In other sections we look at planning communication but here we are looking at the ways of communicating with your volunteers in more detail.
The methods we look at are
Through the communication platforms it is important to be mindful that in each situation you have an opportunity to make an impact.
It can be useful to think about the most effective platform for your purpose. For instance, if you give negative feedback to a volunteer via email or text you may not see them again but a tactful conversation may be the catalyst for getting the best out of that volunteer. Remember to…
Provide role descriptions/expectations
Find resources that the volunteer used so that it can be shared with others
A critical element of volunteer management. Running a succinct structured meeting can be extremely powerful in getting your message across to your volunteers.
Plan how far out from the event to have a meeting and how long after you would like to get feedback and in what forum.
Briefings on the day of the event can help set the tone and debriefing can help sort through issues and offer praise or prizes. You should also consider the restrictions for some of your volunteers or for some events, official meetings will be difficult. Conversations can be looked at as small meetings. Of course catching up on a social level is important for a lot of volunteers and organisers alike.
It is important, however, that when you arrive at an event, you are ready – like most events the bulk of the work goes in before the event.
If the organiser is clear on job descriptions, rostering, roles that are vacant and filled, then the impromptu conversations won’t be flustered and they will be ready to carry out their roles as you want it.
Having structured induction sessions like any business would ensure that volunteers are safe and informed. Consider inducting several volunteers at a time to save time. The induction could be simple or elaborate considering your clubs level of resources. Be proactive and you won’t need to be reactive.
Social Media – Facebook/Twitter
If your club has its own page or account, use it to communicate information regarding rostering, reminders of events etc. and for feedback. Consider having a special page for the volunteers of your club. It is a great way to show you value their contribution and a good way to get practical messages out there. Of course this will not be suitable for everyone and you may want to be aware of those who don’t use social media – perhaps phone contact may be better from them.
Those that don’t use social are just as valuable in terms of being volunteers so keep them in mind if social media is your main avenue for communication.
Twitter is a great site for short sharp messages but they can be missed unless users check their accounts regularly. If you tag the intended recipients, that will help target the message.
Facebook is an effective avenue – when you have a page or group, you can include people or have them ‘like’ your page and they will receive notifications of your postings. Don’t overload the page though, if you want to use it for practical reasons because people may switch off or ‘unlike’ your page.
Email is a great way to contact your volunteers. Anything within reason can be sent, group lists set up easily and it costs virtually nothing. Consider setting up club emails and or signatures to help the professional nature of the communication. It is a good way to ask for volunteers as email addresses should be held by the club. Clubs that can use these platforms effectively hold the best chance of attracting and keeping the currently emerging cyber savvy generation as possible volunteers/members.
These are perhaps the most valuable part of volunteer management. There is now a plethora of information out there with regards to policy creation and manuals. Your state or national sporting body will value these highly as will your members.
If your sport isn’t up with procedure and policy templates, then use another sport. Check out cricket in your state or AFL for examples of policies and procedures. This does not have to be an exhausting process.
Of course you may like to make adjustments to make it more suited to your situation but that is your choice. Put your own club logos on the documents – spend a little on some bindings or a front page in colour and your document will look extremely impressive. Any safety procedures should also be included.
Whilst nothing beats face to face contact, the phone is critical these days. Text messages can be sent out in a flash at minimal cost. There are apps that allow you to store groups of people so you can text them in an instant (Some of those apps may like to advertise here – like groups contact) Can your club afford a mobile phone and contract? Giving this to event organisers or board members is a way of showing their value and not having the money come out of their own pocket.
Whilst newsletters will be covered more in club promotions, consider having a part in a club newsletter dedicated to the volunteers. Perhaps include a profile of a volunteer or a description of their roles. It is a good opportunity to ask for volunteers and acknowledge them for their work. You could even have volunteers express what they get out of volunteering that might inspire others to help.
More Volunteer Information