“Paid only with badges, stickers and memories, those beige-trousered philanthropists held the greatest show on Earth together in exactly the same way volunteers hold British sport together.” Matt Slater, talking about Olympic Games Makers in his report “How unpaid volunteers make the sports world go round”.
I like being described as a beige-trousered philanthropist but I am worried by the statistic that 3/4 of UK clubs have not noticed a change in the number of people volunteering after London 2012.
Clubs need to find volunteers and volunteers need to be better looked after. In an earlier post I looked at what can be done – and what is being done – for volunteers in sport. Can we really deliver an Olympic Sporting Legacy? was written at the time when the Olympic Village was sweeping up after the Olympians and getting ready to welcome the Paralympians.
As we all turn our attention to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year this weekend, give a thought to the volunteers who make your sport (or your children’s sport) happen. And if you are brutally honest, do you do your bit to support them?
Recent University research has identified that recruiters value relevant volunteering experience as much as paid work experience. This is good news for volunteers, whatever their age. So make sure you include your relevant experience on your CV and job application. Read more about this research on the British Psychological Society’s Blog.
In an earlier blog post, I asked How can you get a job without having an interview? It is exciting to see this anecdotal evidence, of the benefits of gaining relevant experience and skills as a volunteer, now backed up by research.
Wilkin, C., & Connelly, C. (2012). Do I Look Like Someone Who Cares? Recruiters’ Ratings of Applicants’ Paid and Volunteer Experience International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 20 (3), 308-318 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2389.2012.00602.x
Recently described as “someone who just gets on with things” here are some quotes that inspire me:
Relationships with volunteers and colleagues:
- The way to get things done is not to mind who gets the credit for doing them
- When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself. (Wayne Dyer)
- Respect is earned. Honest is appreciated. Trust is gained, Loyalty is returned (Gloria)
- Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. (Seneca)
- Never let someone with the significance of a speed bump become a roadblock in your life.
- Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself (Sara Henderson)
- The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. (Meg Cabot)
- Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” (Harriet Braiker)
- Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly (Dr. Robert Schuller)
and finally, the most important notes to self, a little reminder as we approach a new year……..
- To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- What we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others and the world is and remains immortal. (Albert Pine)
Can you tell the difference between your team workers and your time-wasters? Take a look at my volunteer matrix to help you identify the different types of volunteers in your organisation:
Can you tell your team workers from your time-wasters?
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Helen Keller.
Thank you vInspired for 8 inspiring quotes for volunteers who make a difference.These words sum up so succinctly how I feel, that I was motivated to make a list of 10 of my favourite quotes. Here they are:
- “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try” John F Kennedy
- “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain
- “When nothing in your life matters more than your own success you’ll likely have nothing in your life but your own success” Steve Keating
- “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” John F. Kennedy
- “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” Jim Watkins
- “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
- “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Mahatma Gandhi
- “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together” Vincent Van Gogh
- “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others” Pericles
- “Make things that you believe in happen” Me
“The Chairman” I hear you cry!
“Or the Treasurer?”
Having been a chairman of a large PTA for a number of years, I actually think the most important job in any association, charity or amateur club is the volunteer manager. This is the person who inspires, motivates and nurtures the workforce – all the people who give up their time to take on responsibilities to help the organisation.
The volunteer manager could be anyone on the team. You might have a dedicated role, or you may have another post holder who’s particularly good with people and who takes charge. Particularly good with people – this is the key! You need someone who is easy to get on with, understands and cares about others and who knows the difference between what motivates and what dispirits. It helps if they are involved in the organisation so that they are familiar with what is going on – but everything can be learned. Lack of experience is not a barrier: lack of empathy is.
What should a volunteer manager do?
- Know who the volunteers are – especially the new ones
- Know where they have helped
- Know what they would like to do and have the skills to do
- Recognise their contribution
- Encourage them to take on new responsibilities if these suit the volunteer
- Keep in touch with the volunteers letting them know past successes and news of what is coming up
To sum up: recruit one good volunteer and you have someone who can take on one role: Recruit one good volunteer manager and you have someone can maintain a supply of volunteers to keep your organisation rolling.
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner
Have you just taken on a new job – paid or voluntary – where you work with people who are doing their roles as volunteers? If so, this is for you:
Time and energy
When you are planning – whether its a project, an event, or a new direction – make sure you build in extra capacity because it will likely take more people and more time than you think you need.
Is it that volunteers are naturally inefficient? Not at all! Your supporting team will be fitting their volunteering around both work and family commitments and when unexpected things happen and take up their time, it is their volunteering that gets put on hold. Expect the unexpected! Get things done ahead if you can and allow a longer lead time to deadlines. And recruit a few more people – say 10% more – than you think you need It makes for less stress if you do.
What do you know?
Your volunteers probably know less than you think. Make them feel comfortable by explaining the system, showing them how things work and getting them started. They might be too shy to to ask you for help but they will thank you for putting them at ease.
Hello – how are you?
Keep in touch with your team. I don’t mean bombard them. But check how they are getting on and encourage them to talk to you regularly. You will enjoy hearing the progress updates and good news from them. And if there is bad news then it’s better to hear it sooner rather than later.
Make the most of a new volunteer’s initial zeal. Some people love a new project and will bring huge amounts of drive and enthusiasm at the outset. If you can harness this productively the volunteer will have a much better experience and be more likely to move onwards and upwards. If they experience frustration and barriers in their early days they may give up on you.
Have you got any suggestions you would like to pass on to someone just starting out working with volunteers? Please leave them in comments.
Sometimes its good to look back and see how far you have come.
There is never a shortage of ideas, only people to do them.
Volunteers are a PTA’s most important asset and it should be a priority to nurture them.
A short video celebrating the contribution 70,000 Games Makers made to the organisation and atmosphere of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games: http://youtu.be/53ckZ8x75PU
Makes me feel honoured and proud to have been one of them.