Volunteers are a major asset and if properly managed, can make a huge contribution to the success and sustainability of your club. Some clubs are successful in attracting volunteers, but the real success story will be in supporting the volunteers to fulfill their roles to the best of their ability – and retaining their services each season.
This is where the role of Volunteer Co-ordinator becomes a vital one for the club. Not every role within the club will be glamorous and some are labour intensive, so volunteers want to feel appreciated. The Volunteer Co-ordinator is effectively a coach managing a team of backroom staff who may never set foot on a pitch, but work hard behind the scenes to ensure matches are played each week.
The key to managing volunteers is good leadership. An effective leader will be able to inspire, direct and guide volunteers in their roles.
If the recruitment process has been undertaken properly, volunteers will have a clear idea about the responsibilities associated with their new role. It is sensible to have an induction period to ease new volunteers into their role with a handover where necessary. Volunteers should be made to feel needed, useful, part of the team, welcome and thanked for their efforts.
The Volunteer Co-ordinator and club committee should make a point of seeking out volunteers regularly to check how they are finding their role. Motivation is key to ensuring a good job is done, especially when a volunteer is giving their time for free. You should consider as new roles are undertaken, whether the volunteer would find training useful and discuss this with them offering options to help their role.
The Volunteer Co-ordinator could look at having a regular informal chat with each volunteer to give an opportunity for them to seek support and provide feedback. This will also provide a chance to develop the volunteer if they could improve upon their role, but this should always be handled diplomatically rather than pointing out omissions.
Rewarding your volunteers for their hard work is key to retaining their services, but will also help raise the profile of volunteering within your club. Think how you reward players at an end-of-season presentation evening, and consider if this is an appropriate time to say thank you to your volunteers. Consider what gestures you could make to honour all the time they have committed.
Communicating the work of volunteers and the importance of their role within your club can help to identify new members willing to offer their time. There will always be a natural turnover of volunteers as many are parents of players who may leave the club, so it is vital to ensure you backfill roles. By promoting volunteering in your club’s communications and recognising contributions at matches and social events, you will raise the profile of the importance of volunteering.