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April 28, 2019 • Athletic Administration

5 tips to help schools retain event volunteers

stadium gate volunteers
Photo: Joel Dinda, Flickr

One of the most difficult tasks for an athletic administrator is finding reliable, qualified volunteers to staff games, tournaments and other sporting events. It can be even more challenging retaining them.

While volunteers typically don’t expect to receive anything for their services, offering perks improves your chances of keeping them coming back year after year. Oftentimes, those perks come at little or no cost to the athletic department.

Here are five popular ideas used by Coach & Athletic Directors readers that will limit turnover, helping you to retain volunteers for the long term.

1. Offer swag.

You may not be able to pay your volunteers. What you can do is provide them with some shirts or hats with your school logo. This shows that you appreciate their hard work, and most times athletic programs have extra apparel on hand anyways. It never hurts to show your volunteers that they’re as much a part of the program as you are.

2. Public appreciation.

Sometimes all it takes is a simple “thank you.” One idea is to gather all your staff at a football or basketball game and have them stand up during halftime. Let them know you’re thankful for all the hard work they put in. It also allows them to have a moment in front of fans and players when the spotlight is on them.

3. Dinner or lunch.

A few athletic directors like to organize an end-of-season dinner event, praising volunteers for their support over the year. This obviously will cost your department some money, but it’s a lot less than it would have been to pay wages for a couple dozen part-time workers.

It also goes a long way if you can provide volunteers with lunch or a small snack during games. Most times, their roles don’t allow much time to stop and eat, so even if you order a few pizzas, it’ll help them feel appreciated.

4. Season passes.

Attending events can be expensive. That’s especially true for parents who come to every one of their child’s games. Giving volunteers a season pass to attend any game at any time free of charge is a huge bonus to those who spend a lot of time at events. That way, a parent who volunteers at baseball games can watch their child on Friday nights during football games. Over the course of an entire season, that saves them a lot of money.

5. Gift cards.

If you have local sponsorships with restaurants or other establishments, try to secure some gift cards that can then be passed along to your group of volunteers. It makes them happy, provides business for your sponsors and keeps your volunteers coming back. And, it does it all without placing burdensome costs on the back of your athletic budget.

  » READ MORE: Readers share their ideas for recruiting, retaining volunteers


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