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Creating a positive volunteer experience

Volunteers are a crucial part of every athletics and running club. It’s important that we value their contributions, offer help and advice when required, and continue to create a positive volunteering experience for all. 

“Volunteer experience is defined by the interactions and experiences your volunteer has with your club throughout the entire volunteer journey, from first contact to becoming a happy and loyal volunteer”​

Benefits

  • If your club volunteers are enjoying themselves, there’s a good chance they’ll tell their friends and family about the fantastic work your club is doing. This can be of significant benefit when it comes to recruiting even more volunteers in the future.  
  • If a potential volunteer sees a welcoming environment during their first visit to your club, there’s a high probability they’ll want to join such a positive atmosphere and volunteer at your club. 
  • A positive volunteering culture within your club will enhance the volunteering experience, ensuring that everyone who volunteers at the club feels valued meaning they are more likely to continue volunteering. 
  • Volunteers will feel supported and have the confidence and knowledge to undertake their roles to the best of their ability resulting in the smooth running of the club. 
  • Volunteers who enjoy their role will ultimately impact the experience of your athletes and runners.  

Key Ideas

  • Reflect and review your volunteering culture; listing the positive and negative aspects of your club volunteering culture. Volunteering culture is shaped by club members and the volunteers themselves. It encompasses the values, behaviours, beliefs and ways of working at a club.

  • Have a regular agenda item on volunteer experience at your committee meetings.

  • Consider appointing a volunteer coordinator or a small group of volunteer coordinators. Their specific role is to make sure a strong volunteering culture exists within the club.

  • Build a culture of recognition in your club. Club members can have a big impact on a volunteer’s experience. Encourage club members who benefit from a volunteer to thank them.

  • Reasons for volunteering may change over time. Keep checking in on volunteers to ask how they’re getting on in their role.

  • Make sure that you give them tasks they’ll enjoy and that they understand what they’re making a difference.

  • Provide opportunities for individuals to volunteer with those with whom they share common ground and interests.

  • Hold events so that volunteers can socialise with one another. This social aspect is very important.

  • Give new volunteers buddies that know the club and the surrounding area so they can support the volunteer in their new roles.

  • Ensure the volunteer is happy with the role you have in mind for them. Give them all the support and training they need to carry out this role.

Questions

Yes No
Does your club provide a volunteer induction?
Great. Hopefully this has enabled your volunteers to feel part of the club and they are really clear on how the club operates and what their role is.
Not having an induction can leave volunteers not feeling part of the club, unsure about their role and what to do if they have a concern. Using a volunteer checklist will help you carry out an induction which in turn will make volunteers feel welcome.
Does your club provide clear role descriptions for new and existing volunteers?
Great. Hopefully your volunteers are clear on their role and how they contribute to the club.
A barrier to volunteering is unclear expectations. Providing role descriptions will help volunteers understand what the role entails, time required and what’s expected of them.
Does your club recognise and address volunteering cliques within your club?
Great. Not having cliques will ensure a collaborative and welcoming volunteering experience for all.
Cliques can make other volunteers feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. Implementing the volunteer code of conduct can help avoid conflict.
Does your club provide opportunities for volunteers to access wider training?
Great. Encouraging volunteers to share what they have learnt will promote a sharing culture across the club.
Volunteers may not get involved as they fear they won’t have the necessary skills to be able to perform the role assigned to them. Providing training opportunities will help volunteers feel supported.
Does your club have a flexible approach to volunteering?
Great, hopefully you will have recruited many volunteers for short term projects and events. Every little helps!
Time is often a barrier to volunteering. Consider a ‘task not roles’ approach, or small project teams whereby it allows for short-term commitment
Does your club actively promote volunteering?
Great. Hopefully volunteers will seek the club out rather than the other way around. You hopefully won’t have to make any last minute requests for support.
There may be the assumption that those who run the club are paid or that no extra help is needed. If information about getting involved is unclear, volunteers don’t readily step forward. Promoting volunteering opportunities via your social media, website and through award schemes can help raise the profile
Does your club engage with your volunteers and keep them up to date?
Great. Hopefully communicating with your volunteers has provided many benefits such as new ideas, further support for club tasks and generally a good feel in the club.
Providing volunteers with regular updates will make them feel part of the club. You might want to consider asking for opinions on changes or developments within the club.
Does your club nurture a sense of pride and rewards for volunteers?
Great. Hopefully you’re seeing the benefits to recognising volunteers and they feel proud being a volunteer and share it with others.
Recognising volunteers for their contribution will help them feel valued. If others see this, they might also want to get involved. Consider an awards night for volunteers, recognise significant achievements or use social media to celebrate volunteers.

Bitesize Videos

Play Video

Volunteering principles

03:11
Play Video

Top tips for creating positive experience

00:58
Play Video

Clubmatters Volunteering recruitment

06:10

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