What is a Volunteer?
There is no legal definition of a ‘volunteer' and the word is often used by many different people, to mean different things. However the definition of volunteering used in the 1997 National Survey of Volunteering is "any activity which involves spending time, unpaid, doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives, or to benefit the environment". Please note that the word ‘volunteer' within gymnastics includes all coaches, officials, committees, trustees, parent helpers and anyone else who gives their time free of charge. Recruiting New Volunteers
When individuals are asked why they don't volunteer, the most common answer given is "because no one asked". You will often find that there are people within your club and community with the time and energy needed to support your club or event. It's just how you go about finding them. A good place to start is with parents of your gymnasts and previous club members. Why not design a leaflet or poster to display on your noticeboard, letting people know you are looking for volunteers. Be specific, detailing the role(s) you would like the volunteer to fill, how much time it is likely to take and what skills and attributes would be useful for the role. Individuals are much more likely to put themselves forward if they understand the level of commitment you are asking them to take on. Consider what your club does in terms of an induction process for volunteers.Retaining Volunteers
Once you've spent time, money and effort recruiting volunteers, it is important you do what you can to keep your volunteer involved: this will help with continuity at your club. Develop ways to maintain/improve the relationship between your volunteer and the club, for example by offering training for your volunteers.
Ensure that your volunteers feel valued, regardless or their role in club. It is important they know they contribute to the running of the club. This will help them to remain motivated and continue contributing because they can see the impact they are having.Recognising Volunteers
Recognition of time and effort is important to ensure volunteers feel appreciated. Learn what motivates each volunteer, and make your recognition appropriate to what they think is important. There are many ways you can recognise your volunteers, for example;
• Thank your volunteer at the end of the session or send a Thank You letter after an event
• Announce your volunteers at events and thank them for their hard work and commitment in front of the audience.
• Organising a volunteer social evening
• Nominate your volunteers for awards such as the British Gymnastics Volunteer of the Year Award, regional volunteers awards, or local sports awards operated by local councils. Even if your volunteer doesn't win, they will appreciate you recognising them by being nominated.
• Write about your volunteers and put an article on your club noticeboard, in your club newsletter or send the it to your local newspaper.
• Provide your volunteers with T-shirts. It will make them feel part of the team.Volunteer Centres
Volunteer Centres are great sources of information and advice on good practise in volunteer management and currently offer access to free training on recruiting and keeping volunteers. The organisations you represent also have the opportunity to become a member of its nearest Council of Voluntary Service to be able to access information, advice, support and training for Voluntary Sector organisations. Membership is free for many volunteer centres and services and training courses are provided at below market rates. Please click on this link
to find your nearest volunteer centre.