Recruiting and managing volunteers

Advice and tools to attract good volunteers and keep them.

Recruiting process

A basic process for recruiting and retaining volunteers is:

  • Find your club a volunteer coordinator. This should be someone familiar with your club and its systems and requirements. Their task is to ensure your club is volunteer-friendly. They can do this by developing a volunteer management plan, which will ensure your club (as well as the volunteers themselves) can make the most out of each volunteering relationship. For more information on this see Managing volunteers.
  • Ask people to volunteer. It might sound too simple, but studies have shown that simply asking people to volunteer is a very effective way of recruiting people. People love to be asked for help and are flattered when you do so. You can also try recruiting volunteers through events, advertising or community noticeboards.
  • Follow-up on expressions of interest immediately. The sooner you make contact, the more likely it is that they will continue through the process of becoming a volunteer.
  • Screen your candidates. By screening your potential volunteers with interviews and police checks, you ensure they are a good fit and are able to make a valuable contribution to your club.
  • Welcome your volunteers and provide orientation and training. Have the volunteer coordinator (or someone else as appropriate) welcome the volunteer to the club and provide an orientation so they feel like they belong as quickly as possible. Provide job-specific training as appropriate.
  • Find out what your club can do for the volunteer. Most volunteers are looking to get something from their experience with your club. It may be things like friendship, recognition, skills improvement, training or other motivating reasons. Where possible, try to accommodate these reasons for volunteering. If they feel they are getting something back from their experience, they are more likely to stay with your club and offer their services again in the future.
  • Provide support. Providing ongoing supervision and support through mentoring or regular debriefs (formal or informal) will give the volunteer feedback so that they know they are doing a good job.
  • Respond to issues and improve performance.Ensure volunteers know where to get any help they feel they may need. Be clear about lines of accountability and management responsibility.

Planning to recruit volunteers

Planning also involves some basic administration set-up. Administration, if it's kept simple, will help your club communicate clearly with your volunteers and manage them effectively. Well-managed volunteers will feel more at ease when they help out around your club.

What to include

Items to include in the administrative planning for volunteers are:

  • A written position description or job description.
    A job description is important as it helps the volunteer understand what their role entails.
  • An application form.
    This is a good way of collecting relevant information (such as contact details, emergency contacts and relevant experience) from your volunteers. 
  • Standardise your interview questions.
    If your club intends to interview potential volunteers, having a standard set of interview questions will ensure consistency, even when different people are conducting the interviews.
  • Establish a volunteer's code of conduct.
    This is helpful in setting down some basics about what is expected of them.
  • Create a welcome pack.
    A letter of welcome and a welcome pack, including items like the code of conduct, contact lists, job description and information about your club, is a great way to make your new volunteers feel like they are welcome and part of the team. Where appropriate, you can use different languages (for example Te Reo) to make your volunteer feel even more comfortable. 

Once you have completed the pre-recruitment planning, you can now get on with recruiting your volunteers.

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 coordinator or allocating the volunteers portfolio to a committee member
  • including the volunteer management plan in your 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 organisations, national 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.

Below are some templates to download and customise to get you started.

Managing and recruiting volunteer templates

Contact your local volunteer centre

Volunteer centres exist to facilitate volunteering effort. They generally operate in a similar way to recruitment agencies, that is, they try to match those wishing to volunteer their time with local not-for-profit organisations that have vacancies for volunteer assistance. There are 11 volunteer centres in New Zealand, some of which operate region-wide.

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