Recruiting and Supporting Volunteers
Recruiting or advertising for volunteers is about selling your club, committee, event and the benefits of getting involved. So, before you actually try and recruit volunteers, it might help the process to go more smoothly if you try and answer some of the questions below.
1. What is the overall aim of the club/committee/event/training day etc?
Any situation which requires volunteers, has an overall aim. If you are a club in need of some extra help, your aim might be, to provide a safe and fun environment in which people can come and experience triathlon, whilst training at a level which suits them. Understanding your particular aim(s) will aid you in understanding where you need volunteers the most.
2. How could a new volunteer make a difference or help achieve those aims?
Once you are aware of your aims, you will be able to see how having extra volunteers will help you realise those aims. If a volunteer knows how s/he is contributing to your aims and how you want them to contribute, the situation is made easier for everyone involved.
3. Why do you want volunteers and what do you want them to do?
It is vital that you know exactly why you want volunteers, i.e. you have a specific role in mind for them. Although many clubs, committees, event/training day organisers say that they need extra help, they're not always sure in what areas. Before asking more people to volunteer, ensure you know what you want them to do when they offer their time to you.
4. Finding Volunteers
Friends, family members and fellow triathletes are often willing to volunteer, but as triathlon is continually growing, we need to start looking outside of those initial groups and think about alternative ways of recruiting new volunteers. Below are a number of suggestions as to how you could potentially access new volunteers from both inside and outside the sport: Share volunteers with your neighbouring Triathlon Club: If you know of a club that holds an event close to yours, why not get in touch and try and create a reciprocal relationship? You could both offer free entry into your respective races in return for some extra help on the day.
www.do-it.org.uk - An organisation which offers a free online service for advertising volunteering opportunities. The website can also put you in touch with your local Volunteer Bureau which is a localised centre for people looking to get involved in volunteering. Give it a go!
www.volwork.org.uk - REACH (Retired Executives Action Clearing House) helps voluntary organisations benefit from the business, managerial, technical and professional expertise of people who want to offer their career skills, working as a volunteer. Local help and advice is available from the UK-wide network of volunteer REACH area managers. Call 020 7582 6543 for more information.
www.volunteering.org.uk - Volunteering England is an independant voluntary agency committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity. The website offers a range of resources for anyone who works with or manages volunteers, as well as those who want to volunteer.
www.csv.org.uk - Community Service Volunteers involves people in high quality volunteering and training opportunities that tackle real needs and enrich lives. With over 40 years' experience to share with other organisations, they can find volunteers or help you create a volunteer program. They also offer professional development opportunities.
www.runningsports.org - Running Sports is dedicated to providing skills and support for volunteers working in sport. From quick online tips and books, to fun and informative workshops. Running Sports will help you get more for yourself, your club or organisation and its members.
www.mvonline.gov.uk - Millennium Volunteers/V is an organisation encouraging young people aged 16 - 25 to take part in volunteer projects. Volunteers are looking for local placements, engaging in a range of voluntary activities. Volunteers work towards gaining accreditation for volunteering 100 - 200 hours.
www.timebank.co.uk - Time Bank is a national charity inspiring and connecting people to share and give time. It appeals to people like you who know what to do about it or where to start.
5. How can you support your volunteers once you have them?
Role definition: Putting yourself forward as a volunteer can be quite daunting. People might not be sure what they are getting into and might be worried that they won't be up to it or that the commitment will end up being greater than they first thought. If a role description is provided, the volunteer will have a much better idea of what will be expected of them once they begin volunteering. For examples of role descriptions, please visit the Volunteer Role Description page. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but may give you some ideas on how to write a clear and concise role description that will help your new volunteer. Please e-mail Ali Sibcy if there are any roles which you feel need more explanation or that you would like to see on the site.
Value People's Time: Find out what time people have to give to volunteering and work out how best to use them. It is important to remember that volunteers will quickly become de-motivated if their time isn't spent constructively. Make sure you are realistic about when people are really needed. Although volunteers want to help, they will also appreciate it if you are honest about the amount of work there is to go around.
Talk to your volunteers: It's important to keep in contact with your volunteers and keep up to date with what they have been doing, even if it is just once a month. Regular contact will make them feel valued and remembered. They also might surprise you by providing a different perspective on your club/event/training day and provide you with alternative ways to make improvements.