USA Swimming News

Monday, February 20, 2017

Recruiting & Retaining Volunteers



  • Recruit Volunteers. Don't wait for volunteers to speak up-take the first step and approach people to serve on a committee or carry out specific duties. Once they have agreed, explain the value of their contribution to the program, and emphasize the importance of reliability and commitment.
  • Match the volunteer to the job. By listening to volunteers, you'll find out why they want to be involved, what their interests and talents are, and how much time they are able to give. Give complete and accurate descriptions of all tasks and make sure the volunteers understand any requirements for training and/or certification, as well as the time commitment. 
  • Volunteer MomProvide training. Training will enable the volunteer to perform his tasks competently and to understand how his work relates to that of others. While a volunteer may already have great skills and experience in doing whatever job you have assigned him, he needs to know how his role fits in to the overall program. 
  • Provide guidance &reinforcement. It is important to provide volunteers with positive feedback and guidance for their jobs. Just as our swimmers need a pat on the back so do our volunteers. Be quick to praise and be sure to provide direction so that these volunteers become increasingly more effective. 
  • Share the glory. Volunteers want to feel that their efforts contribute to the success of the team, whether it be a meet or a fundraiser. Be sure to share the glory and the limelight with those volunteers that made the success possible.


Communication is a key factor in retaining volunteers. By keeping everyone well informed, your program will function more efficiently and your volunteers will feel more involved.

Be sure to use volunteers in areas that enhance their interests and skills. This will make the job more interesting for the volunteer and in turn, they will be more effective. Before jumping into any activity, identify what tasks need to be done, and what the requirements are. Will the task require technical knowledge, a certain kind of personality or the use of a car? How much time will be required?

A successful volunteer organization is usually led by someone who knows how to delegate responsibilities. Work needs to be distributed evenly so no one person feels overburdened or ill used. This will prevent burn-out later on. Encourage active volunteers to recruit "new blood" to work with them.


Why are people motivated to volunteer? Many parents get involved to help their children. Once these volunteers feel a sense of accomplishment, they realize their contributions are worthwhile and necessary for successful programs.


  • Recognize and reward volunteers for their contributions.
  • Train volunteers to be effective and encourage them with positive reinforcement.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic.
  • Make projects a "team effort."


The success of a group is determined by how well the people involved see their responsibilities affecting the program in a positive way. The volunteer who feels appreciated will continue to work and be productive. Praise is the easiest and quickest way to encourage someone. Saying "Thank you" can be the same as a Gold Medal!



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