Volunteers in Sport

Volunteers in Sport

Prepared by : Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
Evaluation by : Brendan Lynch, Sport Consultant (April 2019). 
Reviewed by network : Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN), April 2019.
Last updated : 30 January 2020
Content disclaimer : See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer
Volunteers in Sport Image

Introduction

Approximately 1.8 million Australians across the nation donate their time and energy to the sport and active recreation sector. 

Volunteers contribute to the social and economic value of sport in Australia, particularly at the community grassroots level. They also support sport at its highest levels including the staging of domestic major events such as the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Volunteers perform many critical roles across the sport and active recreation sector including as coaches, officials, team managers, administrators, board and committee members, and other positions--with many individuals filling multiple roles.

Key messages

    Volunteer participation

    Approximately 1.8 million Australians donate their time and energy to community sport and recreation clubs. The labour input of these volunteers has been estimated to be valued at AUD$4B annually.

    Personal benefits

    Volunteering has been linked to positive mental, social and physical benefits for individuals. Older volunteers in particular may experience less depression and greater life satisfaction than non-volunteers. 

    Workforce development

    Providing ongoing education and training opportunities, positive recognition, and other forms of support for volunteers, have been shown to dramatically improve volunteer recruitment and retention rates, as well as the broader sustainability of Australian sport.

What is volunteering?

Volunteering Australia has defined the act of 'volunteering' as "time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain." However, the term volunteering covers a diverse range of activities. It includes formal volunteering—that takes place within organisations (including institutions and agencies) in a structured way—and informal volunteering—acts that take place outside the context of a formal organisation. While the vast majority of volunteering is undertaken by individuals, entities also donate employee time and this is included within this definition of volunteering. Volunteering should not be exploitative, or be used to replace paid employment. 

While volunteering provides substantial benefits to society, importantly it also provides significant benefits to the volunteers themselves. The personal benefits of volunteering need to be recognised and fostered. Volunteers can receive reimbursement of out of pocket expenses and can be rewarded and recognised as part of good practice. While this process may introduce an element of financial or material benefit to the volunteer it does not exclude the activity from being considered volunteering. Volunteers may receive an honorarium, stipend, or similar payment as recognition for voluntary services or professional services voluntarily rendered, in accordance with Australian Taxation Office rulings. Based on the nature of such payments and the recipient’s circumstances, the receipt of this type of payment does not preclude the person from being considered a volunteer. 

Role of volunteering in the sport sector

Sport and recreation help to build communities through social inclusion and a sense of connection to a community. Sport can also play a positive role in many people’s lives, from diverting young people away from crime and anti-social behavior, to improving physical and psychological wellbeing. Sport is part of the fabric of Australian life, and as such, sport clubs are the backbone of our local communities. Most clubs are small not-for-profit organisations run by a wide variety of volunteers from differing backgrounds.

In recent years, the role of volunteers and their contribution to the sport and active recreation sector has received much greater attention. The value of volunteers has been captured as a measured input of their time, and a measured output of their contribution. Many programs and strategies have been developed to identify, attract, retain and recognise volunteers within the sport and active recreation sector.

Volunteers add great value to the sector by ensuring that organised activities are accessible (i.e. within the financial means of most Australians), well run, and inclusive. The popularity of volunteering, particularly within the sport and active recreation sector, remains strong in Australian society. 

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

books iconBooks

ReadingReading

  • Volunteering Australia Response on a National Sports Plan, Volunteering Australia, (July 2017). The National Sports Plan aims to guide the future priorities and approaches of the Australian sporting sector for the long-term. Volunteering Australia believes that a National Sport Plan needs to acknowledge volunteering as a key pillar for sporting activity in Australia, and develop mechanisms to facilitate and enhance its contribution. Additionally, they have emphasised that there must be adequate consideration of volunteering in policy development and workforce planning. The response also highlights the need for a sustained investment into the volunteering sector by the Australian Government to ensure long-term benefits.
  • Volunteering: Building Stronger Communities, Discussion Paper (PDF  - 1.78 MB), Government of Western Australia, Department for Communities (2010). Volunteers are an invaluable resource to the social, economic, environmental and cultural strength of Western Australia. Active volunteers and well-supported community groups build connected communities by strengthening the ties between people, encouraging participation, and responding to the changing needs of the community. 

Report iconReports

  • Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector (PDF  - 4.2 MB), Australian Government, Productivity Commission, research report (2010). This report provides information on: (1) improving the measurement of the sector's contributions, and (2) promoting productivity and social innovation. The report highlights in many different sections the economic and social benefits that volunteering has on the not-for-profit sector generally.
  • The economic contribution of sport to Australia (PDF  - 717 KB), Frontier Economics report to the Australian Sports Commission (2010). There are three main ways in which sport delivers economic benefits to society: (1) promotion of physical activity for public health benefit delivers an estimated saving of $12 billion in health care costs, (2) labour input of volunteers is valued at around $4 billion, and (3) the international success of elite Australian sportspeople is one of the most significant measurable positive impacts on social well-being; with a value that is likely to exceed the current annual budget for elite sports.
  • Intergenerational review of Australian sport 2017 (PDF  - 1.9 MB), Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for the Australian Sports Commission, (2017). This review focused on the overall sports sector, with a particular emphasis on participation in sport and community level sport. While the synergies between participation and high performance sporting outcomes are recognised as being important to any discussion about the value of sport, the ASC’s high performance strategy is reviewed as part of the Olympic cycle. A separate, deeper analysis of the high performance sports system, including the AIS strategy and future direction of the AIS campus, commenced prior to the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. This analysis includes an evaluation of individual sports' abilities to contribute to high performance outcomes. The outcomes of this analysis will complement this review. 
  • Sport and physical recreation volunteersAustralian Bureau of Statistics (Perspectives on Sport series), Catalogue Number 4156.0.55.001 (October 2008). Voluntary work enables many sporting clubs to deliver community services. Volunteering helps to develop and reinforce social networks and cohesion within communities. Sports and physical recreation organisations attracted the largest number and proportion of volunteers, 1.7 million people or 11.1% of the population. 
  • Sport and Social Capital, Australia, 2010Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4917.0, (March 2012) Final. This report examines the relationship between participation in sport and physical recreation and social wellbeing using a range of indicators from the 2010 General Social Survey (GSS). This report shows the associations between participation and a range of social indicators that may be used to assess social capital and wellbeing. Literature suggests that volunteering in the community is an important contributor to the development and maintenance of social capital (Nicholson & Hoye 2008). Data from the GSS show that sport participants are an important source of volunteers in the community. Over three quarters of those who volunteered their time and services to an organisation also participated in some sport or recreational activity during that same time period. The participation rate for non-volunteers was much lower.
  • Sport’s unsung heroes: Involvement in non-playing rolesAustralian Bureau of Statistics (Perspectives on Sport series), Catalogue Number 4156.0.55.001 (June 2011). Many local sporting clubs rely on volunteers to fill diverse roles; such as coaches, referees, committee members, groundskeepers, and canteen workers; many local sporting clubs rely on volunteers to fill these roles. The time commitment involved, and in some cases the need for specialised skills and knowledge, makes the people who occupy these non-playing roles a valuable community resource. This article looks at the characteristics of people in non-playing roles in the sport and active recreation sector. 
  • State of Volunteering in Australia report (PDF  - 3.7 MB), Volunteering Australia/PWC, (April 2016). The State of Volunteering in Australia report details the trends, demographics, challenges and successes in the volunteering sector in Australia. Volunteering Australia and PwC have conducted a survey to analyse the current state of volunteering in Australia, and to identify opportunities to maximise the potential of the volunteer workforce. The report investigates the following headline question: Are the current volunteer engagement and management practices appropriate for the future? Is there alignment between the types of roles volunteers want to undertake, the sectors they are interested in volunteering in, and the needs of volunteer involving organisations? What is the appropriate framework to support informal volunteering? What are the necessary steps that need to be taken to future proof volunteering? Sport is included as one of the industries/areas of volunteer participation investigated. 
  • Value of Sport, Australia, 2013Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 5156.0.55.002. This publication collates ABS data related to the value of sport. The chapter on volunteers includes information on the number of volunteers by age and sex, family and household type, and their contribution to the labour force. Sport and physical recreation organisations attracted the largest number of volunteers as a sector, 14% of the adult population contribute in some voluntary capacity.
  • Voluntary Work, Australia, 2010Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4441.0 (2011). About 34% of Australians, 6.1 million people, participate in voluntary work. The types of organisations that volunteers gave most time to were sport and physical recreation (37% of all voluntary work hours), religious (22%). community and welfare (21.5%), and education and training (17.5%) organisations.

Research iconResearch

resources iconResources

Individual benefits of volunteering

Volunteers in a line

On a personal level, the act of volunteering has been linked to positive mental, social, and even physical benefits. Research indicates that older volunteers in particular, experience less depression and greater life satisfaction. There also appears to be a ‘volunteering threshold’, i.e. the amount of time engaged in volunteering to derive health benefits. Benefits seem to occur when volunteer time falls in the range of 40 to 100 hours per year (about 1 to 2 hours most weeks). 

When parents volunteer their time to support their children’s sport club activities they may also contribute as role models to their children’s long-term behavioural patterns regarding sport and physical activity. Information from Sport Australia's (formerly Australian Sports Commission) AusPlay Survey indicates that when parents both participate in sport themselves and contribute as a volunteer, they increase the likelihood of their children’s participation. When parents participated in sport and volunteered within a sport club setting, their children’s participation rate was 89%. When parents were not involved as a sport participant themselves or did not act as a club volunteer, their children’s participation rate dropped to 50%. 

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

ReadingReading

  • Australian kids need active, sporty parents (PDF  - 438 KB), Factsheet, AusPlay Survey, Australian Sports Commission, (2017). 
  • The changing face of volunteerism (PDF  - 489 KB), Steggles A, Higher Logic (2014). This paper details some of the challenges facing volunteerism. Associations are embracing a hybrid approach to incorporate alternative engagement opportunities for their membership, thus allowing a much broader audience and greater level of engagement, satisfaction and ultimately, an improved retention rate.
  • Volunteering: Building Stronger Communities, Discussion Paper (PDF  - 1.78 MB), Government of Western Australia, Department for Communities (2010). Volunteers are an invaluable resource to the social, economic, environmental and cultural strength of Western Australia. Active volunteers and well-supported community groups build connected communities by strengthening the ties between people, encouraging participation, and responding to the changing needs of the community.

