NLFC Policy – Volunteers

Introduction

Community football is the heart of Australian Football. Quality volunteers are critical to the conduct and growth of the game because they determine the quality of the club environment and, therefore, the experience for players and their families.

Volunteers are representatives from the community who freely choose to give their time and skills to support club activities for no payment other than reimbursement for out of pocket expenses.

Volunteers are the glue that holds together every football club in Australia. They dedicate hours of time and energy every year, working in a variety of ways and completing many necessary tasks. Without the dedication of these volunteers, football clubs as we know them would not exist. Community football continues to thrive through the efforts of volunteers.

Volunteers are not always appreciated or recognised for their efforts, as often their work is behind the scenes and goes unnoticed. Many major events in the community (e.g. Olympics etc) rely on volunteers to make them a success.  Football is no different: without the numerous volunteers helping out behind the scenes, clubs and teams would not be playing every weekend.

Objectives

The aim of this policy is to clearly articulate New Lambton FC’s position with respect to volunteer identification, management and retention.

It is important to recognise that there are many reasons why people volunteer their services to our club. They may be attracted because of their children, family of friends, or they may be former players themselves. Volunteers may also be attracted for other reasons, such as wanting to give something back to the local community or they may simply have a genuine interest in the club and the game of football.

People will generally volunteer to:

Have fun
Socialise
Learn new skills
Give something back
Help others
Fill in time
Develop new friends
Build self confidence and self-image
Explore career opportunities
Feel needed, useful and appreciated

Being aware of what individuals value in volunteering will help New Lambton FC provide satisfying and rewarding opportunities that will keep volunteers challenged and interested in fulfilling our club’s needs.

Rights and responsibilities of volunteers

Volunteers need to be aware of their own individual rights as well as what their responsibilities are to New Lambton FC. It is important to make these rights and responsibilities clear to all volunteers, particularly when they first start at the club. Providing support to volunteers is more easily achieved when volunteers are given a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what can be expected from the football club.

Rights and responsibilities should be incorporated into the role description for each volunteer position.

Volunteer coordinator

Volunteering does not happen without assistance. Volunteers who are unsupported and not well managed are less likely to feel positive about their experience and, as a result, will not volunteer again. In order for New Lambton FC to operate in an effective environment, the activities of all volunteers should be coordinated, which will help achieve the goals and objectives set by the club.

One committee member in each of New Lambton FC’s three football programs should take charge and serve as the Volunteer Coordinator.

Such a role recognises the importance of volunteers to the successful operation of our club. The volunteer coordinator needs to be a good organiser, with plenty of time and energy to look after volunteers and to match the skills and experiences of all volunteers with an appropriate position at the club.

The Volunteer Coordinator is also responsible for working out the strategies designed to recruit, retain and recognise all club volunteers and should work in consultation with other committee members in doing so.

The Volunteer Coordinator’s role is to:

  • Consult with other club members to determine where volunteers are needed.
  • Write task/job descriptions in consultation with the volunteer.
  • Assign specific jobs to volunteers.
  • Plan a volunteer recruitment strategy.
  • Prepare written material for posters, newsletters, etc.
  • Organise orientation/induction programs for volunteers.
  • Hold regular meetings with volunteers.
  • Find other members to supervise volunteers – ‘buddy’ system.
  • Organise training for volunteers.
  • Keep up-to-date records of volunteers.
  • Keep volunteers motivated and enthusiastic.
  • Revise volunteer duties when needed.

The number of Volunteer Coordinators and the amount of time and energy needed to accomplish these tasks will be determined by the size of the football program and its current performance levels.

Role descriptions

One of the main tasks for the Volunteer Coordinator is to develop the role descriptions for all jobs/roles needed around the club. Role Descriptions will be maintained within the following documents:

  • Operations Manuals of each of the New Lambton FC Football Programs – for specific committee roles (e.g. President, Secretary etc.)
  • Coach and Manager Handbook
  • Game Day Procedures – Duty Officers and general volunteer activities. .

A role description gives the volunteer a clear understanding of what they are getting into, as well as indicating to new volunteers that the club is organised and knows what is needed from the volunteers.

