Anyone who plans a sports tournament knows that the strengths and weaknesses of its volunteer staff can make or break the event. So investing in your volunteers' training and tools is key. We've taken some important tips from an interview with Ruth Nicholson, founder of GO!, to get the best advice on the matter, and we've summarized some highlights below. So read on to find out how to build a strong volunteer management program for your sports tournament!
1. What are the components of a successful volunteer management program?
There are a lot of factors to consider when creating a strategy for your volunteer management program. Ruth lists four major components:
- Connecting people with the right skills to best role
- Investing the time to train and guide your volunteers,
- Listing role detailed descriptions and requirements
- Providing choices for volunteers to schedule themselves
2. What happens when there are weak links in your volunteer team?
When the four components aren't properly addressed, Ruth says a "trickle effect" occurs which spreads through the entire event. When a volunteer doesn't show up for a trash-picking shift, for instance, all the families with lunch, snacks, and beverages will quickly fill up the trash containers. Three or four games in, the trash is overflowing, and the attendee experience is compromised. People start to complain about the eyesore. Then, there's a legitimate health hazard when used band-aids and other bio-hazards end up on the ground.
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3. So what's the recipe for building a strong volunteer staff?
The recipe is simple, Ruth tells us. It's 60% planning, 20% getting the work done, and 20% showing gratitude.
- Planning: We suggest you use a leading event management tool like InitLive, which allows you to post customize registrations online and allows your volunteers to choose the shift they want to work online. Then you can ask for skills to fit the applicant with the right role, post role descriptions, provide self-scheduling and shift selection, and coordinate training.
- Getting the work done: This involves checking in teams, parking the cars, and making sure all the trash is picked up, Ruth says. You'll need to verify that everyone who check in is present, and you'll have to communicate with your teams consistently to see that the work is being done.
- Show your appreciation: Let each event staff member know exactly how they contributed to a successful event, Ruth tells us. For instance, she describes how you can let the parking detail know that they helped park cars so well that that the ambulance which arrived on the scene could access the area with no problem.
Cover all the planning, execution, and thank-you communications for your event with the industry's leading event management tool, InitLive. Make online lists and descriptions, communicate with your volunteers in real time during check-ups, and send out individual or group messages. For more information on how to build a strong event management team for your next tournament, please contact us.