Report iconReports

  • The Advantage Line: identifying better practice for volunteer management in community rugby clubs, Cuskelly G, Taylor T, Hoye R, Darcy S, Australian Research Council and the Australian Rugby Union (2006). This report provides a descriptive analysis of data collected from Rugby Union clubs and their volunteers. The purpose of this study was to develop a better understanding of how to manage the activities of volunteers.
  • The health benefits of volunteering: A review of recent research (PDF  - 3.0 MB), Corporation for National Community Service, Washington DC (2007). Report Summary (PDF  - 728 KB). A growing body of research indicates that volunteering provides not just social benefits, but individual health benefits as well. Research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and personal health and wellbeing. Volunteers tend to have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression (particularly later in life) than those who do not volunteer. This report offers key findings from this body of research, along with an analysis of the relationship between volunteering and the health and wellbeing of the volunteer.
  • Sport and Social Capital, Australia, 2010Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4917.0, (March 2012) Final. This report examines the relationship between participation in sport and physical recreation and social wellbeing using a range of indicators from the 2010 General Social Survey (GSS). This report shows the associations between participation and a range of social indicators that may be used to assess social capital and wellbeing. Literature suggests that volunteering in the community is an important contributor to the development and maintenance of social capital (Nicholson & Hoye 2008). Data from the GSS show that sport participants are an important source of volunteers in the community. Over three quarters of those who volunteered their time and services to an organisation also participated in some sport or recreational activity during that same time period. The participation rate for non-volunteers was much lower.
  • Sport’s unsung heroes: Involvement in non-playing rolesAustralian Bureau of Statistics (Perspectives on Sport series), Catalogue Number 4156.0.55.001 (June 2011). Many local sporting clubs rely on volunteers to fill diverse roles; such as coaches, referees, committee members, groundskeepers, and canteen workers; many local sporting clubs rely on volunteers to fill these roles. The time commitment involved, and in some cases the need for specialised skills and knowledge, makes the people who occupy these non-playing roles a valuable community resource. This article looks at the characteristics of people in non-playing roles in the sport and active recreation sector.
  • Volunteering is Catching: a study into young people's volunteering in Victoria, Wynne C, Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (2011). This study draws on a contemporary understanding of volunteering that captures both the informal and formal volunteering activities of young people and defines youth volunteering as an activity where young people (aged 12 to 25) freely give their time and energy to benefit another individual, group or community. This report aims to understand the contemporary experience of volunteering for Victoria’s young people.
  • Youth volunteering in Australia: An evidence review (PDF  - 3.7 MB), Walsh L and Black R, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), (2015). The literature shows that young people in Australia do engage in volunteering, both in formal and informal contexts. The drivers of young people’s volunteering activity are varied. The benefits of volunteering for young people are both personal and social and include strengthening social relationships, developing skills, enhancing career prospects, contributing to community and ‘making a difference’. While not specific to the sport sector, the review of literature highlights many of the barriers and facilitators of youth volunteering and the characteristics of volunteers in general.  Sport and recreation is identified as the single largest sector for youth engagement as volunteers.

Research iconResearch

  • Determinants and Outcomes of Volunteer Satisfaction in Mega Sports Events, Daehwan Kim et al., Sustainability, Volume 11(7), (2019). The role of volunteers is an important factor for the sustainability of mega sports events. Key issues in the literature on sports event volunteers are volunteer satisfaction and its determinants and outcomes. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of the fulfillment of volunteers’ psychological needs and Volunteer Management Practices (VMP) on overall volunteer satisfaction, and to test their conditional effects depending on volunteer involvement. Overall volunteer satisfaction was found to positively affect future volunteering intention, spreading positive words regarding sports event volunteering, and intention to visit the host city as tourists. In conclusion, sports event managers need to design an optimal work environment that can fulfill volunteers’ psychological needs and improve VMP to enhance the sustainability of mega sports events. 
  • The impact of volunteer experience at sport mega‐events on intention to continue volunteering: Multigroup path analysis, Hyejin Bang et al., Journal of Community Psychology, (24 December 2018). This study examined the impacts of volunteers’ motivation and satisfaction through Olympic/Paralympic volunteering experiences on their intention to volunteer for future community events and the moderating role of previous volunteering experience in the relationships among motivations, satisfaction, and intention to continue volunteering. Path analysis revealed that among the total sample, motivations had direct and indirect (through satisfaction) effects on intention to volunteer. Results of multigroup path analysis showed that the relationships among motivations, satisfaction, and intention vary by returning and first‐time volunteers, supporting the moderating role of prior volunteering experience in the path model. 
  • Is mid-life social participation associated with cognitive function at age 50? Results from the British National Child Development Study (NCDS), Bowling A, Pikhartova J and Dodgeon B, BMC Psychology, Volume 4, Number 58 (2016). Some studies have indicated that social engagement is associated with better cognitive outcomes later in life. This study investigated the associations between life-course social engagement; including volunteering, sport participation, and civic participation; and cognitive status at age 50. Data were taken from the National Child Development Study in the United Kingdom, a nationally representative, prospective birth cohort of 9119 subjects (4497 men and 4622 women). Cognitive ability was measured at ate 11 years, participation in activities at age 33 years, participation in sports at age 42 years, and cognitive ability (i.e. memory and executive functioning) at age 50 years were analysed; adjusting for social networks and support, behavioural, health, social and socio-economic characteristics. Frequent engagement in physical activity (i.e. sport) and voluntary community activities were significantly and independently associated with cognitive status at age 50 after statistically adjusting for covariates (health and socio-economic status and gender).Being physically active and engaging in civic participation (i.e. volunteering) during mid-life appears to promote cognitive function in later life. The strength of this study is in its longitudinal design, but the authors caution that causation is not implied. This paper contributes to the body of literature on potential behavioural risk factors for cognitive decline and the potential benefits of physical activity and civic participation.
  • Measuring motivation to volunteer for special events, Monga M, Event Management, Volume 10, Number 1 (2006). The author has developed a measurement scale for motivation to volunteer for special events. This article first explores several fundamental aspects of the complexities of the relationship between the volunteer and the event organiser. It then presents a five-dimensional model to better understand the motivations of special event volunteers as measured by a 26-item scale developed on the basis of a literature review on special events and motivation to volunteer. Finally, the scale is tested in a survey and the findings are presented.
  • Pioneer volunteers: the role identity of continuous volunteers at sport events, Fairley S, Green B, O’Brian D and Chalip L, Journal of Sport & Tourism, published online (2 December 2015). This study looks at the role identity of 125 volunteers during lead-up events as well as their participation in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. In addition, a small sample were interviewed 12 years after the Olympics. Six themes described the experience of ‘pioneer volunteers’ (i.e. continuous volunteer participation): (1) friendship and teamwork; (2) prestige; (3) behind the scenes access and knowledge of the event; (4) learning enabled by their experience; (5) a sense of connection with and ownership of the event, and; (6) transition to Games time roles. Pioneer volunteers experienced a strong and sustained identification with their role and sought out continued opportunities to volunteer in future events.
  • Reconsidering the role of training in event volunteers’ satisfaction, Costa C, Chalip L, Green C and Simes C, Sport Management Review, Volume 9, Issue 2 (2006). In order to effectively recruit and tain volunteers, there is a need to identify ways of enhancing their overall satisfaction with the volunteer experience. This study surveyed non-specialist volunteers (N=147) participating in the Sunbelt IndyCarnival. The survey looked at measuring their job satisfaction, evaluation of their training, organisational commitment, sense of community at the event, and satisfaction with their opportunities to share opinions and experiences during training. The survey found their sense of community had a positive effect on their commitment to the event organisation and their commitment to the organisation had a direct effect on their job satisfaction. It is argued that the training of event volunteers should be conceived and designed as an opportunity to build a sense of community among volunteers and staff, so as to enhance volunteer commitment and satisfaction.
  • Volunteer motives and retention in community sport: A study of Australian Rugby Clubs (abstract), Cuskelly G, Taylor T, Darcy S, Australian Journal on Volunteering, Volume 13, Number 2 (2008). The retention of volunteers has been identified as a significant organisational challenge for community sport organisations. In this study, 402 volunteers from community rugby clubs were surveyed about their motivations to volunteer and intention to remain as volunteers. The results indicate that while volunteer motivations are primarily based on altruistic values, intentions of volunteers to remain with their club are only moderately affected by these motives.
  • Volunteer retention in community sport organisations, Cuskelly G, European Sport Management Quarterly, Volume 4, Issue 2 (2004). This paper examines and explains trends in volunteer participation and retention using continuity theory; within the context of government policies aimed at increasing participation in community sport. A secondary analysis of data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2002) is used to illustrate recent volunteer and player participation trends in sport.
  • Volunteering is associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment, Infurna F, Okun M and Grimm K, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Volume 64, Issue 11 (2016). Longitudinal data (1998 to 2012) taken from the Health and Retirement Study (N=13,262) in the United States looked at whether psychosocial factors, such as volunteering, are associated with risk of cognitive impairment. Interviews with subjects age 60 years and older were conducted every two years to collect data and assess the risk of cognitive decline associated with a number of factors. One of the findings from this study was that volunteering regularly over time independently decreased the risk of cognitive impairment over the 14 year period of this study. These findings were independent of other known risk factors for cognitive impairment. Civic engagement among older adults has been associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment, and this knowledge should provide the impetus for possible interventions. Given the increasing number of baby boomers entering old age, these findings support the psychosocial benefits of volunteering.
  • Volunteers and mega sporting events: Developing a research framework (PDF  - 70 KB), Baum T and Lockstone L, International Journal of Event Management Research, Volume 3, Number 1 (2007). This paper seeks to identify the evidence gaps that exist in understanding areas such as what volunteers do at mega sporting events; who they are; what motivates them; how volunteering impacts upon their lives; what associated activities they do surrounding the event in the host city; and the ongoing extent of volunteering.

resources iconResources

  • Handbook on volunteering of migrants in sports clubs and organisations (PDF  - 3.6 MB), European Sport Inclusion Network and Football Association of Ireland (2016). Volunteering plays an important role in bringing people together to achieve common community or societal goals. Sports clubs can provide a focal point for a community, offering common ground where people from diverse backgrounds can collectively work together. This Handbook has been developed as a guide and support for potential volunteers with a migrant background who have an interest in volunteering their time in sport. It has also been developed for local clubs and sports organisations interested in encouraging and involving more people from diverse backgrounds to volunteer within sport.
  • Inclusive Futures: youth leadership and volunteeringYouth Sport Trust, UK (2016). Provides access to resources including good practice guidelines and toolkits to help guide sports clubs and event organisers to support inclusive volunteering opportunities.
  • Older Tasmanian Volunteers. Volunteering can provide people with strong social and community networks that build the capacity and resilience of communities to respond to issues and crises. Some of the benefits of volunteering are told in a series of mini-videos featuring older volunteers and their responses to what it means to be a volunteer.
  • Sport and active recreation programs for people with a disability: A resource for volunteers and staff. La Trobe University has created a website containing free resources and information for volunteers and staff working in the sport and active recreation sector. Sport and active recreation programs provide unique opportunities for people with disabilities to explore their potential and focus on their ability. Funding for this project came from the Victorian Government’s Outdoor Sector Development Fund. ‘Be Prepared’  (PDF  - 6.8 MB), (2014), a resource for volunteers and staff working in the sport and active recreation sector.

