Managing volunteers

Volunteers are critical to the successful running of any sport and recreation organisation and the implementation of contemporary and effective volunteer management practices will ensure a well organised, trained and happy volunteer workforce.

A quick reference guide to managing your volunteers better


Appoint a volunteer coordinator to your organisation; someone who is responsible for recruiting managing and recognising your volunteers. Someone who is a point of contact for volunteers.


Develop a volunteer management plan. This plan should address:

  • number of volunteers required and the roles they are required for
  • identification of skills already in the organisation (for example conduct a skills audit of existing members and volunteers)
  • recruitment strategies
  • roles and responsibilities of volunteers
  • roles and responsibilities of the organisation
  • training that can be offered to volunteers
  • ongoing day-to-day support that can be provided
  • recognition strategies.

Job descriptions

  • develop job descriptions outlining volunteers' duties
  • job descriptions enable potential volunteers to understand what is expected of them before taking on the position.


Provide new volunteers with an orientation, including:

  • a welcome to the organisation 
  • details of their position
  • information on the day-to-day operations of the organisation
  • support that will be provided to them
  • introductions to key people in the organisation.


  • identify the training requirements of your volunteers
  • keep up to date with the training that is available for various positions in the organisation
  • include an allocation for volunteer training in the organisation's budget.


  • provide volunteers with a central point of contact for example volunteer coordinator
  • ensure open channels of communication are available to volunteers. Provide them with the opportunity to ask questions, discuss problems, raise issues, put forward complaints
  • make sure that volunteers are not out of pocket; where possible cover their expenses
  • ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the volunteers and the organisation are clearly defined and communicated
  • keep volunteers regularly informed about what is happening in the organisation
  • ensure that recognition of volunteers is ongoing.
Page reviewed 25 March 2021