Volunteers are crucial to help your sports organization run smoothly throughout the year. They’re invested, they’re hard-working, and they help ease some of the administrative and financial burdens that naturally come with running a league or club. Some people go out of their way to find volunteer opportunities on their own, which is greatly appreciated, but in a lot of cases, volunteers have to be roped in.
Here are some ideas for how you can locate and entice volunteers for this season:
Higher education institutions contain a sea of student-athletes (and former high school athletes) who live and breathe sports, and will do anything to stay involved.
Posting flyers in the campus recreation center is a great way to reach active students who can bring some young, lively blood to your organization.
Email the college’s coaching staff and see if they have any graduate assistants or student workers interested in helping. One of the coaches might even agree to help out!
Many colleges have some type of sports management program, and students are always looking to bolster their resumes with volunteer experience. Try contacting the sports management Program Chair to spread the word.
Which high schools fall within your boundaries?
Try reaching out to the athletic director or the coaches of the same sport as your organization. They can pass along information to their parents and players, and point them in your direction if there is any interest. These parents and players probably participated in your organization (or a similar one), so they might jump at the chance to give back.
Are you located near a college? See if you can tap into internship programs. Often college students are looking for volunteer experience, and coaching or helping with a youth sports program can be a great opportunity.
I am convinced word-of-mouth travels faster than the speed of light. This is why using your network of volunteers can be instrumental in gaining new volunteers. Encourage them to call, email, text, tweet, post, and snap their friends and colleagues to gauge interest.
Coaches from last season can share their experience and the benefits of getting involved in youth sports. Volunteers can be the biggest advocates for your sports organization, and the relationships they have with the people they are contacting can help your recruitment efforts.
If you have a website, you can also have your current volunteers direct people there for more information. New visitors to the website can learn more about your organization, and they can subscribe to updates by providing you with their contact information.
One of the best ways to encourage parents to volunteer is during the player registration process. Often times parents don't realize how important it is to volunteer.
You should include a question in your registration form with a list of options for parents. Many parents won't want to coach, but there should be other opportunities so that everyone can get involved.
Some organizations even offer a slightly discounted rate for parents that are willing to volunteer in some capacity.
Make it quick and easy for parents to get involved. And remind them it's important to help!
Once you have completed registration for the upcoming season, you will instantly have a pool of potential volunteer parents to pursue — try saying that five times, really fast.
At the first organizational meeting, make sure you introduce volunteer opportunities. One of the most important things to have ready for this meeting is a handout with a list of positions (including short descriptions). Adults are busy, and knowing the expectations upfront can help them make a decision quicker.
Once you have assembled your cast of volunteers, bring everyone together for a condensed training and team building session. For new volunteers, this can help them ease into their responsibilities. For returning volunteers, this gives them the chance to meet the new parents, pass along helpful advice, and establish a support system. You can also take this time to setup a GroupMe or group text for all of the volunteers to communicate. Sprinkle in some ice breaker and team builder activities, and you’re all set!