Statistics

The AusPlay Survey (AusPlay) is a large scale national population tracking survey funded and led by Sport Australia that tracks Australian sport and physical activity participation behaviours to help inform investment, policy and sport delivery. Some key insights from the most recent survey results relating to volunteers include:
  • Around 16% of people (over the age of 15) participate in a non-playing role in sport (18% men; 14% women). 
  • The most common roles (across both genders) are: coach/instructor/trainer; official; and administrator/committee member.
  • Peak ages for volunteering are 15-17 years and 35-54 years for both men and women.

The 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) General Social Survey report, provided information on the overall number of sport volunteers. According to the report there were 1.8 million Australians who performed volunteer work in sport and physical recreation organisations. These were the most common organisations that people volunteered in (31%). 

The 2012 ABS Sport and Physical Recreation: a statistical overview reported provided greater detail about the motivation of sports organisation volunteers. The three main reasons for volunteering were: (1) to help others in the community (53% of volunteers); (2) personal satisfaction (46%); and (3) personal or family involvement (46%). Other key points from the report include:

    • 93% of sport and recreation volunteers participated in organised sport as a child. The ethos of volunteerism is ‘putting something back’ into the sport system that made an impact upon that person’s overall development.
    • Sport and recreation volunteers are involved in a range of activities, about half of all sports volunteers also volunteered in another type of organisation outside of sport.
    • There was a positive correlation between higher volunteering rates and being born in Australia, employed, and in couple families with children aged under 15 years.
    • 88% of volunteers are persons who are employed, working 41-48 hours per week.
    • Travel time did not appear to impact upon participation in sport and recreation volunteering.
    • There appears to be an association between rates of volunteering and socio-economic status – lower rates of volunteering being associated with socio-economic disadvantage.
    • Lower rates of volunteering are also associated with self-reported health problems.
Unfortunately, the ABS no longer provides updated statistics or analysis relating to volunteering in sport, but other research and evidence suggest that many of these insights and associations remain relevant. 

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

ReadingReading

Report iconReports

  • Active Lives: Adult Survey, May 17/18 ReportSport England, (October 2018).  The third Active Lives Adult Report, released in October 2018, found that men are much more likely to volunteer in sport and activity (59% male; 41% female). This is in contrast to more general volunteering where men and women were equally represented.  Additionally, male volunteers in sport more often held positions of influence as coaches, officials, and committee members. The report also found that people from lower socio-economic groups were less likely to volunteer (making up only 12% of volunteers although they make up 31% of the population), and people with a disability, who make up 21% of the population, account for only 12% of volunteers. 
  • The AusPlay Survey (AusPlay) is a large scale national population tracking survey funded and led by Sport Australia that tracks Australian sport and physical activity participation behaviours to help inform investment, policy and sport delivery. Current and past survey results and reports are available online.  
  • Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector (PDF  - 4.2 MB), Australian Government, Productivity Commission, research report (2010). This report provides information on: (1) improving the measurement of the sector's contributions, and (2) promoting productivity and social innovation. The report highlights in many different sections the economic and social benefits that volunteering has on the not-for-profit sector generally.
  • The economic contribution of sport to Australia (PDF  - 717 KB), Frontier Economics report to the Australian Sports Commission (2010). There are three main ways in which sport delivers economic benefits to society: (1) promotion of physical activity for public health benefit delivers an estimated saving of $12 billion in health care costs, (2) labour input of volunteers is valued at around $4 billion, and (3) the international success of elite Australian sportspeople is one of the most significant measurable positive impacts on social well-being; with a value that is likely to exceed the current annual budget for elite sports.
  • General Social Survey 2014Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4159.0, (2015). This report provides a breakdown of the volunteer characteristics and hours which indicate that Australians had volunteered for 157.5 million hours in the previous 12 months. With 11.5% of volunteers donating 200 hours or more to sport and physical recreation organisations. The most common type of organisations that people volunteer for are sport and physical recreation organisations (31 per cent).
  • Intergenerational review of Australian sport 2017 (PDF  - 1.9 MB), Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for the Australian Sports Commission, (2017). This review focused on the overall sports sector, with a particular emphasis on participation in sport and community level sport. While the synergies between participation and high performance sporting outcomes are recognised as being important to any discussion about the value of sport, the ASC’s high performance strategy is reviewed as part of the Olympic cycle. A separate, deeper analysis of the high performance sports system, including the AIS strategy and future direction of the AIS campus, commenced prior to the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. This analysis includes an evaluation of individual sports' abilities to contribute to high performance outcomes. The outcomes of this analysis will complement this review. 
  • Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity, Australia, 2010, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 6285.0 (2010) Final. This report provides a breakdown, by characteristics, of people who are involved with organised sports.
  • Involvement in organised sport as a coach, instructor, referee, or umpireAustralian Bureau of Statistics (Perspectives on Sport series), Catalogue Number 4156.0.55.001 (October 2008). Results from the ABS survey of Involvement in Sport and Physical Activity conducted in 2007 show that 1.6 million people or 9.9% of the population aged 15 years and over were involved in one or more non-playing roles. This included 659,000 (4.0%) who were involved as a coach, instructor or teacher and 381,000 (2.3%) who were involved as a referee or umpire.
  • Sport and Physical Recreation: a statistical overview, Australia 2012, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4156.0. This report provides information on the overall number of sport volunteers. According to the report there are 2.3 million Australians who perform volunteer work in sport and recreation organisations.  volunteers in sports organisations reported a variety of reasons for volunteering, with the three main reasons being: (1) to help others in the community (53% of volunteers); (2) personal satisfaction (46%); and (3) personal or family involvement (46%).
  • Sport and physical recreation volunteersAustralian Bureau of Statistics (Perspectives on Sport series), Catalogue Number 4156.0.55.001 (October 2008). Voluntary work enables many sporting clubs to deliver community services. Volunteering helps to develop and reinforce social networks and cohesion within communities. Sports and physical recreation organisations attracted the largest number and proportion of volunteers, 1.7 million people or 11.1% of the population. 
  • Sustainable Australia Report 2013: Conversations with the futureAustralian Government, National Sustainability Council (2013). This report provides statistical information and analysis on key trends and emerging issues regarding Australia’s sustainability and the lifestyle of Australians. It provides an overview of volunteers in sport, and participation trends. Chapter 13, ‘Social Indicators’ contains information on volunteering (p. 132) in both participation level sport and organised sport (p.136). .
  • Value of Sport, Australia, 2013Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 5156.0.55.002. This publication collates ABS data related to the value of sport. The chapter on volunteers includes information on the number of volunteers by age and sex, family and household type, and their contribution to the labour force. Sport and physical recreation organisations attracted the largest number of volunteers as a sector, 14% of the adult population contribute in some voluntary capacity.
  • Voluntary Work, Australia, 2010Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4441.0 (2011). About 34% of Australians, 6.1 million people, participate in voluntary work. The types of organisations that volunteers gave most time to were sport and physical recreation (37% of all voluntary work hours), religious (22%). community and welfare (21.5%), and education and training (17.5%) organisations.
  • Volunteers in Sport, Australia, 2010Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4440.0.55.001 (March 2012) Final. Data from the 2010 General Social Survey of the Australian population provides information about various aspects of volunteering and how these may relate to each other. This report provides a detailed analysis of the characteristics of volunteers in sport and physical recreation. People volunteering in the sport sector are split into two categories; volunteers in sport and physical recreation organisations only, and volunteers who participate in sport and other organisation(s). 

Research iconResearch

  • Sport Volunteers and Other Volunteers: Some Data From the 2002 General Social Survey (PDF  - 152 KB), Australian Bureau of Statistics prepared for the Standing Committee on Recreation & Sport, (May 2005). This report completes a project on the 2004-05 SCORS Research Group (SRG) Work Plan to analyse data from the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) as relevant to volunteers with a view to determining the population groups more likely to volunteer, and any social factors that may act as motivators.   
  • Youth sport volunteer coach motivation, Busser J and Carruthers C, Managing Sport and Leisure, Volume 15, Issue 1-2 (2010). This study explored the motivations of youth sport coaches. A sample of youth sport coaches completed the Volunteer Functions Inventory that measures motivations. Demographic information was also collected. Results indicated that values were the most important function for youth sport volunteer coaches. Implications for the recruitment and retention of youth sport coaches and future research are discussed.  

Factors influencing volunteer participation

    Barriers

    • Personal: time constraints/other commitments; overload; interpersonal issues; not knowing what opportunities exist/match skills. 
    • Organisational: bureaucratic procedures; poor communication and/or guidance; club politics; increasing expectations (players, members, parents, etc.). 
    • Social: community size (small-medium communities tend to have higher participation rates), gender (men are more likely to volunteer, or volunteer in certain roles); socio-economic status; having a disability; self-reported health problems. 

    Motivators

    • Personal: connecting with community; developing skills; enhancing career prospects; to feel good (self-esteem), participating in the sport.
    • Organisational: clear communication of expectations and guidelines; recognition, training and mentoring opportunities; positive community/club culture.
    • Social: strengthening social relationships; contributing to community; ‘making a difference’.

Engaging volunteers

In 2014 the Australian Sports Commission conducted research on volunteer involvement in the sport sector to gain insights that may help sports organisations develop targeted and effective volunteer recruitment and retention strategies. The primary purpose of the Market Segmentation for Volunteers study was to identify the core set of attitudes, motivators, needs, and barriers that underpin Australians’ decisions to volunteer in sport, including at club level and other types of sports related volunteering, as compared to other (non-sport) voluntary activities. The information was used to develop a needs-based market segmentation model of Australian sports volunteers.

This research identified segments of the Australian community with the greatest potential for recruitment as sports volunteers, as well as assessing best practices and strategies for the recruitment and retention of current volunteers. Attitudinal segmentation is a useful means of grouping people within the broader population into segments with similar dispositions towards volunteering. Segmentation across the Australian population, aged 14-75 years, resulted in 10 identified types of persons, based on characteristics related to their attitudes to volunteering and current volunteering behaviour.

  1. Happy Helpers – volunteers who support their family in their activities by volunteering in club sport. These volunteers are likely to be involved in multiple activities.
  2. Community Committed – these volunteers are motivated by the social interaction and enjoyment that volunteering offers. They have a feeling a of identity and commitment to a community organisation and its future.
  3. Opportunists – this group of persons volunteer to gain a personal benefit, such as practical skills or work experience. They also enjoy being part of the atmosphere of a sporting environment, or having the chance to meet elite athletes or sporting personalities.
  4. Altruists – these volunteers have a desire to help others, to give back to the community, and to help the disadvantaged.
  5. Overcommitted – these persons volunteer because they feel it is expected of them. They often feel they could use their time elsewhere.
  6. Occupied Observers – this group is not averse to volunteering for club sport, but they simply have other priorities and most likely to volunteer if their own child is directly involved.
  7. Sidelined – persons who are open minded about volunteering, but injury, lack of time, or some other personal reason becomes a barrier.
  8. Self Servers – this group is yet to find a cause they feel passionate about. They may be motivated if they perceive a personal benefit.
  9. Well Intentioned – this group has no real reason to volunteer within the sport sector. They are unlikely to be sports participants themselves.
  10. Uninvolved – this group has little interest in either sport or volunteering in general.

