The award-winning This Girl Can campaign has published guidance on how to boost female volunteer numbers in the sport and physical activity sector.
Marking Volunteers’ Week, the ‘Guide to recruit and retain female volunteers’ highlights key principles and learnings in how to avoid what we’ve found is a common problem – attracting and retaining female volunteers.
A Sport England-funded project recently revealed that a key partner organisation was struggling in their female-only volunteer programme.
Further research found this organisation to not be alone in their troubles, as such we’ve worked with partners to collate best practice from across the sector about helping sport and physical activity organisations recruit and retain more women volunteers.
Our strategic lead for volunteering, Jenny Betteridge, knows the importance of volunteers to the sport and physical activity sector, but also highlights the individual benefits to becoming a volunteer.
“We hope there will be some useful nuggets of information for all of our partners to help them engaging women through volunteering, and in turn, encouraging more women to both participate and volunteer themselves,” she said.
“Volunteering in sport and activity is a powerful force for good, both for those supported by it, but also for those giving their time, whether this is by making friends, increasing their confidence, allowing them to develop different skills or by improving mental wellbeing.
“And yet, significantly fewer women than men volunteer in sport, especially in leadership and frontline positions.
“This gender gap has been further exacerbated by the pandemic, through disrupted habits, changing work and caring responsibilities, and loss of confidence.”
Prior to the pandemic, data from our Active Lives Adult Survey showed that only 36% of volunteer positions in sport were taken up by women, and only 25% of referee, umpire or officiating roles, with the figure at 33% for coaching or instruction positions.
These numbers have worsened as a result of coronavirus (Covid-19), and following further conversations and workshops with organisations running women-only or women-focussed volunteer programmes, the guide was produced.
While we know not all organisations will be able to apply all of the guide’s recommendations, we hope there will be something of use for organisations of all types.