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Field Hockey Players

Volunteer Management for Sports Clubs

Volunteering is a common term in the community club network, but what does it actually mean and who are volunteers? Volunteering means individuals giving their time of their own free will and without coercion for no financial reward. Community clubs will have a number of different volunteer roles; including board or committee members, fundraisers, coaches. Plus, there is often an army of people who provide refreshments, undertake maintenance and promote the club more widely.

When talking about volunteering it is vital to consider it from both the perspective of the individual volunteering and the organisation receiving their support. For developing organisations a volunteer network provides access to individuals that have skills, expertise and a passion for supporting their local community. As this resource does not need to be paid there are obvious financial benefits from having a welldeveloped team of volunteers. The volunteer gets the opportunity to learn or develop new skills, make and establish friendships with others that share the same community values and contribute to the creation of a more sustainable community sports club. Volunteering can also provide excellent opportunities for work experience.

Developing a volunteering programme

A good place to start when considering developing the use of volunteers within your club is to develop a strategy of how volunteers will contribute to achieving the club’s goals. Volunteers will soon become disillusioned if there is no clear purpose for their support, so it is better to think what is needed to complete tasks before you start recruiting volunteers. For example, if you are seeking to raise funds, you will want volunteers able to organise or support the running of events, or if you wish to develop the youth section of the club you may need volunteer coaches, people to transport teams or people to provide refreshments. Having identified the roles and tasks, it is easier to attract individuals for certain activities.

Sport England recommend that clubs undertake an audit of their current volunteering programme which might include:

  • Volunteer numbers;

  • Diversity across your volunteers;

  • Skills your current volunteers have;

  • Policies and procedures that relate to volunteering, if any;

  • Current recruitment strategies and their effectiveness;

  • Systems you already have set up to support volunteers;

  • Training and development opportunities;

  • The current approach to thanks and recognition;

  • The current approach to managing volunteers who leave.

 

It is sensible to link a volunteer strategy with the club’s overall strategy and to review it regularly. It might also help to identify someone on the club’s board or management committee to take overall responsibility for volunteering, part of this role might include ensuring that the appropriate policies and procedures are in place. The recruitment of the right volunteers is an important process. Being clear about the tasks within the role and the expectations around time commitment will assist individuals to know if they are a good fit. In some cases having a role description for the volunteer will help avoid confusion over responsibilities.

What policies and procedures are required?

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) produces advice on setting up a volunteering policy. They say a policy should help define the role of volunteers within the organisation and how they can expect to be treated. The benefits of having a policy are that it can help to:

 

  • demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to its volunteer programme and its individual volunteers.

  • ensure consistency and that all volunteers are treated equally and fairly.

  • allow volunteers to know where they stand; it offers some security, in that they know how they can expect to be treated, and who to turn to if they feel things are going wrong.

  • ensure that paid staff, senior management and the board fully understand why volunteers are involved, and what role they have within the organisation.

The NCVO suggests a policy should cover:

 

  • Recruitment of volunteers, including equality and diversity; • Induction and training;

  • Expenses;

  • Supervision and support;

  • Health and safety;

  • Confidentiality and data protection;

  • Problem solving and complaint procedures for volunteers.

 

Some clubs will have a short policy that refers to other documents for more details. For example, a separate document might have more information on health and safety or safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. As with all policies and procedures it is recommended that the policy is reviewed regularly, at least annually, to ensure it remains fit for purpose and current.

Demonstrating the Impact of Volunteering

A number of community clubs collect data on the impact of volunteering. This can be as basic as just

counting the number of volunteers and the hours they contribute.

Collecting feedback from volunteers and understanding the impact volunteering has had on their lives provides evidence of the social impact the community club has, i.e. in helping people to tackle social isolation, or acquire skills and confidence.

Volunteering Top Tips

This is your Team section. It's a great place to introduce your team and talk about what makes it special, such as your culture and work philosophy. Don't be afraid to illustrate personality and character to help users connect with your team.

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