Volunteers make a huge contribution to sport worldwide. This labour of love goes unpaid, but as sport grows, the roles that are required to be fulfilled by volunteers have grown immensely. Unfortunately, the supply of volunteers has not followed suit!

Some of the reasons why people volunteer include:

  • Meeting new people
  • Passing on their skills to others
  • Contributing to the local community
  • Supporting family members involved in a sports organisation
  • Having fun
  • Leaving a legacy
  • Creating good karma

With people nowadays being time poor, there is a strain on their ability and commitment to volunteer. If they do volunteer, they are essentially looking for some structure. A plan needs to be developed and implemented in order to spread the workload. The plan should focus primarily on tasks that need to be performed, as well as recruiting and retaining volunteers.

The plan should cover off on the goals and objectives (i.e., tasks), the number of people required, and most importantly, the job descriptions for them. The plan should also outline strategies such as recruiting and retaining volunteers, where and when to look for volunteers, how to approach potential volunteers, a review process, and a program for recognising and rewarding volunteers.

Insurances and risks need to be articulated. Mitigating risks such as screening of volunteers and having a succession plan in place are important considerations.  Get them to sign a Code of Conduct so they know what is expected of them and are held accountable and the politics are minimised (one can only hope).

The appointment of a volunteer coordinator to drive the whole process is essential. This person does not have to be paid—you can look at having an intern or a retired person, as long as they’re keen to be involved and are a good fit for this critical role. They need to understand the importance of developing a task matrix and pulling job descriptions together.

I work on the premise that people make the organisation. Ask people what skills they have to offer and determine if those skills can benefit the sports organisation. You’ll be amazed at what you can get if you ask!