flakes."

If you're the type who wants to see it all and do it all during SXSWedu and SXSWeek, we strongly recommend that you buy a badge.

What kind of perks can I earn?

SXSW Volunteers can earn a variety of perks depending on the number of hours or shifts that are worked on either a Conference or Production Crew. Visit the Perks page for more information on each perk.

Can I work all of my volunteer hours prior to the event?

No. Volunteer work prior to the event is minimal, and reserved for returning volunteers only. Volunteers working toward a SXSWedu Badge must work half their conference hours or 1 production shift during SXSWedu. The volunteer's remaining schedule can be worked during SXSW. Returning volunteers may be able to work a portion of their schedule during SXSWedu while earning a music wristband or Volunteer IA/Film/Gold/Music/Platinum Badge. Crews have limited shifts during SXSWedu and cannot guarantee shifts for those not earning SXSWedu Badge.

I don't care about earning a perk. Can I just volunteer for a few hours?

Sorry, but no. All volunteers must work a minimum number of hours or shifts. The size and scope of this event requires appropriate training for all involved. The crews can only run smoothly when the volunteers have been oriented in advance, and have committed a minimum amount of time to particular crews.

What is the difference between a Conference Volunteer and a Production Volunteer?

Conference Volunteers may work on up to 3 of the 20+ Conference Crews that operate throughout SXSWedu and the 10 days of SXSW. Conference Volunteers can accumulate hours to earn a perks to attend SXSWedu or SXSW events.

Click here for more Conference Volunteer information.

Production Volunteers work on only one crew. They work a minimum number of shifts on one crew in order to earn either a Volunteer SXSWedu, Gold, Music, or Platinum badge. Production Volunteers are not eligible for the Volunteer Interactive and Film Badges, or the music wristband.

Click here for more Production Volunteer information.

Can I work on both a Conference Crew AND a Production Crew?

No, sorry. You must choose one or the other.

Can I earn a SXSW perk AND a SXSWedu Badge?

Yes, but you must work the required hours/shifts independently of each other. Please contact a volunteer coordinator for assistance.

I don't live in Austin. Can I still volunteer for SXSW?

We accept a limited number of Out-Of-Town (OOT) Volunteers. OOT Volunteers are not expected to attend the Volunteer Call. However, volunteers must follow the OOT Volunteer registration process to be eligible to volunteer.

OOT Volunteers are responsible for all of their own travel and lodging arrangements, and must be in Austin no later than 6:00pm on Thursday, March 12 for Conference and Production Volunteers, or Monday, March 16 for those Production Volunteers working on crews that only operate during SXSW Music.

OOT Volunteer registration must be complete with valid travel and lodging information in order for you volunteer registration to be accepted.

More information for OOT Volunteers can be found here.

What mandatory meetings do I have to attend?

All Conference Volunteers are required to attend one mandatory pre-event meeting as well as the Conference Crew Walk-thru (Optional for Out of Town Volunteers)

All Production Volunteers are required to attend 2 mandatory pre-event meetings as well as the Production Meeting (Optional for Out of Town Volunteers)

What good is having the badge if I'm going to be working the whole time?

If you want to volunteer for SXSW, you should know that you will not get to see everything you want. Your priority will be volunteering for the event, not attending it. However, volunteering IS fun and you will enjoy your perk when not working a volunteer shift.