Managing a stable and efficient booster club is not easy by any standards. There are a host of factors to consider in the operations of a non-profit, from sponsorship and business partners, financial development, events planning, and of course, volunteer participation. The growth and success of your booster club depend on volunteer work as the foundation of the club’s relationship with the public. They put in the effort in their own free time, and without them, your club will founder. If you’re part of your booster club’s leadership, getting the most out of your volunteers can be difficult. Lack of clear direction or purpose leads to some workers doing more than others (freeloading). Let’s talk about volunteering for booster clubs and some ways to avoid the dreaded “freeloaders.”
Volunteering With a Booster Club
There are many reasons to volunteer for a booster club. Many (most) volunteers are more than happy to help in any way they can, being connected personally to the club. For others, it’s simply a fun, social activity where a community of people works together for a common cause. No one can fault whatever selfless intentions behind volunteering; the group donates time and energy to benefit others, which matters most. But human nature means that some will always be more motivated, and others may need some prodding. It is up to you as an organizer to correct that imbalance as best you can. So what do we do about those volunteers who tend to “skate” and struggle to do the bare minimum? When the machine runs smoothly, you’re on the right path. But as mentioned, some stragglers may let a few take the bulk of the workload. Let’s go into some tactics for avoiding that.
Organizational Structure – Managing Volunteers Effectively
Your booster club hopefully has a large and varied pool of volunteers. In this case, you also hopefully have some committee or board of officers that “runs the ship” and manages the club operationally. Big or small, your booster club needs leadership to keep the group moving in a united direction. Without direction, the goal of raising awareness and funds is lost in the sea of contrasting opinions, and the club will falter. Members and other volunteers have surprisingly different motivations for working for your booster club, so you must take charge and oversee all events and operations.
Reporting – Open and Transparent Progress
A straightforward and passive way to hold volunteers accountable to the club is simply establishing a system for giving routine status reports. Public/private group websites such as Google Docs or social media (Facebook is very popular) allow posts to be seen by all members should you choose, and it keeps everyone on the same page. Peer pressure is a surprisingly potent motivator, as no one likes being singled out as falling behind in work. Even asking how the project is going can be an effective way to maintain transparency and track progress.
Similar to reporting, private feedback to your volunteers works wonders with engagement and participation. Anyone likes being heard, and that goes for club leaders as well. Recognizing excellent work or giving your volunteers constructive criticism is much more personal and rewarding than issuing orders from afar. Speak with your staff often, listen to them, and not only will you see the higher quality output, but you may find a whole new perspective on your booster club’s status quo.
Rotating Duties – Rotating Roles
Leadership is about delegating tasks; volunteerism is different because no one is paid for their work. Your volunteers all have individual strengths and weaknesses that make them each value to your mission – but how will they know until they try? By rotating through the necessary tasks, your volunteers will begin to understand how they fit into the scheme and be clear in the intention behind the assignment. This helps make ALL accountable for every part of the project.
How Many Volunteers Is Too Many?
Volunteer overpopulation may seem like a “good” problem, but an overgrown booster club can often be its undoing. The club’s mission can be diluted with too many minds solving the same problem in different ways at once. Keeping the appropriate staffing is dynamic, but try to do the job with the least extra whenever possible. Having little to do will demotivate your volunteers, so always keep running tasks at the ready! Conversely, having too much on their plate will overwhelm even the most dedicated booster club volunteers.
Incentives – Fun Ways to Motivate
Giving your volunteers benefits or rewards for doing more work will help create a lively and fun atmosphere. They are already charitable, but keeping it lighthearted sweetens the deal and makes for a more interactive and enjoyable experience. Easy and always appreciated ways to show your thanks are: a pizza party, bowling night, beach trip, BBQ, or anything social and fun; make it a party! Rewarding excellent work can be as simple as a personalized thank you note to each volunteer or even awards given to standout workers! These small ways to motivate and reward staff can have a great return on investment.
Volunteers Want to Help – Don’t Lose Them!
Understand that the policies and procedures club leadership implements are a major piece of the puzzle. Still, building quality relationships with volunteers start with choosing the right people to work for you and holding them accountable. Always remember that the driving force behind your club is ultimately to benefit your booster club’s chosen program, whether a sports team or school group. With diligence and attention, you can avoid freeloading and focus your volunteer efforts on a successful booster club!