SportsEvents Magazine

JUL 2018

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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July 2018 14 This challenge is not lost on sports com- missions and CVBs that rely on volunteers to execute their events. They understand people's lives get busy and seem even bus- ier, and that the precious free time a volun- teer spends with them should be exchanged for something of value. "Unfortunately, it seems like fewer and fewer people are apt to volunteer in gener- al," said Jennifer Stoll, CSEE, executive di- rector of the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission. "People are so busy with life and this is often an overlooked opportunity for personal growth." Sports commissions and CVBs are charged with not only recruiting volunteers but also retaining them for ongoing support of their events. Leveraging community partnerships to find volunteers and adver- tising for them through email and social media are common practices but that's only part of the process. For Kim Strable, CSEE, president of the Greensboro Sports Commission, that important work is so simple it "should be commonplace. We really stress The Golden Rule," he said. "Treat people as if you were in their shoes. We tell volunteer managers to keep this at the forefront of their minds." So how do volunteers want to be treated? According to sports commission and CVB representatives from across the country, these small but courteous gestures work at recruiting – and retaining – volunteers. Communicate Clearly Whether it's the first solicitation for help or reminders leading up to the event, be very clear about expectations, duties, instruc- tions, etc. For Mark Jeanneret, executive director of the Erie Sports Commission, that starts with internal organization, defining the needs for each event and the volunteers they will require. "Ensure that each volunteer has an active role in the event, as well as explaining all expectations and responsibilities ahead of time," he said. "With bigger events, schedule a meeting with all volunteers to share expectations, and provide credentials and gear prior to the scheduled volunteering times." These days, communication can be as simple as sending automated email messages, according to Strable. It's less labor-intensive for sports commission and CVB staff, and "more and more people have come to expect that," he said. Even more importantly, technology allows for a back-and-forth exchange between an organization and its volunteers. Strable uses this to his advantage by trying to "match volunteers with their passion or interest." Those with an interest in swimming, for example, may be assigned to events at the Greensboro Aquatic Center and older volunteers may be asked to assist with indoor competitions. Build Relationships Along the same lines, building relationships has advantages both ways. Community partnerships can be a source for volunteers and creating bonds with volunteers can help retain them. "The best way to retain volunteers is to build relationships with them," Jeanneret said, "always ensuring that each volunteer GAME Plan t Volunteers assist with race registration in Erie, Pa. Erie Sports Commission

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