How to retain your volunteers

Discover the key to a happy and motivated team of club volunteers.

Volunteers with the Athens 2004 British 4x100m team kick off the Join In Relay

If you’re a volunteer, you’ll know how important it is to feel valued and part of your club.

Sometimes volunteers start with a lot of enthusiasm, but they can quickly lose interest unless the club works to keep them motivated. How can you stop that from happening at your club?

Join In’s top tips for a happy and committed volunteer team:

1) Say a #BigThankYou
Simply saying thank you to your volunteers is so easy, yet it’s often forgotten. It is incredibly important to let volunteers know that you appreciate their help. Could you mention them in the monthly email, or give them an award at a presentation evening?

2) Keep talking
Are you getting the most out of your volunteers? Are they enjoying their time at the club? To ensure that everyone has the best experience, make sure there is time set aside for sharing feedback and discussing any issues.

3) Part of the club
You know how important it is to feel part of the team. If your volunteers feels wanted and included they will be far more motivated to stick around. Team spirit is a powerful emotion, and a great motivator for volunteers.

A few ideas for integrating new volunteers:

  • Invite them to social events.
  • Draw attention to any volunteers involved in training sessions.
  • Mention them in your monthly bulletin – or have an area about volunteers at your club.
  • Give them free membership and access to your facilities.
  • Could you run an annual or monthly volunteering award?

4) Fun and clear tasks
Make it easy for the volunteer to be helpful. The best way to do this is to give them specific tasks – and clear and concise direction. Most importantly, check the volunteer is happy with what you’re asking them to do. A happy volunteer is a retained volunteer.

5) Volunteer mentor… and practical support
Do you have anyone who could act as a mentor or co-ordinator for new volunteers. Ideally, they should know the club inside out, and can offer feedback and practical support where appropriate. (Mentors are a great way to avoid new volunteers suffering in silence with a task that they are finding difficult.)

6) Reward system
If a volunteer feels valued, they are much more likely to stay with your club. That’s why a reward system can be an excellent way to can motivate volunteers to achieve more – and feel increasingly valued. For example, you could have a ‘Volunteer of the Month’ award, or offer a training opportunity (see below) depending on the number of volunteer hours completed for the club.

7) Development and training opportunities
Volunteers may want to learn, gain new experiences and take on more challenging and specialist roles. These new skills could help them both inside and outside the club. Find out more about up-skilling your volunteer team in our dedicated section: How to train your volunteers.

Just ask Eddie

We know all too well how important making volunteers feel appreciated is. Last year we teamed up with BBC Sports Personality of the Year to ask clubs and players to share their Big Thank You across the UK.

During the show, Eddie asked the TV audience and everyone at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro to add their thanks.

The response was enormous. The #BigThankYou was the top trend on Twitter - first in the UK, then worldwide!

This just goes to show how important it is to simply say thank you. It’s your challenge to think of different ways to say thank you. It’s not just words or tweets, it’s actions too. So sing them a song, get them a present, get them an award. Whatever it is, make sure they are appreciated.

Eddie is joined by an array of sporting talent to say #BigThankYou to all the amazing sport volunteers out there, including YOU!

Check our videos and blogs with all the action