Pulling together a fantastic team of volunteers is similar to hiring employees: it boils down to attracting the right people, ensuring they are working to their full potential, and keeping them happy.
Many golf clubs rely on passionate volunteers, yet can struggle to find the right people to fill positions.
However, there are a number of things a club can do to help attract – and keep – a great volunteer.
The first step may appear obvious – ask!
An organisation can use its natural networks to begin the search. Utilising club bulletin boards and social media, regulars and staff are readily able to encourage friends and family to become a volunteer.
Look for events for board members or key staff to speak at or attend, including collaboration with other organisations.
A powerful example of this approach is Hriday Bajaj’s story:
A recent arrival to Australia, Hriday Bajaj came from India to complete his Masters in Sports Management through Deakin University.
Believing it to be an exclusive sport, Bajaj had never considered playing golf.
But as part of his study, he attended an industry visit to the Australian Golf Centre, where his preconceived ideas of the sport were shattered. James Sutherland, CEO of Golf Australia, spoke about how the direction of golf in Australia was heading towards inclusivity, and pointing out that no matter how a person is involved in the sport, they are still considered a golfer.
Curious, this led Bajaj to become a volunteer at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship held at Royal Melbourne. Bajaj was paired with Indian player Krishnav Nikhil Chopra. The two were able to connect on a broad range of shared interests, giving Bajaj an entirely new outlook on golf.
“Stepping out of your comfort zone often leads to the most rewarding experiences and valuable lessons, and that’s precisely what this experience was for me,” he said.
When an organisation is reaching out, the key part of the message should be the why. Getting across the passions, goals and values of the organisation is imperative to attracting like-minded individuals.
Volunteers need to understand they are valued. Offer incentives such as complementary tickets to events, food and drink, or merch.
Volunteers also need to feel respected. Be organised. Have a plan in place for how the organisation will assign roles, and how training will be provided. Ensure expectations are clearly defined.
Finally, be public and generous with gratitude towards volunteers, and celebrate their wins and milestones.
During and following the pandemic, golf clubs saw a rise in interest in golf, notably from women and millennials.
By reaching out to these non-traditional players, clubs are likely to find a great mix of enthusiastic volunteers who will see them remaining vibrant well into the future.