Each segment has its own set of challenges and opportunities that sports organisations must recognise and address if they are to recruit and then retain volunteers with a particular mindset. For example, both Happy Helpers and Overcommitted persons are likely to volunteer, but the challenge for club sport is to retain them as a volunteer across different life-stages, particularly once their child has moved-on from being a sport participant. Likewise, Community Committed individuals are easily recruited, but the challenge for the club is to manage their enthusiasm to ensure their loyalty and commitment to the organisation does not intimidate new volunteers.

Self ServersSidelined and Occupied Observers are likely segments for clubs to attract new volunteers from. Clubs may be able to attract Self Servers if they can offer volunteer experiences that are tangible and provide personal benefit of some kind, such as learning useful skills or gaining valuable work experience. Because the Sidelined segment likes sport, they may be encouraged to volunteer if they can occupy a role that fits within their capabilities and other commitments. The Occupied Observer may be encouraged into volunteering if their role can be shaped to accommodate their overall time commitments.

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

ReadingReading

Report iconReports

  • Active Lives: Adult Survey, May 17/18 ReportSport England, (October 2018).  The third Active Lives Adult Report, released in October 2018, found that men are much more likely to volunteer in sport and activity (59% male; 41% female). This is in contrast to more general volunteering where men and women were equally represented.  Additionally, male volunteers in sport more often held positions of influence as coaches, officials, and committee members. The report also found that people from lower socio-economic groups were less likely to volunteer (making up only 12% of volunteers although they make up 31% of the population), and people with a disability, who make up 21% of the population, account for only 12% of volunteers. 
  • General Social Survey 2014Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4159.0, (2015). This report provides a breakdown of the volunteer characteristics and hours which indicate that Australians had volunteered for 157.5 million hours in the previous 12 months. With 11.5% of volunteers donating 200 hours or more to sport and physical recreation organisations. 
  • The health benefits of volunteering: A review of recent research (PDF  - 3.0 MB), Corporation for National Community Service, Washington DC (2007). Report Summary (PDF  - 728 KB). A growing body of research indicates that volunteering provides not just social benefits, but individual health benefits as well. Research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and personal health and wellbeing. Volunteers tend to have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression (particularly later in life) than those who do not volunteer. This report offers key findings from this body of research, along with an analysis of the relationship between volunteering and the health and wellbeing of the volunteer.
  • Market Segmentation Study for VolunteersAustralian Sports Commission (2014). The key findings of this research help identify the motivations of volunteers in the sport sector. This study identified ten segments among the Australian adult population, five are considered to be likely sources for the recruitment and retention of volunteers to the sport sector: Happy Helpers, Community Committed, Overcommitted, Opportunists, and Altruists. There are also five segments of the population less likely to become volunteers: Self Servers, Sidelined, Occupied Observers, Well Intentioned, and Uninvolved. This research confirms that the sport sector is doing some things really well, with nearly all club volunteers reporting they were satisfied with their experience. The study also provides key insights for the sport sector to better understand their volunteer workforce and how they might need to manage them into the future.
  • Sport and Physical Recreation: a statistical overview, Australia 2011, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4156.0. This report provides information on the overall number of sport volunteers. According to the report there are 2.3 million Australians who perform volunteer work in sport and recreation organisations.  volunteers in sports organisations reported a variety of reasons for volunteering, with the three main reasons being: (1) to help others in the community (53% of volunteers); (2) personal satisfaction (46%); and (3) personal or family involvement (46%). Other key points from the report include:
    • 93% of sport and recreation volunteers participated in organised sport as a child. The ethos of volunteerism is ‘putting something back’ into the sport system that made an impact upon that person’s overall development.
    • Sport and recreation volunteers are involved in a range of activities, about half of all sports volunteers also volunteered in another type of organisation outside of sport.
    • There was a positive correlation between higher volunteering rates and being born in Australia, employed, and in couple families with children aged under 15 years.
    • 88% of volunteers are persons who are employed, working 41-48 hours per week.
    • Travel time did not appear to impact upon participation in sport and recreation volunteering.
    • There appears to be an association between rates of volunteering and socio-economic status – lower rates of volunteering being associated with socio-economic disadvantage.
    • Lower rates of volunteering are also associated with self-reported health problems.
  • Sport and Social Capital, Australia, 2010Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4917.0, (March 2012) Final. This report examines the relationship between participation in sport and physical recreation and social wellbeing using a range of indicators from the 2010 General Social Survey (GSS). This report shows the associations between participation and a range of social indicators that may be used to assess social capital and wellbeing. Literature suggests that volunteering in the community is an important contributor to the development and maintenance of social capital (Nicholson & Hoye 2008). Data from the GSS show that sport participants are an important source of volunteers in the community. Over three quarters of those who volunteered their time and services to an organisation also participated in some sport or recreational activity during that same time period. The participation rate for non-volunteers was much lower.
  • Sport’s unsung heroes: Involvement in non-playing rolesAustralian Bureau of Statistics (Perspectives on Sport series), Catalogue Number 4156.0.55.001 (June 2011). Many local sporting clubs rely on volunteers to fill diverse roles; such as coaches, referees, committee members, groundskeepers, and canteen workers; many local sporting clubs rely on volunteers to fill these roles. The time commitment involved, and in some cases the need for specialised skills and knowledge, makes the people who occupy these non-playing roles a valuable community resource. This article looks at the characteristics of people in non-playing roles in the sport and active recreation sector.
  • State of Volunteering in Australia report (PDF  - 3.7 MB), Volunteering Australia/PWC, (April 2016). The State of Volunteering in Australia report details the trends, demographics, challenges and successes in the volunteering sector in Australia. Volunteering Australia and PwC have conducted a survey to analyse the current state of volunteering in Australia, and to identify opportunities to maximise the potential of the volunteer workforce. The report investigates the following headline question: Are the current volunteer engagement and management practices appropriate for the future? Is there alignment between the types of roles volunteers want to undertake, the sectors they are interested in volunteering in, and the needs of volunteer involving organisations? What is the appropriate framework to support informal volunteering? What are the necessary steps that need to be taken to future proof volunteering? Sport is included as one of the industries/areas of volunteer participation investigated. 
  • Volunteering is Catching: a study into young people's volunteering in Victoria, Wynne C, Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (2011). This study draws on a contemporary understanding of volunteering that captures both the informal and formal volunteering activities of young people and defines youth volunteering as an activity where young people (aged 12 to 25) freely give their time and energy to benefit another individual, group or community. This report aims to understand the contemporary experience of volunteering for Victoria’s young people.
  • Volunteers in Sport, Australia, 2010Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4440.0.55.001 (March 2012) Final. Data from the 2010 General Social Survey of the Australian population provides information about various aspects of volunteering and how these may relate to each other. This report provides a detailed analysis of the characteristics of volunteers in sport and physical recreation. People volunteering in the sport sector are split into two categories; volunteers in sport and physical recreation organisations only, and volunteers who participate in sport and other organisation(s).
  • Youth volunteering in Australia: An evidence review (PDF  - 3.7 MB), Walsh L and Black R, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), (2015). The literature shows that young people in Australia do engage in volunteering, both in formal and informal contexts. The drivers of young people’s volunteering activity are varied. The benefits of volunteering for young people are both personal and social and include strengthening social relationships, developing skills, enhancing career prospects, contributing to community and ‘making a difference’. While not specific to the sport sector, the review of literature highlights many of the barriers and facilitators of youth volunteering and the characteristics of volunteers in general.  Sport and recreation is identified as the single largest sector for youth engagement as volunteers. 

Research iconResearch

  • Determinants and Outcomes of Volunteer Satisfaction in Mega Sports Events, Daehwan Kim et al., Sustainability, Volume 11(7), (2019). The role of volunteers is an important factor for the sustainability of mega sports events. Key issues in the literature on sports event volunteers are volunteer satisfaction and its determinants and outcomes. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of the fulfillment of volunteers’ psychological needs and Volunteer Management Practices (VMP) on overall volunteer satisfaction, and to test their conditional effects depending on volunteer involvement. Overall volunteer satisfaction was found to positively affect future volunteering intention, spreading positive words regarding sports event volunteering, and intention to visit the host city as tourists. In conclusion, sports event managers need to design an optimal work environment that can fulfill volunteers’ psychological needs and improve VMP to enhance the sustainability of mega sports events. 
  • The impact of volunteer experience at sport mega‐events on intention to continue volunteering: Multigroup path analysis, Hyejin Bang et al., Journal of Community Psychology, (24 December 2018). This study examined the impacts of volunteers’ motivation and satisfaction through Olympic/Paralympic volunteering experiences on their intention to volunteer for future community events and the moderating role of previous volunteering experience in the relationships among motivations, satisfaction, and intention to continue volunteering. Path analysis revealed that among the total sample, motivations had direct and indirect (through satisfaction) effects on intention to volunteer. Results of multigroup path analysis showed that the relationships among motivations, satisfaction, and intention vary by returning and first‐time volunteers, supporting the moderating role of prior volunteering experience in the path model. 
  • Modelling the decision to volunteer in organised sports, Hallmann K, Sport Management Review, Volume 18, Issue 3 (2015). This paper looks at the available literature which identifies the determinants of volunteers in organised sports, and the time committed to that volunteering. The decision to volunteer can be considered a form of private consumption choice. Individuals have time at their disposal which they can be devoted to work or leisure; volunteering is only one of many choices. Considering both the decline in voluntary service and the necessity for most non-profit sporting clubs to recruit volunteers, it becomes essential to understand the drivers of volunteering. The theoretical model presented by the author contains factors from four domains: (1) demographics (age, gender, cultural background); (2) economic indicators (employment status, income, human capital); (3) sociological indicators (community engagement), and; (4) psychological indicators (preferences and experiences). The strength of each factor is estimated using a mathematical model.  
  • Organisational and occupational commitment as predictors of volunteer coaches’ burnout, Engelberg T, Stipis C, Kippin B, Spillman S and Burbidge K, Australian Journal on Volunteering, Volume 14, Number 1 (2009). This research examined the organisational and the occupational commitment of volunteer coaches in community-based sporting organisations and the implications of such commitment for coaches' experience of burnout. The findings suggest that commitment to the coaching role may be an important aspect of volunteer coaches' sense of self.
  • Sport Volunteers and Other Volunteers: Some Data From the 2002 General Social Survey (PDF  - 152 KB), Australian Bureau of Statistics prepared for the Standing Committee on Recreation & Sport, (May 2005). This report completes a project on the 2004-05 SCORS Research Group (SRG) Work Plan to analyse data from the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) as relevant to volunteers with a view to determining the population groups more likely to volunteer, and any social factors that may act as motivators.   
  • Volunteer motives and retention in community sport: A study of Australian Rugby Clubs (abstract), Cuskelly G, Taylor T, Darcy S, Australian Journal on Volunteering, Volume 13, Number 2 (2008). The retention of volunteers has been identified as a significant organisational challenge for community sport organisations. In this study, 402 volunteers from community rugby clubs were surveyed about their motivations to volunteer and intention to remain as volunteers. The results indicate that while volunteer motivations are primarily based on altruistic values, intentions of volunteers to remain with their club are only moderately affected by these motives.
  • Volunteering in sport is more prevalent in small (but not tiny) communities: Insights from 19 countries, Balish S, Rainham D and Blanchard C, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, published online (5 January 2016). Research suggests members of smaller communities are more likely to play sport. This study looked at whether members of smaller communities are also more likely to volunteer in sport. Data were acquired from the World Value Survey and analysis involved 22,461 participants from 19 countries. After controlling for country-level demographic variables (including sport participation), participants from communities with between 2,000-20,000 residents were more likely to report volunteering in sport, compared to participants from larger communities (> 500,000 population). The effect of community size occurred for all measured forms of volunteering. These findings provide novel evidence that participants from smaller communities are more likely to volunteer, even when controlling for sport participation. Future research will be needed to reveal the specific determinants and consequences of sport volunteering in smaller communities.
  • We can do it: Community, resistance, social solidarity, and long-term volunteering at a sport event, Kristiansen E, Skirstad B, Parent M and Waddington I, Sport Management Review, Volume 18, Issue 2 (2015). This study aimed to contextualise the long-term commitment found in a whole community of volunteers and to explain this pattern of ‘collective volunteering’ not in terms of individual motivations, but in terms of broader social processes. Data was collected from interviews with volunteers in Norway who took part in events during the years leading up to the 2013 World Cup in ski flying. This research suggests that long-term volunteering can be understood in terms of: (1) a high level of social integration; (2) the creation of a collective identity focused around the sport, and; (3) the maintenance and reinforcement of strong community identity and social solidarity.
  • Youth sport volunteer coach motivation, Busser J and Carruthers C, Managing Sport and Leisure, Volume 15(1-2), pp.128-139, (2010). This study explored the motivations of youth sport coaches. A sample of youth sport coaches completed the Volunteer Functions Inventory that measures motivations. Demographic information was also collected. Results indicated that values were the most important function for youth sport volunteer coaches. Implications for the recruitment and retention of youth sport coaches and future research are discussed.

