Support your Volunteers

11 Feb 2017

Volunteers are and always will be crucial to the success of any sports club Bowling Clubs are no exception. Even with the introduction of paid staff in many clubs, volunteers will remain an integral part of the club.

The problem however, is how to attract and keep good quality volunteers in your club. People seem less willing to put their name forward, citing lack of time, or having other commitments, or being too old, as some reasons for not getting involved.

To be a successful club a strong group of committed volunteers is required. And so your club must be fully supportive and committed to the role of volunteers and the resources required. Even though you do not pay volunteers for their time there will be a cost to your club recognise this cost and budget for it.

Listed here are a few ideas that will help in the struggle to find and keep volunteers.

Volunteer Recognition - It is perhaps easy to assume that volunteers represent highly valuable yet free skills and staffing. The reality is that volunteers must be looked after and well resourced budget for this cost. Recognition ideas include:

  • Host an annual volunteers function to recognise all volunteers that have put time and effort into helping the club.
  • Have monthly volunteer recognition this can be done through your club newsletter and by having a volunteer recognition section on a prominent noticeboard.
  • Nominate your volunteers for awards e.g. Watties Coach of the Year; Sports Trusts also hold annual volunteer functions that your volunteers can be nominated for and also attend. But make sure the club covers the cost of any ticket not the volunteer!
  • Provide clothing for special events as a thank you to the volunteers. This also helps guests identify who is involved in running activities if they need assistance.
  • Provide petrol vouchers if volunteers are required to travel on a regular basis.
  • A simple Thank you may be all that is required in some cases dont forget to thank people no matter how big or small the task they are helping with.

As much as possible try and reduce any direct cost to the volunteer.

Job Descriptions

  • All committees and the positions on the committees should have written job descriptions. This means people will know what is expected of them and how much time it will take.
  • Be honest when preparing the job description do not say a task will take one hour a week if you know it will take five hours to complete.
  • Update the job descriptions each year keep them current and as accurate as possible

Keep it simple

  • Try to avoid expecting too much of one person. Where possible split jobs up so that the workload is spread.
  • People will be more inclined to volunteer if the task is not too onerous and time consuming.

Succession Plan

  • Plan for changes changes in personal will happen from time to time, so it is important that your club is prepared for this.
  • Encourage volunteers to find and train their own replacement that way if you lose a volunteer for some reason there will be someone to replace them.

Match make

  • Ensure that volunteers are matched with positions / tasks that they will enjoy and have the necessary skills to complete. Use the skills of your club members to gain the best advantage for your club.
  • Not all volunteers are good volunteers some people have the best intentions but are just not suited for certain positions do not be afraid to say thanks but no thanks.

Understand your volunteers

  • Having an understanding of why people have chosen to volunteer for your club and bringing this knowledge into consideration when managing your volunteers (e.g. in terms of recognition / training), will assist in keeping volunteers happy and active in your club.


  • Give people the opportunity to gain new skills it will help them to do the job better, which is good for your club and it will give your volunteer a broader skill set, which is good for them.
  • Auckland Bowls or your Regional Sports Trust for example, will offer training seminars / courses for various volunteers. Encourage and pay for your volunteers to attend these opportunities.

Volunteers, like members, are the lifeblood of your club look after them, reward them and keep them happy and they will return the favour with commitment, hard work and enthusiasm.

It is no coincidence that positive healthy bowling clubs have strong membership numbers and many volunteers without one the other does not exist.

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