Developing Volunteering at Clubs

In gliding, people who ‘help out’ might not view themselves as being ‘volunteers’, but they are volunteers and their contribution is valued. You may find that using the terms ‘volunteer’ and ‘volunteering’ can themselves form barriers to some people responding to club requests to ‘join in’ and ‘help out’. Please adjust your communication according to your audience. Here we use ‘volunteers’ and ‘volunteering’ because this is how we collectively view the large proportion of club members who are the lifeblood of the sport of gliding in the UK.

In 2017, the BGA carried out a club survey using the Sport & Recreation Alliance’s volunteering survey of sports clubs across the UK as a basis. The headline results show:

Numerous surveys and reports in recent years have found that around 70% of British volunteers are unhappy. The primary reason for not volunteering, or being unhappy with a voluntary role is that people have not been asked to do what they would like to do. It does not have to be this way! Successful volunteering is all about volunteer management, rather than volunteer recruitment, in much the same way that member retention is more critical for the size of the club than member recruitment. Gliding is already good at volunteering, yet clubs often report difficulty getting enough people to help out.

For good safety reasons, gliding is a permission based culture, so in a gliding club it is particularly important to actively invite people to volunteer. The foundation for healthy volunteering is twofold:

  • developing a good understanding about what needs doing; and
  • getting agreement on what is involved in each role and how the volunteers will be supported.

When these two areas are well defined, it becomes much easier for people to respond to an invitation to volunteer.

The following should help you as you define club tasks and roles:

Having a Volunteer Coordinator to lead and support club volunteers will be helpful. Slides 18 & 19 in the ‘Healthy Volunteering’ presentation are relevant. When looking at recruiting new volunteers, it is important to understand what the capacity for supporting those volunteers is. Each new volunteer should have someone to show them the ropes and to be available to talk to about the role.

A place where people are enjoying themselves becomes a place where other people want to join in – both as new club members and active volunteers. Gliding is volunteering.

Understanding just how much donation-in-kind of people’s time is very helpful when it comes to project planning and future club management decision making. It could be helpful if the volunteer coordinator could gather volunteer hours.

Supporting policies

Ideally, your club will write and adopt a Volunteering Policy. The WCVA have an information sheet ‘Creating a volunteering policy’ which includes links to a copy of their model volunteering policy.

As gliding is essentially volunteering, many of the voluntary activities are covered by the rest of the club’s policies. These include (in no particular order):

  • Child Protection Policy
  • Codes of Conduct
  • Equity & Equal Opportunities Policy
  • Grievance and Disciplinary Process
  • Appeals Procedure
  • Data Protection Policies and Notices

Links and sources of useful information

Sport and Recreation Alliance ‘finding volunteers’

The Sport and Recreation Alliance has provided a useful facility where clubs can advertise the type of volunteers they are looking for. Details are available here.

Keeping it legal

Important Government advice on avoiding accidentally creating an employment situation

Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA)

As ever, the advice and guidance from WCVA is excellent.

There is a WCVA publication Recruiting volunteers – a manual of good practice which, although published in 2005, is still highly relevant – volunteers are people and they haven’t changed much in that time.

WCVA run Volunteering Wales, which has many useful resources. They are working with Team Kinetic to produce a website for volunteer management which will go live in June 2018.

Directory of Social Change publications

‘The Complete Volunteer Management Handbook’   ISBN 978 1 906294 60 1

‘Keeping Volunteers – A guide to retaining good people’   ISBN 978 1 903991 90 9

A note on regional variations

The focus here is on good practice and the principles of volunteer management. These apply to all four home countries. The links above have primarily been taken from Wales, due to the pragmatic and practical guidance set out by WCVA. There are a few legal aspects in their advice sheets, which may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These variations have not been checked. A useful organisation in Northern Ireland is Volunteer Now and Scotland is Volunteer Scotland

If you would like BGA support with developing healthy volunteering at your club, please contact the BGA Development Officer via the BGA Office.