As promised this month I want to talk about volunteers. Volunteers carry out almost 80% of the administration functions within the sport and recreation sector, probably more within worship groups, making volunteers an integral part of the success of ANY community organisation.

WHY DO WE NEED VOLUNTEERS?

Volunteers offer a fresh perspective with new ideas on how clubs operate and function, new skills, abilities, energy and enthusiasm. It is with their help that we are able to sustain clubs and the future of our community organisations. There are three main ways in which volunteers may be used in your club:

  1. Fill formal committee positions: Make sure you have a committee with specific roles.

  2. Undertake specific tasks:  Formal committee members can’t be required to do everything, take the pressure off them by getting others to help out for a specific event, project, fundraising target etc.

  3. To develop and extend your club’s vision and goals: Increasingly, people are prepared to lend their professional expertise/advice to community group for which they have a passion.


I hear you yelling, I KNOW THIS! We know we need volunteers, but do you know WHY VOLUNTEERS NEED US? Volunteers get involved in community groups / organisations for a number of reasons: 

  1. To gain skills – job skills, communication skills, personal and professional development.

  2. To gain experience – they might be new to the workforce, the country or changing careers.

  3. To have fun!

  4. To meet new people!

  5. To feel part of a community.

  6. To pass on skills to others.

  7. To be challenged, experience something new or just to get them out of the house!

  8. To contribute and feel like they are making a difference and doing good.

Each person will have a different reason to get involved but they will all have similar needs to attracting them to work with your specific club. This includes flexible working conditions, easy to manage roles and great communication to be able to know what needs to be done and by when.


SO HOW DO WE MAKE IT EASY FOR VOLUNTEERS TO GET INVOLVED WITH US? We make sure volunteers know we have this covered! When asking for volunteers make sure you do the following:

  • List 'what's in it for them’. It may be something to add to their CV, training, meeting new people, personal satisfaction, helping a cause or learning new skills.

  • Think creatively about your volunteer roles. Divide tasks into 'projects' and think about which tasks could be done by which volunteers.

  • Make sure the role is clear and sounds interesting.

  • Be flexible about the timing of involvement.

  • Look for shorter periods of commitment – more project-based tasks.

  • Involve the volunteer in evaluating the program to improve and develop it.

BUT WHERE DO WE FIND THESE PEOPLE?

The best way of recruiting people is to have one of their friends ask them. Organise your members to each ask five people or ask your existing volunteers to approach their friends. (It's always nice to get a personal invitation!) If you have already tried this and still need more help, some recruitment options could include:

  1. Local newspaper volunteer listings.

  2. School newsletters.

  3. Senior citizens clubs.

  4. Places of worship and their newsletters.

  5. Posters on community bulletin boards at libraries, shops, community centres, sports clubs, university campuses.

  6. ‘Bring a Friend’ morning tea for current volunteers.

  7. Public recognition of your volunteers or a special announcement asking for help at an event.

  8. Stall at community events/festivals

  9. Your website and your Hall for Hire listing

  10. External websites like Go Volunteer or Our Community


Volunteers give their time and energy because they're committed to a cause. They come back because it's fun. You have to be able to deliver on both counts. It's important to show volunteers that a real value is placed on their work:

  • Show respect by talking to them, asking for feedback and suggestions.

  • Show recognition by thanking them openly and often. A phone call, letter or formal certificate of thanks after a big project or a milestone is important. 

  • Reward your volunteers by building a team spirit, perhaps a small gift or a social gathering to say thank you after a specific goal or project.

I couldn’t run any of my community venues or events without A LOT of volunteers. They are part of the reason I do it and why I love it! I would never look at doing anything without the support of likeminded volunteers and hope that these tips help you find more volunteers and have more fun with them!

Deb