As many of you reading this will know, the end of a football season often signifies when the work really begins; it’s simply a different list of jobs and which are no less vital to your clubs survival. Jobs made easier by a different type of volunteer.
Whether you like it or not, the professionalization of sport hasn’t just changed the top of the football pyramid. An experienced grant fund writer, an architect or a great local networker, are volunteer contributions which are every bit as important as match-day roles.
Statistics from the Sports and Recreation Alliance show that in 2012 a staggering 1.9 million adults volunteered at least one hour to sport (an estimated value of approximately £2 billion). I know from talking to one Conference Premier Club that they value their annual volunteer support at £300k, a huge help with a turnover of £1 million.
So where are these 1.9 million volunteers?
There’s no silver bullet to find and retain them but a few things I’ve picked up:
Firstly remember there will be some unsung heroes already at your Club. So have an evening or afternoon set aside each year to celebrate and reward this hard work – a Christmas party, a volunteer away game – make it genuine, there’s no need to hand out gold stars.
Secondly don’t fall into the trap of just asking for volunteers. Advertise for a specific role or for a certain skill, use your networks to identify individuals and make a personal approach, or call an open meeting to discuss a specific area of the club that you need support with.
Thirdly don’t be disappointed if you can’t find the next president of the Club, who can give all hours of the day; try and offer opportunities for people who can use their skills for an hour a week. It may prove just as valuable.
Finally look at the club structure itself. Is it set up to encourage new volunteers? Is the Board inclusive and accountable to the community? It needs to be to attract the next generation of volunteers.
If you can share the burden it’ll be worth it.