resources iconResources

  • Older Tasmanian Volunteers. Volunteering can provide people with strong social and community networks that build the capacity and resilience of communities to respond to issues and crises. Some of the benefits of volunteering are told in a series of mini-videos featuring older volunteers and their responses to what it means to be a volunteer. 

Volunteer management - good practice

In order to maintain and enhance this personal satisfaction, volunteers should be recognised for their contribution to the organisations they serve. Developing and implementing a 'Volunteer Management Plan', or similar, helps to ensure that volunteers are managed in accordance with 'best practice' principles, suitably recognised and appreciated. Generally, research and evidence indicates that a planned approach to managing sport sector volunteers and their volunteer experience will enhance satisfaction and improve retention. 

Volunteer involvement is a two-way relationship, providing an opportunity for organisations to achieve their goals by involving volunteers in their activities, and for volunteers to make meaningful use of their time and skills, contributing to social and community outcomes. The general principles of good practice by organisations engaging volunteers are outlined in the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement (2015).

The National Standards have been developed in consultation with the volunteering sector to support the involvement of volunteers and act as a resource for organisations. They provide a framework for organisations to consider the role of volunteers within an organisation and the effective impact that volunteer involvement can have on achieving the strategic goals and aims of the organisation.

The National Standards have been designed to:

  • incorporate the values and maximise the benefits of volunteer involvement;
  • develop effective volunteer involvement strategies and practices;
  • involve volunteers in meaningful and useful activities that contribute to the outcomes of the organisation’s work; and
  • ensure the rights of volunteers are protected and that they are supported to carry out their roles and responsibilities.

The National Standards also incorporate four principles that are part of good practice:

  1. Volunteer involvement should be a considered and planned part of an organisation’s strategic development, aligning with the organisation’s strategic aims and incorporated into its evaluation framework.
  2. Effective volunteer involvement requires organisational leadership and a culture and structure that supports and values the role of volunteers.
  3. Volunteers have rights, which include the right to work in a safe and supportive environment with appropriate infrastructure and effective management practices.
  4. Volunteers have responsibilities, which include acting responsibly, being accountable for their actions to the organisation, and respecting the organisation’s values and practices.

Organisations, and the volunteers they engage, share mutual responsibilities in terms of compliance with state-based child protection legislation. Volunteers may be required to undergo a vetting process that includes a background screening check in accordance with state-base child protection legislation. More information about child protection measures in sport can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic, Child Protection in Sport

At the community sport level, volunteers make a large contribution through club coaching and officiating. More information about the scope/contribution of volunteers can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topics, Community Sport Coaching and Community Sport Officiating.

Safe Work Australia has undertaken harmonisation of health and safety legislation. A national model, Work Health and Safety Act 2011, takes the place of individual state laws. The current legislation affords the same rights and responsibilities to volunteers as to paid staff in organisations with both types of workers.

More information about workforce development in the sport sector can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic, Sport Workforce Development.

Volunteers make a significant contribution to major international, national and local events but managing event volunteers presents a different set of challenges to managing volunteers in ongoing settings. Therefore, our understanding of the motivations that underpin the act of volunteering may help in planning future events. Evidence suggests that when the volunteering experience is satisfying, there is a greater likelihood of future volunteering. 

Each successive Olympic Games has built upon the experience of past Games in mobilising a trained and committed voluntary workforce. A number of reports have documented the London 2012 experience of volunteers. Their contribution to the successful staging of the Games was significant.

The 2011 Rugby World Cup was supported by New Zealand's biggest ever volunteer effort. Officially called the Rugby World Cup 2011 Volunteer Programme, it saw an unpaid workforce of more than 5000 play a crucial role in the delivery of a great sporting event. Sport NZ provided a detailed resource which covered planning, recruitment, training, volunteer compliance, uniform distribution, scheduling, reward and recognition, research and reporting.

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

books iconBooks

ReadingReading

Report iconReports

  • The Advantage Line: identifying better practice for volunteer management in community rugby clubs, Cuskelly G, Taylor T, Hoye R, Darcy S, Australian Research Council and the Australian Rugby Union (2006). This report provides a descriptive analysis of data collected from Rugby Union clubs and their volunteers. The purpose of this study was to develop a better understanding of how to manage the activities of volunteers.
  • Evaluating the volunteering infrastructure legacy of the Olympic Games: Sydney 2000 and London 2012 (PDF  - 892 KB), Leonie Lockstone-Binney, Kirsten Holmes, Richard Shipway, and Karen A. Smith, International Olympic Committee Olympic Studies Centre Advanced Olympic Research Grant Programme 2015/16, Final Report, (June 2016). The current study sought to explore how Olympic volunteer programmes can lead to post- Games volunteer legacies for host cities through engagement with the established volunteer infrastructure in host cities, based on the experiences from Sydney 2000 and London 2012. The authors provide recommendations relating to the required resources, structures, delivery mechanisms, strategy, and knowledge transfer that could facilitate better volunteer outcomes/engagement for future projects.
  • London 2012 Games markers: Towards redefining legacy (PDF  - 265 KB), Dickson T and Banson A, Government of the United Kingdom, Department of Culture, Media & Sport (2013). Volunteering is an essential aspect of many mega-sporting events with stakeholder rhetoric suggesting that it is desirable and that these events will leave a ‘volunteering legacy’ beyond the Games. For London, work among a wide range of stakeholders has created a new volunteering spirit and an improved volunteer network with more opportunities and better training for those who want to give their most important commodity – time.
  • Market Segmentation Study for VolunteersAustralian Sports Commission (2014). The key findings of this research help identify the motivations of volunteers in the sport sector. This study identified ten segments among the Australian adult population, five are considered to be likely sources for the recruitment and retention of volunteers to the sport sector: Happy Helpers, Community Committed, Overcommitted, Opportunists, and Altruists. There are also five segments of the population less likely to become volunteers: Self Servers, Sidelined, Occupied Observers, Well Intentioned, and Uninvolved. This research confirms that the sport sector is doing some things really well, with nearly all club volunteers reporting they were satisfied with their experience. The study also provides key insights for the sport sector to better understand their volunteer workforce and how they might need to manage them into the future.
  • State of Volunteering in Australia report (PDF  - 3.7 MB), Volunteering Australia/PWC, (April 2016). The State of Volunteering in Australia report details the trends, demographics, challenges and successes in the volunteering sector in Australia. Volunteering Australia and PwC have conducted a survey to analyse the current state of volunteering in Australia, and to identify opportunities to maximise the potential of the volunteer workforce. The report investigates the following headline question: Are the current volunteer engagement and management practices appropriate for the future? Is there alignment between the types of roles volunteers want to undertake, the sectors they are interested in volunteering in, and the needs of volunteer involving organisations? What is the appropriate framework to support informal volunteering? What are the necessary steps that need to be taken to future proof volunteering? Sport is included as one of the industries/areas of volunteer participation investigated. 
  • Volunteers, champions of the Games - IOC summary of the importance of volunteerism to the London Olympic Games. 
  • Volunteers in Sport: Issues and Innovations, Turner K, NSW Office of Sport (2008). This study documents innovative practices used by NSW sports clubs to address the challenges of attracting and retaining volunteers.
  • Volunteer management practices and retention of volunteers (PDF  - 304 KB), Hager M and Brudney J, The Urban Institute (2004). This report is the second in a series of briefs reporting on the findings of a survey conducted in 2003 regarding volunteer management capacity among charities and not-for-profit organisations in the United States. Specifically, the survey looked at supervision and communication with volunteers, liability coverage for volunteers, screening and matching volunteers to jobs, collection of information on volunteer involvement, written policies and job descriptions for volunteers, recognition activities, measurement of volunteer impact, training and professional development for volunteers, and training for paid staff in managing a volunteer workforce. 

