As different clubs across the country decide whether or not they will take on the challenge of reopening their doors, many have expressed concern about overworking their volunteers. On a regular day, volunteers are the backbone of a club. Throw COVID-19 and Return to Play guidelines into the mix and volunteers become the reason for a club’s survival.

Everyone has different levels of comfort when getting involved with their club again, and it’s important to respect these unique attitudes and mindsets. However, this makes it tricky for clubs to recruit volunteers and avoid the burnout of existing ones. If your club is open and is struggling with this, consider the following:

Incentive: Is the role incentivized? Some people are looking for experience, some are looking for some sort of reward, and others are just looking for a sense of fulfillment. If you’re struggling to get volunteers for a specific role, consider incentivizing it. An incentive could be receiving one ballot in a draw for each hour volunteered, and holding a monthly draw for gift cards, food, beverages, swag, etc.

Recognition: whether it’s public, private, or something personal they can keep (like a plaque or certificate), many volunteers will want to be recognized for their efforts. Make sure you recognize them! A specific recognition example could be announcing a “Volunteer of the Month” with their name and photo posted on social media, in a newsletter, etc.

Clarity: there’s nothing worse than being told how to do your job 12 different ways from 12 different people. Make sure that each role has a clear job description or at least clear expectations for how it should be done. The pandemic has created some new roles, so decide on the requirements and expectations for these roles before recruiting people to fill them.

Resources: Be sure to offer help to your volunteers. If it’s their first time in the position, consider offering training, past examples, or experts who they can tap on the shoulder to ask for help. Of course they can’t literally tap someone on the shoulder at the moment, but make sure someone is available to help who knows the role and the return to play requirements.

Desirable: Above all, consider the desirability of the role. Nobody wants to be stuck in one of the more boring roles, so try to find ways to make the role more desirable or have volunteers cycle through different roles. How fun it is, how easy it is, and whether it has a big or small impact on the club can all be factors in determining whether someone will volunteer for a position or not. Sometimes equipment can be purchased to make a role easier, for example an installation of a sprinkler to help the grounds volunteers.

Ask what they want: While it may seem like common sense, many clubs don’t ask their people what they want. You may be surprised to find out why some people volunteer and why some people don’t. With the uncertainty of COVID-19, it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to members or past volunteers to find out how comfortable they are returning to the greens, and if volunteering may be something they would consider.

Social distancing in place at Nutana Lawn Bowling Club

COVID-19 remains a threat to our Canadian bowls communities, and it is admirable that volunteers have been stepping up to help the clubs that have opened so far. These volunteers have made it possible for bowlers to start returning to the sport they love, and with these tips clubs can make sure they feel fulfilled and appreciated.

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