Volunteer recruitment

Volunteers are the lifeblood of athletics and running making up almost 100% of the ‘workforce’ across affiliated clubs. Recruiting volunteers is not an easy task and it is made even more challenging with big issues in wider society such as the recovery from COVID19 and the current financial crisis all having an impact on people’s willingness and ability to give up their free time.

This collection will help you to approach volunteer recruitment differently and use best practice from across athletics and running clubs, other sports and the wider volunteering sector.


  • People are less likely to give up their free time indefinitely
  • New volunteers gives the club new ideas and new skills
  • Having a larger pool of volunteers to lean on allows you to break up roles – volunteers are often overworked
  • The club can grow and develop – having more volunteers with a broader skill set gives your members a better experience and contributes to growth and success at your club

Key ideas

  • Plan ahead, spend some time identifying gaps in volunteering, define roles and tasks and the skills required. This will help you be specific in your promotion and will help potential volunteers decide whether to get involved or not.

  • Promote volunteering opportunities through your club website, newsletters and social media so that new and existing members can see the opportunities available. Make it easy for potential volunteers to get involved and know how to register their interested. 

  • When looking for more information or opportunities to volunteer the internet is the first port of call for lots of people.  Your online presence can play an important role in recruiting volunteers.  Consider how you promote volunteering roles and showcase your existing volunteers. 

  • Think about who you’re speaking to and what is likely to resonate with them. Some people prefer the term ‘helping out,’ or ‘lend a hand’ to ‘volunteering’, which can have longer-term connotations.  Others are more likely to respond to the request for ad-hoc/ one-off requests for help. 

  • Speaking to people direct  will help build their confidence and enables you to find out more about them, their motivations and skills, how much time they can give, what they want to be involved in, any training they might need, and if they would prefer interactive, people-facing tasks/roles or something behind the scenes. 

  • Consider offering taster sessions or shadowing existing volunteers to get a feel for the role/tasks.  This is a great opportunity to hook them in and provide a fun experience so they want to come back and help again.

  • Host a recruitment forum or evening for members or local community members to find out more about volunteering at your club so you can showcase your club and the volunteer roles and tasks that are available.  You might want to tie this into a club training night, event or social occasion.

  • You may be surprised what talents and experience people may bring and offer to do for you that don’t fit into a role but would be useful for your club- don’t be confined be preconceptions of what a volunteer in your club does. 

  • Be flexible and try to structure the role or tasks to fit in with the volunteers lifestyle i.e. can tasks be done from home and at times that are convenient to them.

  • Where possible focus on tasks rather than roles. This isn’t always possible for key management positions, but people are more likely to volunteer if they know exactly what is expected and it has a specific time commitment associated with it.

  • Don’t overlook some of your younger members and get them interested early. They are the volunteers of the future so giving them a positive experience early on could make all the difference.

  • Identify local community organisations who might help you recruit volunteers, or you can promote opportunities.  People volunteer to be part of the community and give them a sense of purpose.


Yes No
Do you have an individual (s) who is responsible for volunteer recruitment?
Great. Having an individual, or possibly more than one person can support the volunteering culture and recruitment in your club.
Consider appointing one or more people to take responsbility for the recruitment and retention of volunteers. An individual or group of volunteers who are personable, approachable and patient, with experience of the club or group, who can explain what volunteering means to them, can help win new recruits over and keep existing people coming back.
Do you ensure all your volunteers are recruited in line with best practice for safer recruitment ?
Great. This safeguards the club against any potential future complaints or issues with volunteers who may want to access club members for the wrong reasons or have a track record of causing issues with club environments.
Be clear on the process how people can start volunteering at your club club this will include any checks, self declaration and training requirements. The safer recruitment guide in the relaeted resource section will help you with this.
Do you get feedback from your current volunteers and wider membership?
Great. Understanding what your current volunteers and wider membership think and feel about the club will help you to make improvements that make new and existing volunteers feel more valued.
You should consider having regular opportunities for volunteers (and other clubs members) to feedback on key areas of the club. You can do this through club survey, focus groups, social polls and informal discussions.
Do you use a variety of methods to recruitment new volunteers?
Great. Having varied methods of recruitment broadens the pool of potential volunteers and also the skill set.
There is no one size fits all soluation to volunteer recruitment. Consider the different methods highlight in the key ideas section and think about all the opportunities audiences you can target including existing members / parents / wider community
Do you use internal club communication to raise the profile of your volunteers?
Great. Showcasing volunteers within your club will hopefully inspire others to get involved. It will also give them a better understanding of what your volunteers do and the impact they have.
You may be surprised to learn that according to Join In’s Making Time report, 55% of the public did not know that sports clubs are run by volunteers! Make it clear that your clubs relies on volunteers by showcasing and celebrating the good work of exisiting volunteers.

Bitesize videos

Related Resources

Related Training

Related Collections