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Managing Volunteers

Checklist - here are some things to consider:

Volunteers are the heart and soul of a club. Few sport and recreation clubs need paid staff, which means that the whole organisation of a club can be made up of volunteers.

But not all volunteers are the same. Volunteers are motivated by different things, and it’s important that clubs recognise these different motivations and manage their volunteers accordingly.

Major Topics on this page

Why do people volunteer?

A volunteer is someone who donates their time to the club without expectation of a payment. Volunteers come from all age groups, educational backgrounds, income levels, genders, and types of employment.

They become volunteers for a variety of reasons. Basic motivations that are often cited include:

  • helping others
  • having an interest in the work or activity
  • wanting to learn and gain experience
  • having a lot of free time
  • being devoted to the cause
  • knowing someone who is involved.

Sport NZ has conducted research about volunteers and what motivates them.

The results are compiled in Finding and keeping volunteers: What the research tells us (PDF, 306 Kb)

Why manage volunteers?

Different things motivate volunteers and they may require different treatment. That’s why it’s a good idea for clubs to have a way of managing their volunteers. Good volunteer management creates a win-win situation for the volunteer and the club.

Club-volunteer relationships can be very one-sided. Clubs often seek volunteers to help them develop without taking into account what the volunteer might need. Because volunteers are an integral part of sport and recreation clubs, it is important that they feel valued and part of a club – this is the essence of good volunteer management.

Volunteers who feel that they have made a worthwhile contribution to their club, have been appropriately rewarded and recognised, and feel respected are more likely to contribute to the club again.

Volunteer management is about balancing the needs of the club with those of the volunteer. If done correctly, the club will benefit from increased volunteer support in the future.

View the sample volunteer management action plan for clubs to use and adapt in the resources section. (DOC, 29 Kb)

Appointing a volunteer co-ordinator

The work of volunteers must be centrally coordinated if your club is going to be effective in managing its volunteers. Appointing a volunteer coordinator recognises the importance of volunteers in the day-to-day operations of your club.

A volunteer co-ordinator’s key task is matching the skills, experiences, and expectations of volunteers to positions available within the club.

The volunteer co-ordinator can be a stand-alone position, or part of a separate volunteer management committee – depending on the size of your club and what’s involved.

See the sample volunteer coordinator job description to use and adapt for your club.

Planning the volunteer management programme

The size and length of your volunteer management programme will vary, depending on the size of the club and the amount of volunteers. In general, the bigger the club, the more comprehensive its volunteer management plan should be.

When planning your volunteer management programme, consider the following:

  • appointing a volunteer co-ordinator or allocating the volunteers portfolio to a committee member
  • including the volunteer management plan in your or strategic plan
  • reviewing all volunteer positions and the skills required. Can any positions be broken down to provide short-term volunteering options?
  • developing position descriptions or duty statements for each of these roles
  • identifying skills already in the organisation and matching these skills to positions
  • identifying recruitment strategies to fill the gaps
  • checking insurance coverage is adequate
  • establishing policy and procedures for screening volunteers where required
  • Developing an orientation process for new volunteers
  • outlining and communicating the roles and responsibilities of volunteers and the club
  • identifying the training needs of volunteers and finding training opportunities with local councils, national sports or recreation organisations or regional sports trusts.
  • identifying other ongoing support the club needs to provide
  • allocating a budget for your volunteers for out of pocket expenses, and recognition
  • keeping a database of volunteers
  • putting in place ongoing recognition strategies.

There is more information on managing volunteers at events in the Event Management section of ClubKit.

Resources and more information

Volunteering New Zealand has an array of information covering all things related to volunteers.

The Australian Sports Commission’s Club Development Network Volunteer Management Program contains useful resources for managing volunteers. SPARC’s volunteers page has details about how volunteers contribute to sport in New Zealand.

Other resources for the club to use include:

Volunteer Management Plan Template (DOC, 29 Kb)

Volunteer Coordinator Job Description (DOC, 29 Kb)


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