Clubs often rely on a core group of individuals to shoulder the majority of its volunteering needs. It can be easier and quicker to ask someone who can be relied on to say ‘yes’ to do something, rather than try and find someone new to put their hand up to support the club.
However, the consequence of this is often that too few are doing too much, which can lead to feelings of being taken for granted and overworked. It’s important to think broadly about who you can engage, and how you can encourage new people to want to be part of your volunteer team and to make a difference in their community.
There are many ways to attract potential new volunteers. Try to use a mixture of ideas to attract different groups of people and use them at different times of the year to improve your chances of success. Some ideas you may want to think about include:
- Allow people to try it out – offering taster sessions for volunteering roles can be more appealing for people who like to ‘try before they buy’. This can alleviate any fears people have about the role.
- Bring a friend - encourage existing members or volunteers to introduce a friend to the club and identify possible areas they would be keen to help out with.
- Embed volunteering within the club’s culture - show how supporting each other is what makes your club a great community. One way to do this is to communicate at the enrolment of members the importance of everyone playing their part to making the club successful. Don’t forget to highlight the positive benefits to the volunteers and the club of people pulling together
- Parental engagement - remind parents when they sign up their children that the club relies on volunteers to function. Asking parents at the point of registration (perhaps through the membership form) how many times they will help out a season and what they would be interested in doing can be an effective way of engaging new volunteers
- Create a rota - ask members/ parents when they can help out and what they would like to do. Often if people know in advance their help is required for a small, ad hoc task, they can build it into their plans and they are happy to step up
- Use events - think about how you can use events such as club regattas or open days to engage new volunteers. By giving their time to support the club once, they may be more receptive to doing so again, and it provides you with an opportunity to communicate with a new pool of potential helper
- Survey your members - think about how you can build questions into a club survey which helps identify members’ willingness to give some time to support the club, and what they might be interested in doing.
- Be open to offers - you may be surprised what talents and experience people may bring and offer to do for you that don’t fit neatly into a role but would be useful for your club- don’t be confined by preconceptions of what a volunteer in sport does. From plumbers, to electricians, caterers to website developers, the skills needed by a club are many and varied!