Volunteers are the lifeblood of sport. From coaches to referees, committee members to those who help maintain our facilities, volunteers do it all. A volunteer is someone who freely offers to give their time to work for the benefit of the game without any financial reward. Below are some ideas to help improve your club’s volunteer management practices.
Your recruitment messages need to be tailored to reach the intended target audiences. Think about age, education, gender, income, etc. It is important that your club knows what skills are required for the positions that need filling. Some proven ways to find volunteers include:
- Develop job descriptions outlining what is expected
- Putting the call out in the local newsletter
- Letting people know what training and rewards are on offer
- Promote virtual opportunities with tasks that can be completed online and at home
- Engage with your local volunteer organisation
- Using online registration forms
- Target students looking for experience to put on their CVs
- Asking someone if you think they fit the role
Now that your club has found volunteers, the next challenge is keeping them. When people put their hand up they want to know that they are going to be looked after. It is important to ask them what they need in terms of support, training, etc. Some proven ways to keep volunteers include:
- Providing a welcome pack and induction
- Ensuring a mentor is available for them to seek advice from
- Staying in touch and making sure they know what is going on at the club
- Offering training opportunities such as coaching modules, first aid courses, etc.
- Surveying your volunteers to get their thoughts
An important way to encourage your volunteers to remain with your club is to give them meaningful rewards. To be effective this needs to be consistent and ongoing as people can quickly lose motivation if they feel their work is not valued. Some proven ways to reward volunteers include:
- Just saying “thanks”
- Offering a reduced membership for your volunteers and their family
- Providing volunteers with club merchandise (e.g. jacket, t-shirt, cap)
- Throwing an end of season party
- Providing vouchers or free tickets to a game
Having a volunteer section on your website / Facebook page or on the wall at the clubrooms displaying the profiles of your volunteers. These people are your community, acknowledge and appreciate them.
Volunteerism is known to build capacity, engage the community and can empower people to achieve great things. Recent research has proven that clubs with a strong volunteer presence have been found to be in a better financial position than clubs without. Therefore, we need to pay more attention to volunteers and build an effective programme for ongoing management of our most valuable assets.
For more ideas about how you can look after people who form the backbone of your club click here.