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Volunteers

Recruiting volunteers for your club is the most effective when the people responsible understand why people volunteer and what they gain by volunteering. 

The NSW Government has produced a range of marketing materials that can be downloaded and used to help recruit volunteers, including a set of six A6 postcards and three posters.

The materials highlight volunteers in action, with the key message ‘U CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE – Finding a volunteering opportunity is now easier’.

The materials direct the audience to the NSW Volunteering website where people interested in volunteering can search available volunteering opportunities, and organisations can advertise to fill vacancies.

Changes in volunteer involvement suggest that volunteering may be becoming more peripheral and short-term. This can lead to a decrease in the time and capacity that volunteers are able to offer, which is likely to have a flow-on effects for the provision of sport participation opportunities.

Studies show that volunteers are most often rewarded by personal satisfaction and social contact. They are also motivated by the chance to help others in the community, to be with friends or to do something worthwhile. 

New volunteers might quickly lose interest if these needs are not being met, so anyone who is working with the volunteers needs to remember that they need to: 

  • feel they are valued
  • feel they are helping the community
  • make friends
  • feel satisfied.

Recruiting volunteers is most effective if a specific person from within the organisation is made the Volunteer Coordinator, who can take responsibility for the whole process. Any new volunteers can be sent to this person, who knows the most about where the organisation needs the new recruit's help. 

This person is responsible for finding and training volunteers and keeping the volunteer program running. This responsibility is often a part time responsibility, a few hours per week. It could be part of a paid position, or a volunteer position itself. 

Once a person asks about volunteering, the Volunteer Coordinator should be ready to talk about the possible jobs that can be matched to the volunteer's skills. Selection and screening help make sure that the most appropriate volunteers are appointed to the positions available. 

Before looking for volunteers, the Volunteer Coordinator should make sure they have all necessary forms, strategies and processes in place. 

Volunteers will often be put off if the job descriptions are not ready, if people are unclear about where they could use volunteers or if there are no processes for smooth entry into the position. It's worth taking a few minutes to prepare.

When all your preparations for volunteer induction are in place, consider how you can be more proactive in the space of volunteer recruitment by using opportunities such as social events, presentations, forums, your own website and social media, to reach new audiences and advise them of any roles that may be available or tasks that may you may need assistance with.

Think about:

  • How many volunteers you need and what they are needed for.
  • Which jobs can be done by volunteers and which need to be done by paid staff.
  • The skills already in the organisation - ask around with workers, members and volunteers and see what skills they already have to offer.
  • Roles and responsibilities of volunteers.
  • Roles and responsibilities of the organisation.
  • How you can arrange training of staff and volunteers?
  • What ongoing daily support that can be provided?
  • What kind of recognition strategies are/or can be in place to support your volunteers?

Even though volunteers work for free, they cost a lot to recruit and train. They are essential to the smooth running of many community organisations. It makes sense to recognise their contribution to hold onto them, inspire other volunteers and because, importantly, they deserve it.

It is important to find the right way to recognise a volunteer's contribution. This is because some volunteers value different ways of being recognised more than others.

A helpful starting point is to know why the volunteer is working for the organisation. If they are volunteering because they are hoping for paid employment, they will value the chance to receive training or a referee or mentor for inclusion in their resume.

a.    Premier's Volunteer Recognition Program 
The Premier's Volunteer Recognition Program recognises the contribution volunteers make towards strengthening our communities.

The Premier launched the program in 2015, and since then more than 13,000 volunteers have been recognised across NSW under the program.

Recognition certificates are produced for presentation before the end of the year. In most instances, the local Member of Parliament presents certificates. 

For more information: www.volunteering.nsw.gov.au

b.    Sport NSW Community Sports Awards. 
The NSW Community Sports Awards are focused on community and grass roots sport, recognising the contributions largely carried out by a volunteer workforce. Administered by Sport NSW, volunteers are recognised across ten categories such as Community Official of the Year, Young Official of the Year and Community Coach of the Year.
 
For more information: www.sportnsw.com.au/home 

c.    National Volunteer Week
The #Good2GiveBack initiative aims to provide an insight into why it is volunteers do what they do while also providing examples of how sport clubs approach recruitment and retention.

In the lead up to, and beyond, National Volunteer Week, the Office of Sport posts stories from different sports and forms of active recreation, demonstrating the creative ways that clubs make sure those who give back get out what they put in.

Whether it's the feeling and sense of community it gives or the opportunities to acquire knowledge and skill it represents, there's many reasons to take up a role at your local association or club.

For more information: https://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/get-involved/nvw/ 

Your state or national body is a good first port of call, however there are also many useful volunteer resources available:

Disclaimer: As with any resource, this does not replace obtaining legal advice on each sport specific requirement and it is recommended you do so. The information provided in this resource is for your information only.  The authors and the NSW Office of Sport accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the information or your reliance upon it.

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