Research iconResearch

  • Determinants and Outcomes of Volunteer Satisfaction in Mega Sports Events, Daehwan Kim et al., Sustainability, Volume 11(7), (2019). The role of volunteers is an important factor for the sustainability of mega sports events. Key issues in the literature on sports event volunteers are volunteer satisfaction and its determinants and outcomes. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of the fulfillment of volunteers’ psychological needs and Volunteer Management Practices (VMP) on overall volunteer satisfaction, and to test their conditional effects depending on volunteer involvement. Overall volunteer satisfaction was found to positively affect future volunteering intention, spreading positive words regarding sports event volunteering, and intention to visit the host city as tourists. In conclusion, sports event managers need to design an optimal work environment that can fulfill volunteers’ psychological needs and improve VMP to enhance the sustainability of mega sports events. 
  • Exploring the relationship between commitment, experience, and self-assessed performance in youth sport organizations, Engelberg T, Skinner J and Zakus D, Sports Management Review, Volume 14, Issue 2 (2011). A sample drawn from Little Athletics centre volunteers in Queensland, serving in a variety of roles, completed a survey to assess their involvement and knowledge. Findings show that organisational commitment and experience as a volunteer predicted involvement, and that commitment to the role and experience predicted knowledge.
  • How do sports clubs recruit volunteers? Analyzing and developing a typology of decision-making processes on recruiting volunteers in sport clubs, Schlesinger T, Klenk C and Nagel S, Sport Management Review, Volume 18, Issue 2 (2015). This article examines the decision-making processes in the recruitment of volunteers. Data was collected from nine case studies of selected sport clubs. Results showed that the decision-making processes are generally characterised by a reactive approach, rather than a strategic one. Decision-making seems to be shaped frequently by inconsistency, unexpected outcomes, and randomness. This leads to the question how can decision-making processes in sport clubs be examined adequately? It was possible to develop a typology that gives an overview of how different decision-making practices interact; situational versus systematic decisions, and top-down versus bottom-up driven decisions. The most effective practices were the result of top-down and systematic decision-making. The least effective practices were driven by situational decision-making, regardless of whether the decision was made using a top-down or bottom-up approach. The researchers concluded that recruitment practices in sports clubs cannot be modelled on comparable practices in the corporate sector. The key to successful recruitment practices lies in the commitment and competence of the central decision-makers within the club who are responsible for club policy.
  • Identifying Competencies of Volunteer Board Members of Community Sports Clubs, Anne-Line Balduck, Annic Van Rossem, Marc Buelens, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, (30 April 2009). This study contributes to the emerging empirical studies on roles and responsibilities of boards in nonprofit organizations by identifying competencies of volunteer board members. We identified how two types of constituents—volunteer board members and sports members—perceived competencies of volunteer board members in community sports clubs. We used the repertory grid technique to draw cognitive maps and to reveal the perceived reality of these constituents. Our results suggest that constituents within a group share similar perceptions of competencies of outstanding performing board members, whereas they agree less on perceptions of poor performing board members. This study reveals that cognitive (e.g., having a long-term vision, having professionalism), emotional intelligence (e.g., being reliable, being honest), and social intelligence (e.g., listening to others, being jovial/nice to be with) competencies are necessary to be perceived as an outstanding performing board member.
  • The impact of volunteer experience at sport mega‐events on intention to continue volunteering: Multigroup path analysis, Hyejin Bang et al., Journal of Community Psychology, (24 December 2018). This study examined the impacts of volunteers’ motivation and satisfaction through Olympic/Paralympic volunteering experiences on their intention to volunteer for future community events and the moderating role of previous volunteering experience in the relationships among motivations, satisfaction, and intention to continue volunteering. Path analysis revealed that among the total sample, motivations had direct and indirect (through satisfaction) effects on intention to volunteer. Results of multigroup path analysis showed that the relationships among motivations, satisfaction, and intention vary by returning and first‐time volunteers, supporting the moderating role of prior volunteering experience in the path model. 
  • Measuring motivation to volunteer for special events, Monga M, Event Management, Volume 10, Number 1 (2006). The author has developed a measurement scale for motivation to volunteer for special events. This article first explores several fundamental aspects of the complexities of the relationship between the volunteer and the event organiser. It then presents a five-dimensional model to better understand the motivations of special event volunteers as measured by a 26-item scale developed on the basis of a literature review on special events and motivation to volunteer. Finally, the scale is tested in a survey and the findings are presented.
  • A model of volunteer retention in youth sport, Kim M, Chelladurai P and Trail G, Journal of Sport Management, Volume 21 (2007). The focus of this study was to investigate three different volunteer-retention models: (1)person-task fit); (2) person–organisation fit, and; (3) managerial treatment. Volunteer  organisations need to focus on empowering their volunteers through the fit of the volunteer structure to the task, organisation, and appropriate managerial treatment.
  • Pioneer volunteers: the role identity of continuous volunteers at sport events, Fairley S, Green B, O’Brian D and Chalip L, Journal of Sport & Tourism, published online (2 December 2015). This study looks at the role identity of 125 volunteers during lead-up events as well as their participation in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. In addition, a small sample were interviewed 12 years after the Olympics. Six themes described the experience of ‘pioneer volunteers’ (i.e. continuous volunteer participation): (1) friendship and teamwork; (2) prestige; (3) behind the scenes access and knowledge of the event; (4) learning enabled by their experience; (5) a sense of connection with and ownership of the event, and; (6) transition to Games time roles. Pioneer volunteers experienced a strong and sustained identification with their role and sought out continued opportunities to volunteer in future events.
  • Reconsidering the role of training in event volunteers’ satisfaction, Costa C, Chalip L, Green C and Simes C, Sport Management Review, Volume 9, Issue 2 (2006). In order to effectively recruit and tain volunteers, there is a need to identify ways of enhancing their overall satisfaction with the volunteer experience. This study surveyed non-specialist volunteers (N=147) participating in the Sunbelt IndyCarnival. The survey looked at measuring their job satisfaction, evaluation of their training, organisational commitment, sense of community at the event, and satisfaction with their opportunities to share opinions and experiences during training. The survey found their sense of community had a positive effect on their commitment to the event organisation and their commitment to the organisation had a direct effect on their job satisfaction. It is argued that the training of event volunteers should be conceived and designed as an opportunity to build a sense of community among volunteers and staff, so as to enhance volunteer commitment and satisfaction.
  • Volunteer management practices and volunteer retention: A human resource management approach (PDF  - 1.2 MB), Cuskelly G, Taylor T, Hoye R and Darcy S, Sport Management Review, Volume 9 (2006). This study examines the efficacy of volunteer management practices in predicting perceived problems in volunteer retention. Participants were a sample of 375 Australian Rugby Union clubs from across Australia. Seven volunteer management constructs (planning, recruitment, screening, orientation, training and support, performance management, and recognition) were assessed. This study found significant relationships between perceived retention problems and several of the volunteer management constructs. Clubs that reported more extensive use of planning practices and training and support practices were likely to report significantly fewer perceived problems in the overall retention of volunteers. Results indicated significant relationships between management practices and retention problems, with variances noted by the category of volunteer position (e.g. management committee or board members, coaches, team managers and volunteers in other formal positions). Implications for volunteer management and retention are discussed.  
  • Volunteer motives and retention in community sport: A study of Australian Rugby Clubs (abstract), Cuskelly G, Taylor T, Darcy S, Australian Journal on Volunteering, Volume 13, Number 2 (2008). The retention of volunteers has been identified as a significant organisational challenge for community sport organisations. In this study, 402 volunteers from community rugby clubs were surveyed about their motivations to volunteer and intention to remain as volunteers. The results indicate that while volunteer motivations are primarily based on altruistic values, intentions of volunteers to remain with their club are only moderately affected by these motives.
  • Volunteers and mega sporting events: Developing a research framework (PDF  - 70 KB), Baum T and Lockstone L, International Journal of Event Management Research, Volume 3, Number 1 (2007). This paper seeks to identify the evidence gaps that exist in understanding areas such as what volunteers do at mega sporting events; who they are; what motivates them; how volunteering impacts upon their lives; what associated activities they do surrounding the event in the host city; and the ongoing extent of volunteering.

resources iconResources

  • The Centre for Volunteering NSW provides a number of useful guides and tools for organisations that recruit, train and manage volunteers. Topics covered include: event volunteering, training, youth volunteering, and working with volunteers.
  • Handbook on volunteering of migrants in sports clubs and organisations (PDF  - 3.6 MB), European Sport Inclusion Network and Football Association of Ireland (2016). Volunteering plays an important role in bringing people together to achieve common community or societal goals. Sports clubs can provide a focal point for a community, offering common ground where people from diverse backgrounds can collectively work together. This Handbook has been developed as a guide and support for potential volunteers with a migrant background who have an interest in volunteering their time in sport. It has also been developed for local clubs and sports organisations interested in encouraging and involving more people from diverse backgrounds to volunteer within sport.
  • Inclusive Futures: youth leadership and volunteeringYouth Sport Trust, UK (2016). Provides access to resources including good practice guidelines and toolkits to help guide sports clubs and event organisers to support inclusive volunteering opportunities.
  • Modern Club Management Kit, RSC Solutions, a company focussed on improving management in sport and community organisations, has produced a publication 'Modern Club Management Kit'.
  • The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement (PDF  - 278 KB), Volunteering Australia (2015).
  • National Standards for involving volunteers in not-for-profit organisations (PDF  - 243 KB), second edition, Volunteering Australia (2001). This publication provides a model of best practice in the management of volunteers. The National Standards are a set of three resources, National Standards, an Implementation Guide, and a Workbook.
  • Recruiting volunteers (DOC  - 98 KB), Sport Australia, (accessed 15 April 2019). Fact sheet about good practice in recruiting and orienting new volunteers for an organisation. 
  • Rugby World Cup 2011 volunteering resourcesSport NZ. The 2011 Rugby World Cup was supported by New Zealand's biggest ever volunteer effort. Officially called the Rugby World Cup 2011 Volunteer Programme, it saw an unpaid workforce of more than 5000 play a crucial role in the delivery of a great sporting event. This resource covers planning, recruitment, training, volunteer compliance, uniform distribution, scheduling, reward and recognition, research and reporting.
  • Screening and the volunteer recruitment process (PDF  - 136 KB), Volunteering Australia (2005).
  • Sport and active recreation programs for people with a disability: A resource for volunteers and staff. La Trobe University has created a website containing free resources and information for volunteers and staff working in the sport and active recreation sector. Sport and active recreation programs provide unique opportunities for people with disabilities to explore their potential and focus on their ability. Funding for this project came from the Victorian Government’s Outdoor Sector Development Fund. ‘Be Prepared’  (PDF  - 6.8 MB), (2014), a resource for volunteers and staff working in the sport and active recreation sector.
  • Victoria's Volunteering Portal - Department of Planning and Community DevelopmentDepartment of Human Services. The Department provides a number of resources for organisations that use, support, or manages volunteers. 
  • Volunteer Management Toolkit (template)Volunteering Victoria (2016). A vigorous volunteer workforce is critical to sustainability of Australian sport. Therefore, it is perhaps surprising that many sporting organisations do not have a dedicated focus on volunteer management. Volunteering Victoria has developed a sports specific Volunteer Management Toolkit to help clubs support their volunteers. 

Australian initiatives and examples

There are a variety of Australian national and state based organisations who have developed resources to support the development of volunteers and volunteer strategies relevant to sporting organisations. A number of National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) have also developed volunteer management strategies, plans and/or resources to provide policy and process around the attraction, retention, and management of volunteers in their respective sports. 

The Future of Sport in Australia (PDF  - 14.4 MB), Crawford M, Australian Government, Independent Sport Panel (2009). The report of the Independent Sport Panel, commonly known as the ‘Crawford Report’, noted the critical importance of volunteers to Australian sport.

