The Value of Volunteers

Sports Clubs and Governing Bodies rely heavily on volunteers for administration, coaching and other essential tasks. Sports Council research in 1995 found that the value of volunteers' services was over 1.5 billion. Volunteers traditionally provide support free of charge (apart from claiming expenses) for the love of their sport. Indeed, many clubs and governing bodies would be hard pressed to remunerate them on a fully paid basis.

For further information on the payment of volunteers, please read the following information sheet:

If you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact the Legal Team Tel: 023 8060 4223 Email:

Key Principles

There are a number of key principles that underpin volunteering within the RYA and affiliated clubs.

  • Volunteers are seen as an essential, unique and invaluable part of the RYA and affiliated clubs, which complement and support the work of employed staff.
  • Volunteers are a key group of individuals within the organisation and are represented at all levels of decision making, from clubs to RYA Council.
  • The RYA, and affiliated clubs will ensure that all volunteers are properly integrated into the organisational structure and expects that staff, at all levels will work positively with volunteers and will actively seek to involve them in the work of the club or organisation.
  • The RYA, and affiliated clubs recognise that volunteers require satisfying work and personal development and will seek to help volunteers meet these needs as well as providing the induction and training for them to do their work effectively and safely

Volunteers, the Club and Employment Law

One area that potentially affects sailing clubs is the relationship between the club and individual volunteers and how this should be managed in a way that does not create a contract of employment with the associated (employee) rights and (employer) responsibilities and liabilities.

To raise awareness of the potential risks, provide guidance and to stimulate discussion within clubs the RYA has prepared the information sheet entitled Volunteers, the Club and Employment Law and Considerations for a Volunteer Policy. Also a recommended read is the document Volunteers and The Lawcreated by Volunteering England.

The RYA want to ensure that this topic is raised and discussed within clubs in the right context, as it is likely that many clubs will have relationships with their volunteers that will cause little or no concern.

If after reading the information sheet, there are any areas you want to discuss or seek further guidance, please email

Funding for Club Volunteers

Asking people to give up their time, can be tricky enough, but to then expect them to pay to attend courses or obtain qualifications in order to assist at your club or centre is often asking just that little bit too much.

Putting these courses on ‘in-house’ and keeping the costs to an absolute minimum is often a good way to show volunteers how much you value their gift of time and effort. In this way, training and developing your volunteers is also a way to recognise and reward them.

Subsidising the cost of courses, or ultimately paying for the course or qualification is a great investment in the volunteers, who will ‘more often than not’ pay you back with their time, several times over.

There are a number of funding bodies that may be able to assist with the costs of providing training and development opportunities to club volunteers.

Grants to Support Clubs & Volunteering

Sport England

    has a range of different funding options, but the ‘Small Grants’ (£300 to £10,000) is particularly suited to funding clubs and volunteering activities.

County Sport Partnerships (CSP) often have funding to support club volunteering and club development. Contact your CSP to see what it has to offer. Funding amounts vary. 

The Cash4 Clubs website brings together a range of funding opportunities that clubs can access for all aspects of club development, equipment, and volunteering. Individuals may also apply for certain funding. Grants range from £250 to £1000. 

Good luck with your search, and please do not hesitate to contact RYA Volunteering if you have any further questions regarding any issue affecting volunteers.

Working Successfully with Volunteers

When working with volunteers there are four aspects to consider; Retention, Recognition, Recruitment and Roles. For full information on these key four area, please see the documents below.

  1. Retention
  2. Recognition
  3. Recruitment
  4. Roles

Volunteer Support for Accessible Sailing

Supporting your volunteers is essential. Having the right people to do the right jobs is essential for the smooth running of sailing sessions and most clubs do rely heavily on volunteers for on water based and on shore activities. Taking this into consideration we have produced a series of information sheets listed below and a structured learning scheme to help with managing your club volunteers.Volunteer Support

RYA Sailability offer a free Volunteer Training Resource to Accredited sites called 'Volunteer Logbook Scheme' This resource offers each volunteer a logbook to work through different levels of development with a clear syllabus to follow. It has been designed to compliment personal progression as a valued member of the group and to provide structured learning to support volunteers as they develop skills both on and off the water. A nominated administrator at the club distributes of book, certificates and rewards, until the volunteer reaches Gold or Platinum levels which are requested from head office. For your starter pack please email requesting Volunteer Logbook Scheme starter pack.

It is ideal that volunteers helping with activities for disabled sailors have some awareness about disabilities. With this in mind Sailability have a Disability Awareness Training scheme available to clubs and their volunteers, helping to change attitudes and awareness throughout the sailing community. 

Volunteer Information sheets
1.Who volunteers and why
2.What do you need volunteers for
3.What benefits can you offer
4.Finding volunteers
5.Finding disabled volunteers
6.Overcoming barriers - culture
7.Overcoming barriers - physical
8.Recruiting and training
9.Supporting and keeping
10.Health and safety
11.Being a volunteer
12.Benefits and payments
13.Employment legislation

Criminal Records Checks

If you have volunteers or staff who regularly teach, train or supervise children and young people under 18 or vulnerable adults and you wish to ask them to apply for criminal records checks through the RYA, please see the RYA website for information on the DBS (England and Wales) PVG (Scotland) or AccessNI (Northern Ireland) processes.