One of the major challenges highlighted in our survey of Australian sports clubs is balance in maintaining professionalism whilst keeping costs down. In other words, clubs were looking for tips on how to recruit, retain and train volunteers for their clubs.
Being that volunteering is such a multi levelled subject, we will split this it over a couple of posts, starting with volunteer recruitment. However, before we jump into some useful tips on volunteer recruiting we first need to understand what a volunteer actually is and why people would want to volunteer.
What defines a volunteer?
Volunteering Australia defines a volunteer as ‘a person who chooses to contribute their time, skills and experience, for no payment (other than reimbursement for out- of-pocket expenses), to benefit the community’.
An important notion in volunteering is freedom of choice. People who feel obligated or coerced into volunteering may not be as willing to contribute their time, skills or experience as someone who freely chooses to become a volunteer.
Recruitment is the process of attracting new volunteers to sport and recreation organisations. An important question to ask is ‘Why do people want to volunteer for our organisation?’ Understanding why people want to volunteer is a prefect place to start when trying to recruit volunteers.
Here’s 5 tips for recruiting new volunteers
1. Value diversity in your recruitment process
Valuing diversity allows you to recruit from a larger pool of potential volunteers. By not being restricted to a certain demographic, sport and recreation organisations are able to recruit from the whole community, using the unique skills and abilities of individual volunteers. In essence, valuing diversity helps create an environment that nurtures the multicultural fabric of the community within sport and recreation organisations.
2. Have personal a personal contact with your volunteers
When recruiting volunteers for the first time, it is important to know something about how they first become involved in organisations. Personal contact with potential volunteers, whether through friends, family or individuals already involved in an organisation are among the most frequently cited ways that volunteers first became involved in voluntary work.
3. Don’t be shy to ask
Some volunteers seek volunteer opportunities but relatively few volunteers are recruited through advertising or publicity. Clearly, people need to be asked to volunteer if an organisation is going to be successful in recruiting volunteers. Few people come to organisations seeking voluntary work opportunities. Most people join sport and recreation organisations to participate in leisure activities, and in the early stages of their involvement, they may appear uninterested in volunteering.
4. Be clear about the volunteers role
Once asked, the recruitment process should provide potential volunteers with a realistic preview of what a job entails. Volunteers need to know the size and nature of the task ahead of them before deciding to commit their time and energy to a position. This is where an adequately prepared job description is very helpful. Details should include things like meeting times, major tasks and average weekly or monthly time commitment for the position. Benefits and conditions need to be clearly specified so applicants are in a position to make an informed decision about whether a job might suit their skills, experience and availability.
5. Emphasise the benefits to the volunteer rather than the needs of the organisation
When recruiting volunteers it is important to emphasise the benefits for volunteers rather than the needs of the organisation. Many volunteers give up their leisure time to help sporting organisations and may not be attracted by ‘work-like’ recruitment campaigns. Volunteers need to feel valued by sport and recreation organisations and not feels as though they are being recruited to fill a position no one else wanted.
Now here’s a 12 part volunteer recruitment and selection checklist that you can use when approaching potential volunteers:
- Appoint volunteer coordinator (someone that will handle the new volunteers)
- Prepare projections for human resource needs
- Conduct a job analysis
- Prepare a job description
- Develop a recruitment plan
- Implement recruitment plan
- Screen applications and select (shortlist) volunteers to be interviewed
- Conduct interviews and select successful volunteers
- Where appropriate check volunteers’ references
- Important: For volunteers who will have close contact with children there may be statutory requirements under child protection legislation to run a criminal history check or for the applicant to provide a written declaration that they are not a ‘prohibited’ person
- Notify successful volunteers and set up a time for orientation
- Notify unsuccessful volunteers
Have a broad reach when looking for potential volunteers to recruit. Make sure that you are clear and concise when going through the volunteers job description and expectations. Try to understand where the volunteer is coming from and what makes them want to volunteer for your club. Make the volunteering process about benefiting the volunteer rather than benefiting your organisation. The most important thing to remember is to be assertive and don’t be afraid to ask the question. The greatest number of people who end up volunteering were asked by the club/organisation.
Did you catch last weeks blog? Would you like some more useful tips and tricks to help grow your club? Visit the article ’10 rules for attracting sponsors’ to help attract and retain sponsorship for your club.
Don’t forget, if you need any information about our latest range of Spartan products and prices or if you would like some more useful tips and tricks about clubs, visit our club sports home page or give us a call on 1300 785 605.
Reference and further reading