Volunteer turnover is a problem in almost every youth sports organization. Most youth sports leagues are 501 (c) 3 non- profit organizations and rely heavily on volunteers to handle most mission critical tasks ranging from registration, communication, team building, board members and the list goes on.
At Blue Sombrero, we work with thousands of youth sports organizations across the entire country and we’ve seen so many of these volunteers come and go, most of the time leaving in their wake panic and disarray as their replacement scrambles to make some sense of how to keep things a float.
Over this two part series, we will discuss some tips and easy to implement strategies to help reduce volunteer turnover and to make the transition easier. We will answer the following questions:
- How to define your volunteer positions.
- How to Recruit.
- How to set your club up for success and encourage and reward your volunteers.
- What to do when a volunteer leaves.
In this article, we’ll focus on the first two.
Understand the Reality
The reality is that volunteers don’t stay forever. They are under appreciated and over worked. Most can only work nights and weekends. Board members change year to year. Despite all of this, the club (youth sports organization) continues to provide services to its membership.
Define your positions
Create a quality job description for every role at your club. Don’t use buzz words or corporate double talk. Describe in real words what the position is responsible for and list out what the volunteer does on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Explain how many hours they are expected to put in, when and where they have to complete their tasks. This will help not only to clearly define each position but also to recruit new volunteers when the positions become available.
Here’s a snippet from a job posting for Blue Sombrero for a Marketing Manager to give you some ideas on how to write a good, quality job description:
(This is just a Sample Job Description)
Blue Sombrero is a leader in online registration and web design for youth sports. Since its founding in 2002, we have worked hard to create a service that will enable youth sports organizations to focus their attention where it matters most, the kids!
We are a smart, young and motivated group of people that works hard for our customers. We have been at the forefront of our industry, starting with soccer and expanding into all youth sports. We are an extremely fun and creative group that is passionate about soccer and youth sports and the services that we provide. We continue to invest in our product and provide the highest level of customer support in the market. Simply put, we are proud of what we do and we consider our customers our partners.
Here’s who we are looking for:
- You are fun, positive and motivated
- You are creative, hard-working and willing to take on projects big and small
- You are outgoing and sociable
- You love soccer and youth sports
- If you are a master at corporate double speak and smoke and mirrors, this is not the place for you!
If you were working for us, here are some of the things you would have done in the past few weeks:
- Created an email marketing campaign for a new service we just launched
- Edited articles for our company blog
- Created a new video collage for our Meet the Team section of our website
- Organized and executed our annual Admin of the Year contest and awards
- Began to organize our 2012 Convention strategy
- Managed the importing of contacts into salesforce.com for our sales team
- Sent out communication to our customer base for scheduled maintenance and for Tips of the Week.
- Coordinated with our PR firm for news releases and other marketing items
Here’s Some Other Things You Might Do:
- Check in occasionally with customers to gather feedback
- Help CEO with projects (no telling what that could be)
- Coordinate lunch and office visit for occasional visitors, board members, etc.
- Organize company night out, Braves game, Group Karoake, Sloppy Joe day, Finals of Champion’s League
- Play some Fussball (aka Foosball), Nerf basketball free throw competition, Soccer Tennis and nerf “PIG”- we like to have fun and compete!
How to Recruit Volunteers
Communication is important when recruiting for volunteers. Remember that your volunteers are coming from your membership and the more aware they are of all that you do on their behalf then the more open you are to their feedback and the more you recognize and reward your volunteer staff, the easier it will be to recruit new volunteers. Sounds pretty simple, right?
- Communication: Create a consistent communication plan to keep your membership informed of what your staff is doing on their behalf. Keep them posted on how often you meet, what you talk about, the decisions that you make, etc. If you tell them, your membership will appreciate all that you do! We recommend email as the best way to keep your membership informed.
- Creating a feedback is important: Your membership should feel that they have an outlet for their concerns and that they are being heard. A frustrated membership will provide slim pickings for volunteer recruits.
- Recognize & Reward your staff: We recognize our best coaches and our best players frequently, so why don’t we recognize your best staff? Recognizing and rewarding your volunteers publicly will go a long way in instilling a volunteer culture at your club and help make your volunteer positions more desirable.
Armed with a quality job description, quality communication, a feedback loop and an organizational commitment to recognizing and rewarding your staff, your club should have plenty of willing and able of volunteers to pick from.
Next in our two part series we’ll explore some more operational tips and guidelines and what to do when a volunteer leaves.