Once you’ve recruited volunteers, it’s important not to take their contributions for granted. Ensuring they have a positive experience and want to continue to give their time is really important.
Key to this is establishing positive relationships with your volunteers through regular communication and appreciation. Check out our 'Meaningful volunteer experience guide' here for more information on how to ensure people have a great experience as a volunteer at your club.
1. Communicate Regularly
Setting aside some time to communicate with, and more importantly, listen to your volunteers is vital.
Regular communication provides you with the opportunity to:
- Keep them updated on news and developments- this will ensure that they feel more connected to your club
- Provide them with the opportunity to raise any concerns, issues or ask questions
- Revise roles to ensure they are still relevant and valuable
- Enable them to share what they enjoy about their role, and areas they perhaps would like to review or develop, or new experiences they would like to try
- Listen to any ideas they may have on how they would like to fulfil the role, encourage creativity, or how the experience could be improved. It’s important they have an opportunity to share their opinions or their concerns.
- Enable you to continually improve how volunteers are supported.
- Social media. Facebook or Twitter (or other Social Media sites) can be great ways to keep your volunteers updated, as well as interacting with them on a range of topics
- WhatsApp- setting up a group chat will allow you to communicate quickly and consistently with all your volunteers, whilst enabling them to interact with each other, which can help build a feeling of being part of a team
- Meetings. Informal meetings, as a group or individually will give volunteers a chance to ask any questions they may have, provide feedback on the volunteering experience and suggest new ideas or ways of working
- E-mail. The majority of volunteers will have email addresses so this is a great way to keep them updated and help them stay in touch with each other
- Social events. This is a great way to informally engage with your volunteers and participants. It is a great place for them to meet other volunteers, and it's fun too!
2. Involve them in decision-making
Involving volunteers in decision-making, especially in areas which affect them, can be really advantageous. Consider inviting them to attend Committee meetings, or to be members of working groups, if appropriate, or you can simply ask them what they think.
3. Show how they are making a difference
Let your volunteers know that they are making a difference! Whether they are coaching the youth team on a regular basis, maintaining the pitch to a decent quality, or serving the teas in the club house once a month, every volunteer, no matter how much time they give, plays an instrumental role in allowing the club to function. Volunteers like to feel that they have had an impact, so make sure they know! As well as thanks, always share any member survey results, fundraising achievements or community recognition awards.
4.Recognise their contribution
As simple as it may sound, thanking volunteers for their time and effort is often forgotten about or overlooked in sports clubs, and is unfortunately, one of the main reasons why sports volunteers quit.
- Volunteer award evenings- end of season events, or to coincide with National Volunteers’ Week, are a great opportunity to recognise the hard work and commitment of your volunteers
- Regular recognition and appreciation of volunteers in newsletters, or other club communications- this can be either as individuals, teams of volunteers (ie all the club’s coaches or officials), or all the volunteers collectively
- Recognising a ‘Volunteer of the Week/Month’ through social media platforms. You could use or adapt our Volunteer of the Month template for a quick and easy way to recognise your volunteers on a regular basis.
- Personal thank-you letters/emails- either from someone who has benefited from the volunteering, or perhaps from someone in a leadership position
- Regular ‘shout-outs’ or claps at activity sessions- this is often most impactful coming from the participants who have benefitted from the volunteers’ efforts, as Parkrun volunteers experience at the beginning of every run with a round of applause from the runners
5. Make It Fun!
Volunteers want the time they give to be enjoyable! Think about how you can make being part of your volunteering team fun and exciting. This might be through social opportunities so volunteers can stay more connected and work better as a team, or through a WhatsApp group to help volunteers feel supported and that they are part of a fun group of people. Evidence shows that those who enjoy their volunteering, have met more people or made friends through volunteering, keep giving their time for longer.
6. Offer them the chance to develop
Demonstrating commitment to the development of your volunteers can lead to a greater sense of engagement and value by the volunteer.