Running a sports organization is tough. You’ve got to get the players registered, collect payments, manage budgets, organize volunteers, and keep parents happy. If your sport is played outdoors you are constantly at the mercy of Mother Nature. Plus, you’ve got a full-time job and a family of your own. Attempting to manage everything can feel like herding cats.
But we’re here to try to help. We’ve got a few tips below to try to help make volunteering less stressful this year.
Tip #1 – Keep it Simple
The first step in making your life easier is not doing unnecessary work. You might find that you can cut your work in half just by eliminating unimportant activities. For example, do you really need to have a 2-hour board meeting this month? Or could everything be accomplished this month in a few quick emails? Should you hold an in-person registration session Saturday afternoon? Or could everything be done online from home?
If the board has been doing things the same way for years, make sure everything is actually worth the time before doing it this year. Quickly evaluate all of the old processes, and see if there are ways to reduce the workload for the current volunteers. Don’t keep doing things just because that’s how they’ve always been done.
If you’re interested in quick ways to save time, we also wrote a blog recently with Tips for Building Your Sports Registration Form.
Tip #2 – Get More Volunteers!
Don’t try to do everything yourself. There are plenty of other parents, community members, and students in your area that are willing to get involved. But you’re going to have to do some work to get them to help.
How do you get new volunteers when everyone is busy? Incentivize parents to volunteer their time as a board. Consider offering free participation for board members, and reducing costs for parents that are willing to volunteer to help with committees and events. And keep asking! Ask parents to help before the season, during the season, and in the offseason. Don’t just ask once. Always be willing to sign up new volunteers.
Volunteering is a team sport. Don’t row your boat alone!
Tip #3 – Hold Parents and Participants Accountable
Don’t let parents and participants push you around and make you do all of the work. Let them know you’re a volunteer, and you’re just trying to help. If a parent is giving you a hard time, they probably just had a bad day and forget you’re doing your best to run the organization.
To hold everyone accountable, list all FAQs clearly on your website, make sure registration information easy to access, and post schedules online so that parents can access them at any time. If you stay organized, parents and coaches should be able to find all necessary information easily at any time and shouldn’t need to reach out to you with the same questions over and over again.
Don’t let this be you after parents keep asking you the same question over and over and over.
When parents register, require that they answer every question and enter valid information (you can do this easily if you’re using an online registration system). Let them know if they enter their emails or phone numbers incorrectly, they’ll be likely to be left off of important messages during the season.
Tip #4 – Set Reasonable Expectations
Parents and coaches can be needy. They want to ask questions on weekends and late at night. Sometimes they forget you’re a volunteer and your full time job isn’t managing the sports organization. Be sure to set expectations that you’ll respond quickly, but not immediately.
If you list a phone number or email address for parents to contact you directly, make sure you set a reasonable timeframe that parents can call. For example, you can post that you’re available from 6pm to 9pm to talk, but not during the day or late at night.
BUT REMEMBER – in order to set expectations that you aren’t available late at night, you can’t send messages to parents late at night either. Make sure you aren’t sending email or text updates after hours, otherwise you’re setting the expectations that you’re available any time.
Tip #5 – Take Advantage of Technology
Technology should be making your life much easier as a volunteer, not adding work to your plate. Find systems to use for your organization that fit your needs – there are a lot of products that can help with registration, scheduling, and communication regardless of the size and requirements.
Two main areas we focus on at Jersey Watch are online registration and communication. Registering players, storing information, and contacting parents with important updates can all be done online with very little work for volunteers (check out the quick video below).
If you find yourself buried in paperwork, making phone calls constantly, or making trips to the bank – you need to reevaluate the tools you are using!