Finding volunteers

Most volunteers get involved through personal contact – our members, former members, supporters and their families and friends are likely to offer the keenest response to our need. Word of mouth is still the cheapest and best way of finding the people you want.

Research shows that a large number of people have never become volunteers because no one has asked them!  The following groups are the Club’s target audience for volunteering:

  • Parents, older siblings or family members.
  • Former players or players nearing retirement (many players wish to stay involved – some just need to be asked).
  • Young people completing Physical Education/Human Movement studies or Leadership Programs

Matching the volunteer to the job

You may feel that you don’t have much choice about the selection of volunteers for some positions.

While it may feel like volunteer options are limited and it is easier put anyone in a role simply because no one else will do it, each volunteer should be matched to a role that suits. It is important to understand:

  • The amount of time they can contribute.
  • Their skill level/knowledge.
  • Why they are involved in the club.
  • Their own personality and likes/dislikes.

For example:

  • There is no point asking someone to be a team manager if they work every second Saturday.
  • It would be unwise to ask someone to help out with the social functions if they are not keen on attending social functions. They may be more suited to being responsible for the team’s water/refreshments or washing the jerseys.

There will always be people who have more available time or willing to offer their time than others. It is important that the Club does not allocate jobs to these people just because they have a lot of time or know they will make themselves available.  Too often, these people end up with a long list of jobs that may not be particularly suited to them or leaving the Club because they feel burdened or taken advantage.

Orientation for volunteers

Orientation is vital for all fresh New Lambton FC recruits. It is a socialisation process where volunteers get to know the club and its key people.

Each New Lambton FC football program will conduct:

  • A Volunteer Orientation evening prior to commencement of each season to welcome, introduce and discuss their role and the season ahead.   
  • Monthly meetings with key volunteer groups (e.g. Committee, Coaches and Managers) – to keep volunteers up to date with key activities and progress within the club and build’ ownership’ through involvement in Club decision making.

The orientation process is aimed at helping volunteers:

  • Be familiar with the club.
  • Understand their role in the club.
  • Be aware of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Be made to feel welcome and needed.

Recognising and rewarding volunteers

Recognising and rewarding volunteers is essential if they are to stay involved in our club. The act of recognising and rewarding volunteers will ensure that their efforts will not go unnoticed. Volunteers’ motivation for continuing their involvement depends on their feeling of value and accomplishment.

Volunteer recognition should be:

  • Immediate – recognise efforts as soon as possible.
  • Specific – give personal recognition rather than general if possible.
  • Consistent – recognise everyone’s achievements and avoid favouritism.
  • Sincere – mean what you say, be genuine.
  • Enthusiastic – be positive and upbeat.

All volunteers should feel that the amount of effort they put into our Club is equal to the amount of recognition that they receive. A feeling of unfairness may arise if volunteers feel that there is no significant recognition system in place. These problems may be compounded when a volunteer feels as though other volunteers who have put in less effort are rewarded equally.

Retaining Volunteers

Volunteers are more likely to be retained by a club when they develop a sense of Club commitment. Club commitment refers to the individual’s identification with and involvement in a particular organisation. Volunteers who develop a sense of loyalty or identification to New Lambton FC are more likely to want to be there, perform their duties better and are less likely to leave.

The key for New Lambton FC is to ensure their volunteers and members have a sense of Club commitment. This may seem a difficult task, however developing a sense of Club commitment tends to work best when volunteers are genuinely valued and appreciated for their input into the organisation. In addition, if they like the people they work with, their commitment to the Club will be greater.

In order for New Lambton FC to truly value their volunteers, we need to:

  • Ensure time is taken to understand the individual needs of volunteers.
  • Match the skills and experiences of volunteers with the right roles/jobs around the club.
  • Identify training and development opportunities for volunteers.
  • Ensure all volunteer efforts are recognised and rewarded.

Additionally, each year, the Club will survey all identified volunteers within the Club to gauge the level of engagement and satisfaction and seek feedback on improving the Club and their volunteer experience. A copy of the survey tool is attached to this Policy.

Policy Review

This policy will be reviewed bi-monthly for the first year and then annually thereafter to ensure it remains relevant to club operations and reflects both community expectations and legal requirements.