Survey: Engaging and Managing Volunteers

Clubs Rely on Volunteers

All of the 23 clubs that responded to the survey rely, in some way, on the support of volunteers to assist with Club operations. Most of these volunteers are members or member spouses/family however, 75% of clubs allow non-members to volunteer exclusively for race committee, many noting that it would be impossible to run large regattas without this additional pool of volunteers. 90% of clubs provide training, if applicable, to volunteers.

Demographic of Volunteers

85% of clubs that responded, shared that they generally have a stable number of volunteers year over year, though some noted a slight decrease, attributing this to the aging out of active member volunteers.

Estimating the percentage of members that volunteer, most clubs (42%) estimated 5-10% volunteer, followed by 10-20% volunteer (18%), less than 5% volunteer (18%), 20-30% volunteer (15%) and More than 30% volunteer (6%).

100% of clubs also found their volunteers among the demographic of members aged 45+, 38% of clubs selected their most active age group as 45-55, 44% selected 55-65 and 19% selected 65+.

Structure of volunteering

The top 5 aspects of club operations that volunteers participate in are:

  • Racing support
  • Junior Sailing or Coaching
  • Club Events for Members
  • New Members/Membership engagement
  • Communications/Publications

Most clubs recognize the importance of thanking volunteers for the contributions and the majority do this through verbal/print recognition (85%) and Special Event (64%) with Gifts and Discounts/vouchers at the club also being utilized to a lesser degree.

64% of clubs maintain some database of member interests and skills, though most note that their current system could use improvement or be kept better up to date. This information is collected via the initial membership application as well as through questionnaires and surveys. Even clubs that do have a database find it only somewhat or occasionally useful.

Several of the clubs without such a database noted that this would be helpful to have.

Barriers, Benefits and Challenges

When asked to identify barriers to volunteering the top four reasons selected were:

  • Members do not have time to commit (70%)
  • Members are unaware of volunteer opportunities (47%)
  • Members are not interested (40%)
  • Inter-member conflict (33%)

Among the top benefits clubs see from using volunteers is:

  • Engagement of members with the club
  • Camaraderie among members
  • Lower cost of running regattas
  • Access to diverse experience and expertise

The top concerns and challenges included:

  • Inconsistency in quantity and reliability of volunteers
  • The older average age of volunteers
  • Recruiting new volunteers
  • Managing volunteer expectations