The Australian Government should develop and fund a national volunteer program for sporting and physical activity organisations that aims to attract and retain volunteers to sport through education, accreditation and recognition, and in particular takes account of the potential offered by the growing number of older Australians to become volunteers. Independent Sport Panel

 

Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission)

Sport Australia provides guidance to National Sporting Organisations (NSOs), helping them develop strategies to recruit, retain and manage volunteers.  The primary areas of concern are coaching, officiating, and administration. The economic contribution of volunteers to the sport sector is captured in the Frontier Economics report for the ASC. In addition, the ASC has contributed to the sport sector's understanding of critical issues in volunteer recruitment and retention with its Market Segmentation research. 

  • The economic contribution of sport to Australia (PDF  - 717 KB), Frontier Economics report to the Australian Sports Commission (2010). There are three main ways in which sport delivers economic benefits to society: (1) promotion of physical activity for public health benefit delivers an estimated saving of $12 billion in health care costs, (2) labour input of volunteers is valued at around $4 billion, and (3) the international success of elite Australian sportspeople is one of the most significant measurable positive impacts on social well-being; with a value that is likely to exceed the current annual budget for elite sports.
  • Market Segmentation Study for Volunteers, Australian Sports Commission (2014). This research identified segments of the Australian community with the greatest potential for recruitment as sports volunteers, as well as assessing best practices and strategies for the recruitment and retention of current volunteers. Attitudinal segmentation is a useful means of grouping people within the broader population into groups or segments with similar dispositions towards volunteering. Segmentation across the Australian population, aged 14-75 years, resulted in 10 identified types of persons, based on characteristics related to their attitudes to volunteering and current volunteering behaviour. The study also provides key insights for the sport sector to better understand their volunteer workforce and how they might need to manage them into the future.

More information can be found in the Sport Market Insights' section of the Clearinghouse for Sport, Market Segmentation.


Volunteering Australia

Volunteering Australia is the national peak body working to advance volunteering in the Australian community. Its role is to represent the diverse views and needs of the volunteering sector while promoting the activity of volunteering as one of enduring social, cultural and economic value. Volunteering Australia fulfills its peak body role by providing: (1) public policy advice to Governments on matters relating to volunteering; (2) a national focus for the promotion of volunteering and its principles; (3) a forum for co-operative relationships with key national and international volunteering organisations; (4) encouragement to organisations to pursue excellence in volunteer management; (5) dialogue with stakeholders to ensure proper representation of the volunteering sector; and (6) support for volunteer programs, including assistance with the registration of spontaneous volunteers in national emergency response situations.

  • State of Volunteering in Australia report (PDF  - 3.7 MB), Volunteering Australia/PWC, (April 2016). The State of Volunteering in Australia report details the trends, demographics, challenges and successes in the volunteering sector in Australia. Volunteering Australia and PwC have conducted a survey to analyse the current state of volunteering in Australia, and to identify opportunities to maximise the potential of the volunteer workforce. The report investigates the following headline question: Are the current volunteer engagement and management practices appropriate for the future? Is there alignment between the types of roles volunteers want to undertake, the sectors they are interested in volunteering in, and the needs of volunteer involving organisations? What is the appropriate framework to support informal volunteering? What are the necessary steps that need to be taken to future proof volunteering? Sport is included as one of the industries/areas of volunteer participation investigated. 

Go Volunteer is an initiative of Volunteering Australia that aims to match people who are interested in volunteering with appropriate volunteering opportunities. The website uses a national database of volunteering opportunities. Volunteering Australia also provides volunteer resources and maintains State Volunteer Centres.

Although volunteers are engaged in a ‘non-paid’ capacity, there is a strong commitment within the sport sector to include volunteers as part of their workforce development strategy. More information about education, professional development, and recognition of skills within the sport sector can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic, Sport Workforce Development


National Sporting Organisation (NSO) policies and programs 

flying discAustralian Flying Disc Association (AFDA)

AFDA recognises the need for a volunteer management program to focus on creating a supportive environment to address the issue of recruiting and retaining volunteers. 

AFL iconAustralian Football

    • AFL Community website provides a variety of information for administrators to develop a Volunteer Management Program, to help engage and recognise volunteers for their efforts. 
      • AFL Club Management Program: Volunteer Management for Football Clubs (PDF  - 1.0 MB), 2004. Community club football is the heart of Australian Football. Quality volunteers are critical to the conduct and growth of the game because they determine the quality of the club environment and, hence, the experience for players and their families. Volunteers are the glue that holds together every football club in Australia. They dedicate hours of time and energy every year, working in a variety of ways and completing many necessary tasks. Without the dedication of these volunteers, football clubs as we know them would not exist. Community football continues to thrive through the efforts of volunteers. This education module will provide useful information so that a football club can (1) understand the rights and responsibilities of volunteers, (2) encourage clubs to appoint a volunteer coordinator, (3) outline the importance of job descriptions, (4) identify ways to recruit new volunteers, (5) outline the process of selecting and screening volunteers. (6) identify how to develop a volunteer management policy, (7) explain the importance of recognising and rewarding volunteers, and (8) identify the need for succession planning.

    BowlsBowls Australia

    motor sport Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS)

      • Club Management Handbook Chapter 9 – Volunteer Officials (2015). Discusses club membership and outlines recruitment, retention, mentoring and recognising members. This section of the Club Management Handbook is aimed specifically at volunteers who are needed to assist with the various social and competition activities (‘events’) that the Club may be involved in organising.  

cricketCricket Australia

golfGolf Australia

    • Workforce Management. The supporting resources will assist you and your club in managing volunteers and employees.

NetballNetball Australia

    • Volunteer Support. Provides links to resources including job descriptions and fact sheets to help clubs to attract and retain volunteers. 
    • Netball Australia Volunteer Policy (PDF  - 498 KB), Netball Australia (March 2010). Attracting and retaining dedicated volunteers is vital to the continued success of Netball Australia and our many programs and events. Volunteers are the lifeblood of local, state, national and international events staged in Australia and we are committed to providing volunteers with a challenging and rewarding experience in every instance.
    • Volunteer Management Plan (PDF  - 1.0 MB), Netball Australia (2009). Netball Australia recognises the critical role that volunteers play within the netball community. Attracting and retaining dedicated volunteers is vital to the continued success of Netball Australia, its programs and events. The Volunteer Management Plan has been developed to provide comprehensive and transparent policies and procedures in regard to the recruitment, retention, recognition, and resourcing of volunteers. The Plan will ensure that: (1) volunteers are managed within a defined system, by capable personnel with the authority and resources to achieve desired outcomes; (2) opportunities are identified to involve volunteers in all areas of the sport; (3) position descriptions will clearly articulate the responsibilities of a role and the range of skills, knowledge, personal qualities and time commitment required by a volunteer; (4) selection criteria are transparent; (5) potential volunteers are properly screened; (6) selected volunteers undergo an induction process; (7) volunteers are adequately trained; (8) volunteers are adequately supervised and evaluated; policies and procedures are in place to dismiss a volunteer if necessary, and a performance dispute procedures are in place to handle misconduct; (9) policies and procedures are in place to grant honorarium payments and reimbursement of expenses to volunteers; and (10) volunteer recognition programs are in place. 

softballSoftball Australia

 Australian Capital Territory map

Volunteering and Contact ACT. is the peak body for volunteering and community information services in the Canberra Region. Provides a variety of resources and services for both organisations managing volunteers and individual volunteers.

  • 100 Volunteer Stories (PDF  - 1.9 MB), Volunteering ACT, (December 2013). Volunteering ACT has compiled stories that are a testimony to the excellent work of Canberra’s community-based organ
 

 
 New South Wales map

The NSW Sports Federation is the industry body for sport in NSW. They function as an independent not-for-profit organisation, representing NSW sporting organisations on policy matters, providing education and training, and serve as the ‘Voice of Sport. The NSW Sports Federation provides a number of valuable resources for clubs and sporting organisations to assist them in recruiting, keeping, and recognising volunteers.

NSW Sport and Recreation volunteers, NSW Government, Office of Sport. Online resources for volunteers.

  • Volunteers in Sport: Issues and Innovations, Turner K, NSW Office of Sport (2008). This study documents innovative practices used by NSW sports clubs to address the challenges of attracting and retaining volunteers.

The Centre for Volunteering NSW. The Centre for Volunteering is the peak body in NSW promoting and supporting volunteering and community participation. The Centre also has a service-delivery arm, the School of Volunteer Management, which is a registered training organisation. The Centre connects people and organisations through referral, training, resource development, information and education services.

 Northern Territory map

The Northern Territory Government directly supports a number of organisations and activities, through the Department of the Chief Minister, that engages volunteers.

Volunteering SA&NT is a not for profit organisation and peak body for volunteering, leading the sector in South Australia and the Northern Territory. It produces a number of resources and services that sports organisations may fund useful. 

 Queensland map

Volunteering Queensland is a non-government organisation that actively advocate for a strong and sustainable volunteering sector in Queensland. It produces a number of resources that sports organisations may fund useful. 

Non profit organisations and volunteers, Queensland Government, Workplace Health and Safety (Work Cover Queensland). 

Supporting Volunteers, Queensland Government, Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. The department provides resources for clubs, linking services and stories from volunteers.

  • Valuing Volunteers: The Queensland Government Policy on Volunteering 2007–2010, Queensland Government (2007). Volunteers have always made a generous contribution to the wellbeing and prosperity of Queensland. Across society, volunteers connect people and provide critical services. Everyone benefits when people volunteer – those who are helped and the volunteers themselves who gain satisfaction, enjoyment and a sense of belonging. This policy positions the Queensland government to proactively respond to key demographic and social changes that will affect volunteering during the next three years. The policy is designed to support flexible approaches to volunteering in Queensland. This flexibility will allow the government to meet the challenges created by rapid change through processes that encourage better coordination, relationship development, and reporting and promoting innovative models for service delivery involving volunteers.
 

 South Australia map

V-Star, Government of South Australia, Office of Recreation and Sport. The V-Star program is a free volunteer management resource to help sport and recreation clubs better manage their volunteers and support the Star Club program (i.e. Club development) provided by the Office for Recreation and Sport. V-Star program registration and login required for South Australian sport and recreation organisations. 

Sport SA Sport Volunteer Support Program. Sport SA is a South Australian not-for-profit organisation that advocates on behalf of sporting organisations. Sport SA actively links volunteers with organisations, establishing a network of people.

Volunteering SA&NT is a not for profit organisation and peak body for volunteering, leading the sector in South Australia and the Northern Territory. It produces a number of resources and services that sports organisations may fund useful.  

Volunteering Strategy for South Australia 2014-2020Volunteering SA&NT, Government of South Australia, Local Government Association of South Australia, Business SA, (February 2014). South Australia was the first state in Australia to appoint a Minister for Volunteers in 2001. This was in recognition of the importance of volunteering to individuals, the community and a civil societyThis volunteering strategy is the result of a collaboration between the Government of South Australia, Business SA, the Local Government Association of South Australia and the peak body Volunteering SA&NT. It provides a practical blueprint for action over the next six years, which will result in real and lasting improvements to the volunteer experience for South Australians.

