Retention of volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of sport and recreation. Recognising the work they do can make a big difference to how volunteers feel about the club/organization they are involved in as well as their volunteer experience.

Here’s some tips on effective ways to show  you appreciate the work of your volunteers that will also contribute to a long term strategy for volunteer retention.

Make a good first impression

The induction process can have a big impact on how much a volunteer feels connected to and part of your club/organisation. Taking time to plan a welcoming induction is likely to get the relationship off to a good start.

Ask for feedback

Talk to volunteers about their concerns and suggestions. Tell them what you will do with the information and report back on any changes you make as a result. Incorporating their feedback into decision making demonstrates their views are respected and their ideas are valued.

Be inclusive

Include volunteers in key meetings where appropriate such as club planning days/special projects eg. Country trips, training, celebrations and events. Treat volunteers as part of the team and encourage them to participate in decisions.

Keep them in the loop

Make sure volunteers are kept up to date with happenings at the club / organisation – from changes on the committee, achievements, updates to programs or services.

Give them meaningful work

Make sure you know what volunteers want out of the experience and that you are continuing to provide it. Ensure their skills are matched to the role to keep them interested and engaged.

Offer professional development

Enabling people to grow in their role helps people feel satisfied and valued. Provide opportunities for volunteers to take on extra responsibilities and a career path for volunteers who want to move between different roles. Strategies such as providing mentoring or helping with CV writing assist volunteers to develop their skills and feel more confident in taking on different roles.

Give feedback

Take note of how people are performing in their roles. Point out what they are doing well and offer constructive help to do their best.

Demonstrate impact

Point out how the work volunteers do contributes to the larger goals or achievements of the organisation.

Celebrate their achievements

Organise regular chances to recognise the work of individual volunteers as well as the entire team. Use the event to give awards and celebrate milestones.

Set up a recognition program

This is a way of orienting your organisation, your committee and other key people to regularly and consistently recognise and promote the work of volunteers. Tailor your recognition to match the volunteer to make it most effective such as setting up coaching awards/various volunteer categories eg. Administration, game day operations, canteen, promotions/marketing.

Offer incentives such as reimbursing costs of completing required training such as coach and officials accreditation, responsible serving of alcohol, working with children checks.