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Finding and Keeping Your Volunteers

As a club you are probably looking for ways to attract and retain people to give their time to help your club. Here are a few ideas to help you on your way.

The role of welcoming, helping and looking after new volunteers is a very important part of any club.

If you are new to the role and are just getting used to what overseeing volunteers in a club means, we recommend you take our free Workforce Co-ordinator course via the IOS Online.

Finding new volunteers

When recruiting remember to clearly outline the opportunities at your club and provide clear role definitions - the Good Club Guides can help for the major positions. This shows volunteers the role they will play and helps them visualise themselves carrying it out.

'Join In' is a nationwide initiative encouraging more people to celebrate their local sports clubs - click here to find out more about hosting a 'Join In' event.You also need to identify opportunities for recruiting volunteers. If you need someone to update a website consider placing a poster in a local college, for example. Or you could think outside the box, as Tom Baster, Essex County workforce development co-ordinator, has done in working with his local 6th form college to recruit students. The video at the top of this page is an example of Rossington Swiming Club and how they have managed to involve their older swimmers as volunteers.

Remember to use effective recruitment methods. Advertise in an event programme or the local press. You can also use press releases to attract volunteers. And remember to post vacancies on the www.do-it.org website through your local bureau. Alternatively you can go into your nearest Volunteer Centre which will be able to offer opportunities to people interested in aquatics within your community.

You could also host a Join In event to encourage people from your community to lend a hand at your local club - click here for more information and ideas on our Join In page.

Making people feel welcome

The impact of a poor induction should not be underestimated. Most volunteers leave an organisation in the first six months and it is the first 60 days that they make the key decision to leave. Induction programmes need to comprehensive and reflect volunteers’ value.

So, ensure you provide them with key information, set standards to show what is expected, offer support, and empower volunteers to take responsibility. Also arrange for someone to act as a mentor or buddy until they feel confident in their role.

At Beckenham Swimming Club they have found shadowing to be an effective form of retention. The club’s Jackie Bedford explains: “We had problems with people leaving the club and not being able to fill their spot. We have since filled the positions and adopted a strategy of having new recruits shadow us and help in the running of the club. This has proved very successful,” she says.

We all want to feel valued

Finally, one of the most effective tools you have to retain volunteers is one of the simplest, saying ‘thank you’. Most say they do not expect it, but they will always appreciate it. Whether face-to-face, in a phone call or in a card after an event, a thank you means a lot.

The ASA has written their own volunteer policy to help volunteers understand what they can expect when they volunteer for the ASA and are aware what they are committing themselves to.  Is this something your club volunteers would like to see?

Ensuring volunteers feel their opinion counts is just as important. Here are a few questions you can ask them to ensure they feel their views are being taken into account.

  • Are you enjoying yourself in the role?
  • What are the good points/ not so good points?
  • Is the role what you expected it to be? If not, why not?
  • Would you like to take on anything else?
  • Is there any training you would like to get involved in?
  • What else, if anything, would help you in your role?

For more advice on the recruitment and retention of volunteers and other aspects of being a workforce co-ordinator, download the Good Club Guide for the role mentioned above by clicking here.

Also there is free guidance from the former Disability Rights Commission offering advice on attracting and retaining disabled volunteers.  ‘Recruiting, Retaining and Developing Disabled Volunteers’ is available on the Volunteering England website

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