 

Tasmania map

Volunteering Tasmania is a not-for-profit organisation that creates an environment which promotes and sustains effective volunteering. It has produced the report:

The Government of Tasmania, Department of Sport and Recreation, provides information about the management of volunteers, organisational responsibilities, and how to recruit and retain volunteers.

  • Older Tasmanian Volunteers. Volunteering can provide people with strong social and community networks that build the capacity and resilience of communities to respond to issues and crises. Some of the benefits of volunteering are told in a series of mini-videos featuring older volunteers and their responses to what it means to be a volunteer.


 Victoria map
 

Volunteering Victoria is a non-government peak body for volunteering in Victoria that seeks to promote and build a vibrant, prosperous and strong volunteering community. Sport and recreation is the number one sector for volunteering in Victoria, with clubs and organisations in all codes and at all levels relying heavily on volunteers to function.

  • Volunteering is Catching: a study into young people's volunteering in Victoria, Wynne C, Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (2011). This study draws on a contemporary understanding of volunteering that captures both the informal and formal volunteering activities of young people and defines youth volunteering as an activity where young people (aged 12 to 25) freely give their time and energy to benefit another individual, group or community. This report aims to understand the contemporary experience of volunteering for Victoria’s young people.

Vicsport. Volunteers are sports’ greatest asset. Over 90% of all sporting activity takes place at the community level, and almost every community sport or active recreation organisation is fully or partly run by volunteers. As a collective, sport and active recreation uses more volunteers than any other community sector. With such heavy reliance on the volunteer pool, it is vital organisations look after their volunteers.

Victoria's Volunteering Portal - Department of Planning and Community DevelopmentDepartment of Human Services. The Department provides a number of resources for organisations that use, support, or manages volunteers.

 


 Western Australia map
 

The Government of Western Australia, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, provides online resources for the support of volunteers in Western Australia

  • Volunteering: Building Stronger Communities, Discussion Paper (PDF  - 1.78 MB), Government of Western Australia, Department for Communities (2010). Volunteers are an invaluable resource to the social, economic, environmental and cultural strength of Western Australia. Active volunteers and well-supported community groups build connected communities by strengthening the ties between people, encouraging participation, and responding to the changing needs of the community.

International practice

Sport in Canada relies upon a strong club system to support lifelong participation. Volunteers contribute to the effectiveness of grassroots sports organisations; therefore, strategies for developing, promoting and encouraging volunteers are embedded into the Canadian sport sector.

  • Canadian Sport for Life Leaders School. This is a project of the Canadian Sport for Life movement. The concept is simple, support the personal learning and development of community leaders. This includes community volunteers as a key driver to the success of community sport. 
  • Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement (PDF  - 828 KB), Volunteering Canada (2012). Skills-based volunteering approaches have been formalised and there has been greater emphasis on how to attract specific groups to volunteering, including youth, families, baby boomers, seniors, and employer-supported volunteers. Migrants are looking to volunteering as a way to contribute and integrate into their new communities, develop skills, and gain social experience. Corporate community investment strategies have gained momentum over the past decade, and companies are showing a greater interest in integrating volunteering, sponsorships, and corporate donations to have a stronger impact in the community.
  • Strengthening volunteerism for development in China through the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games - Programme Document (PDF  - 2.0 MB), Government of the People's Republic of China & United Nations Development Programme, (2007). The project aims to strengthen and promote national volunteerism and raise awareness of the contributions that volunteers can make towards a sustainable development agenda of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs_ and a Xiao-Kang (well-off) Society through the Beijing Summer Olympic Games. 
  • Volunteer High Performance Work Systems and Service Performance: An Empirical Study of Beijing Olympic Volunteers, Yujie Cai, Jian Han, Siqing Peng, Luping Sun, Fronteirs of Business Research in China, Volume 10(4), pp.605-635, (2016). This study examines the key human resources factors that affect volunteers’ service performance from the perspectives of volunteers and managers in the Beijing Summer Olympic Games of 2008. Survey data were collected from 1,727 volunteers and 243 managers at the Beijing Olympics test events held at 10 venues between November 2007 and April 2008. Regression analyses and a moderation test were combined to test the hypotheses. A set of high performance work systems (HPWS) for volunteers in the Beijing Summer Olympic Games were developed which include performance management, training, recognition, teamwork and volunteer participation. Volunteer HPWS were positively related to psychological empowerment, which was in turn positively related to service recovery performance. Moreover, transformational leadership moderates the relationship between volunteer HPWS and psychological empowerment in such a way that the relationship is stronger when transformational leadership is at a higher level than when it is at a lower level. Implications and limitations were also discussed.
  • How China trained 100,000 volunteers ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Isabelle Laporte, (15 January 2017). They know they will have to stand for hours and keep their cool amid the 33-degree heat waves of Beijing in August. All for free. But the 100,000 Olympic volunteers, most of whom have already been confirmed, are grateful for the chance they have to meet the world and play their part in helping China achieve its goal of putting on the best Games ever.
  • Beijing transfers the 2008 Beijing Olympics Volunteer Legacy to the 2011 Kazakhstan Asian Winter Games, UN Development Program press release, (November 2010). With the rich legacy of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Volunteer work, China has precious experiences to share on volunteer management and promotion of volunteerism through large-scale events. 

Sport New Zealand estimates that there are 41,000 people paid to work in sport in New Zealand, but 500,000 people working unpaid. Volunteers are incredibly important at every level of sport.

  • Finding and Keeping Volunteers: What the research tells us (PDF  - 306 KB), Sport and Recreation New Zealand (2006). SPARC research indicates that the number of adults who volunteer as coaches, referees, administrators, or assist with other organisational duties has remained constant. However, demand for volunteer services continues to grow. Without a significant increase in the supply of volunteers there is a real threat to the delivery of organised sport and recreation in New Zealand. The purpose of this document is to provide information from research that supports and encourages sport and recreation organisations to develop better volunteer management practices. Sporting organisations need to provide quality volunteering experiences and ultimately encourage more New Zealanders to step forward and volunteer.
  • The Heart of Sport: the Experiences and Motivations of Sports Volunteers, Sport and Recreation New Zealand (2007). Research suggests that people can demonstrate a range of motivations, attitudes and behaviours in their interactions with sports organisations. Understanding the motivation of those who volunteer and the impact of their experiences on their future involvement as a sports volunteer is important for those trying to encourage participation in volunteer roles.
  • Sport New Zealand Volunteering Insights Report, Gemba for Sport New Zealand (2015). This report was commissioned to better inform the New Zealand sport sector; having three objectives: (1) understanding the underlying drivers and the level of engagement; (2) viewing sport as seen by its consumers, and; (3) providing detailed analysis of key measures. Data was weighted by age, gender and location according to the latest New Zealand Census. Key insights provided in this report:
  1. The recruitment of volunteers at an early age is critical. Volunteers begin their service at an early age (16-24 years old) and are likely to serve for a significant period of time.
  2. Sport volunteers are also participants of their respective sports. On average, 54% of sports volunteers have participated in that sport in the last 12 months. Those participating in the sport will be most effective and will help to drive sustainable levels of volunteers.
  3. The motivations of volunteers are selfless. They serve for the enjoyment achieved from giving back to their community and/or sport, and care little about the rewards they receive in return. The majority of participants intend to continue volunteering, and could be incentivised by more training and development, and better support from clubs and parents.
  4. The intrinsic rewards (doing something worthwhile and contributing to their community) that motivate volunteers mean that their rationale for giving up volunteering are due to time restraints or other commitments, rather than a lack of appreciation.
  5. Older (45 to 64 year old) volunteer coaches are the most qualified and engaged coaches. When compared with younger coaches, older coaches are the most likely to have received coaching development or to have achieved a coaching qualification.
  6. Older coaches have more experience and are likely to be working at all levels of sport; 60% have coached for six years or more. Older coaches are also the most likely to coach at a diverse range of coaching locations. 

  • Rugby World Cup 2011 volunteering resources. Sport NZ. The 2011 Rugby World Cup was supported by New Zealand's biggest ever volunteer effort. Officially called the Rugby World Cup 2011 Volunteer Programme, it saw an unpaid workforce of more than 5000 play a crucial role in the delivery of a great sporting event. This resource covers planning, recruitment, training, volunteer compliance, uniform distribution, scheduling, reward and recognition, research and reporting.

  • University Network of Volunteer Training Centers as a Social Project of the Sochi-2014 Olympic Winter Games Heritage, Nina Pestereva, Procedia - Social & Behavioral Sciences, Volume 214, pp.279-284, (December 2015). One of the performance indices of Olympic Games (OG) holding according to the criteria of International Olympic Committee (IOC) is so-called Olympic Games Heritage (OGH). At the modern stage of social and economic development of the country the priceless international experience of training the Olympics Volunteers (OV) for Sochi-2014 is extremely important for the Russian society. This research gives the integrated analysis of governmental support measures, private and public partnership, contribution of non-profit, youth and student organizations into creation of the university volunteer training centers network. 

Volunteering in an Active Nation: Strategy 2017-2021. Sport England, (2017). By investing in volunteering, measuring the benefits (to volunteers as well as the community), and using the knowledge we gain to fulfil volunteers’ expectations, we’ll be able to tap even more of the country’s vast volunteering potential. From 2021 to 2025 our focus will expand to involving a larger proportion of the population in engaging and helping out in sport and physical activity.

  • In November 2017 Sport England announced £4.4 million of National Lottery money to help build a new, diverse generation of volunteers. The projects were chosen to target under-represented groups, including people with disability, women, older people, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. You can read up on the full list of 32 projects here.

Active Lives: Adult Survey, May 17/18 ReportSport England, (October 2018).  The third Active Lives Adult Report, released in October 2018, found that men are much more likely to volunteer in sport and activity (59% male; 41% female). This is in contrast to more general volunteering where men and women were equally represented.  Additionally, male volunteers in sport more often held positions of influence as coaches, officials, and committee members. The report also found that people from lower socio-economic groups were less likely to volunteer (making up only 12% of volunteers although they make up 31% of the population), and people with a disability, who make up 21% of the population, account for only 12% of volunteers. 

Join In. Join In matches people to volunteering opportunities at clubs in their area. 

The Youth Sport Trust (YST) is an independent charity, established in 1994, that aims to help all young people achieve their full potential in life by delivering high quality physical education and sport opportunities. Promoting ‘volunteering’ is an important part of YST leadership programs and workforce development. The Youth Sport Trust runs a variety of programs to encourage and promote volunteering in sport and physical education.

Many local governments in the UK have developed their own volunteer strategy, for example:

  • Draft Barnsley Volunteer Strategy 2010-2020 (PDF  - 237 KB), Voluntary Action (2010). In the United Kingdom, levels of informal volunteering have not changed since 2001. Since the designation of the Year of the Volunteer in 2005, the government has sought ways to promote volunteering and increase its take up; the creation of Volunteering England; the establishment of a volunteer database; and the beginning of a modernisation program for local volunteering development agencies have all been effective strategies to increase the number of volunteers.

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