How do I develop a volunteering strategy?

A well thought-out and executed volunteering strategy will help your organisation to reach its goals. Finding out what those goals are should be the starting point of your strategy. Is your group looking to grow numbers of participants, attract people from more diverse backgrounds, or upgrade its facilities? If your club doesn’t have an overall strategy written down, talk to the club management about what their aims are for both the immediate future and the longer term. By identifying these you’ll then be able to think through what sort of volunteers the club needs and whether you already have skills in the club.

For example, if your club is aiming to build a new junior team, you might need the following volunteer support:

  • Promoting new participation opportunities through local schools, youth groups and social media
  • Coaches to deliver the sessions
  • A driver to take the team to away matches
  • Admin support with collecting subs, communications to parents, etc.
  • Catering support to provide refreshments at training sessions
  • Qualified first aider to attend training and matches
  • Help seeking sponsorship for the team.

If you break down each of your club’s goals in this way, you can work out exactly what sort of volunteering resource you need and how much of this is already in place.

As part of your volunteering strategy, also look at the volunteer experience at your club and compare volunteer management with best practice standards. An ‘audit’ of your current volunteering programme might include:

  • Volunteer numbers
  • Diversity across your volunteers
  • Skills your current volunteers have
  • Policies and procedures that relate to volunteering, if any
  • Current recruitment strategies and their effectiveness
  • Systems you already have set up to support volunteers
  • Training and development opportunities
  • Current approach to thanks and recognition
  • Current approach to managing volunteers who leave.

It’s a good idea at this stage to also get feedback from those at your club on how they think volunteering is working. You could ask your management and your members what they think works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, you should ask your volunteers what the experience has been like for them and what they think could be improved. You might be able to draw on your most recent volunteer survey if you conduct them regularly, or set one up if you don’t.

From here you might want to write some further objectives that relate to improving the volunteering experience. It’s important that your strategy identifies what volunteers themselves need and not just what you need from them, as a better volunteer experience will help you to retain them.

Next, break down each objective in your strategy into activities – what activities will have to happen to make sure you achieve your objectives? Set out a timeframe for achieving these activities and define a measure that will help you to identify when you have completed each objective.

Then, identify the resources you’ll need to achieve these objectives. For instance, will you need funding to buy a volunteer management system? Does the volunteer coordinator need some administrative support from another volunteer? Securing these resources is very important to the success of your strategy and you’ll need the rest of your club to be on board.

It might fall on you to recruit someone to help with admin, but setting the club’s fundraising priorities is a wider responsibility and you should make a case for any extra financial resources that might be needed.

A volunteer strategy should probably cover the same sort of timeline as your overall club strategy as it will support its aims. Set a date at which to review it and start preparing a new strategy.

See the following links for more information:

NCVO - Volunteer strategies

Wales Council for Voluntary Action - Volunteer strategies