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Volunteer Engagement and Retention

Volunteer Engagement and Retention

Jenny Box Volunteer Engagement Manager, England Rugby

Spirit of Rugby built on the inspiration of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the inclusion of rugby in the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. Here, England Rugby's Volunteer Engagement Manager, Jenny Box, gives her top tips for engaging and retaining volunteers.

 

Individual motivations

Find out what motivates your volunteers – everybody has different reasons for volunteering and tapping into that will help with recruitment and retention.
Communication  
Ensure there is clear, consistent and easy communication with your volunteers.
Progression/opportunities
Offer your volunteers the opportunity to gain relevant qualifications (we offer an RFU coaching course) so they can not only enhance their CV with volunteering but can further their skills and prospects by gaining new qualifications. 

A lot of motivation has come from being able to plan a project specifically for the local area, and then seeing this pay off when plans and activities are successful.

Abbie Brewin, Loughborough volunteer
Rewards
Research the group you are targeting and learn what type of rewards motivate them – is it branded clothing, fitness incentives or money-off vouchers? We have found that our volunteers are proud to wear the rose and feel part of England Rugby, so merchandise incentives work really well, alongside ‘one of a kind’ opportunities like meeting the players or opportunities to visit events at Twickenham.
Assign Roles
For specific projects, it works well to assign lead/important roles to volunteers so they know what is expected of them and feel valued, and it helps to divide the responsibility.
Be Realistic
Be realistic about the time commitment your volunteers can give, and what they can achieve. Volunteers can get demotivated if they believe themselves to be failing
Have an engaged 'facilitator’
It is crucial to the success of any volunteer project to have an engaged facilitator (who could be a volunteer themselves) who can communicate with the volunteers, and be the main point of call and lead by example.
Results
Make sure your volunteers share in the successes and results and see first-hand the impact they are having in their local community/project.
Manage Expectations
As with all new volunteers, setting out expectations at the beginning helps people feel confident in their role and at ease with the support available. Make sure volunteers know what is expected of them, and what they can expect from you. 
Promote progression and next steps
Ensure that further volunteering opportunities are advertised, for use as a chance for progression and a reward for the hours your volunteers have committed. This ensures that those giving up their time are properly recognised and subsequently retained within your project or others like it.

Further information:
Click here for more on the Spirit of Rugby programme.
Click here for England Rugby's website.