It is a simple fact that we are living in a tough economic climate. All you have to do is listen to the news to know that times are hard – and getting harder. Everywhere you look you see industries and organizations laying off people due to budget constraints. As could be expected, the fewer paid employees an industry or organization has to work with, the more it comes to appreciate those generous individuals who give freely of their time; individuals that are known, collectively, as volunteers.
Volunteers in Sports Organizations
It is a well known (if rarely admitted) fact that large numbers of volunteers are necessary to a sport’s organization’s ability to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. The management of most sports organizations will admit that without the hard work and unfailing effort of volunteers their organization would not be a viable entity. There just isn’t enough money to pay for everything that needs to be done. However, for all the work that volunteers do, they hold an important position in most sports organizations.
Volunteers vs Professionals
While volunteers are loved for the community spirit they engender through their generosity and motivation. On the other hand there are quite some examples that volunteers are regarded as a nuisance by paid professionals who see them as a threat to their own jobs and who regard their lack of training as a weakness to getting the job done correctly. There are many sportmanagers who would have to agree that while the effort is appreciated, there are areas in which volunteers are actually an obstacle given their lack of skills.
On the other hand the volunteers also don’t really like the professionals, with their theories, frameworks and deadlines. The volunteers were initially responsible for the successes of the sportorganizations. And only then the professionals came on board, which in a lot of situations was perceived as “take overs”.
Is There a Solution?
It would seem that in order to bridge the gap between the necessary inclusion of volunteers in a sports organization and the way in which they are regarded by the paid professionals it is necessary to do two things: 1). Educate the paid employees as to the necessity of Volunteers in order to keep the organization on its feet and 2). Encourage would-be volunteers to improve their status within the organization by updating their practical skills so that they are a true benefit to the organization and do not act as dead wood.
While the education of the professionals is a fairly straightforward matter, the encouragement of the volunteers is not, for they are giving freely of their time and energy and it is on the verge of rudeness to ask them not to volunteer if they don’t have particular skills.
Perhaps, however, it would be in the best interest of organizations to think of re-structuring their volunteer positions so that in order to sign up for certain positions they would need to demonstrate the ability to do certain tasks. This would encourage those interested in volunteering for specific jobs to obtain the skills necessary for the position. If the individuals who volunteer do not have set skills, they could be assigned to a general category of work that would not require them needing more than basic or average skills.
How each sport organization goes about bridging the gap between its professionals and its volunteers, as well as how they approach the need for specific skills from their volunteers for certain jobs, the fact remains that the appreciation for volunteers should never be an issue, for it is truly their tremendous efforts that keep your organization alive.
Are you a volunteer or a professional? Let us now in the comments below.