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Young cyclists with coach

Once you've recruited your volunteers, it's important to consider training and development opportunities or needs. 

This will in part be determined by the motivations of the volunteer. Someone who volunteers because they want to give back to the club may be happy to carry out the same tasks regularly.  Others may have ambitions, perhaps to develop as an official or coach, and are looking for support to begin a pathway of development.  

The important thing is to maintain ongoing communication with your volunteers, to understand their aspirations, to be aware when volunteers need a fresh challenge or have new aims that could be achieved through volunteering.   

Developing your volunteers not only enables you to demonstrate how much you value and appreciate them, but it will help ensure their experience is positive, help keep them motivated and committed, and will also give them the skills they need to run your organisation effectively. 

How to develop your volunteers

Whilst it is important to be mindful of the fact that some volunteers will want, or need some form of training to help enable them to do their role more effectively, training is not always required, and often a simple induction will give them all the information they need to do their activities well.

It’s important though to make sure that the volunteer is not taking on more than they want, or can manage.

However, for those that require it or are interested, training can take many forms, and does not need to be costly or time consuming, as with the following ideas.

Online courses

There are a range of courses that volunteers may be interested in which they can complete in their own time, including the following coaching course and forums.

  • Duty to Care: a suite of learning resources developed by UK Coaching which are all free, covering mental health, wellbeing, diversity and equality, inclusion and safeguarding. 

  • Connected Coaches Community: an online channel for new coaches to talk and share ideas, challenges and experiences. 

  • Inclusive Activity Programme: a free programme to equip you with the skills to engage disabled people and people with long-term health conditions more effectively in physical activity.  

  • Mind eLearning course: a course that will give you the knowledge, skills and confidence to better understand and support people living with mental health problems, and create a positive environment that ensures they enjoy the benefits of being active and keep coming back for more. 

  • Safeguarding: there is a range of courses on the subject of Safeguarding, reflecting the various level of qualifications available.  

Shadowing and mentoring

Observing how someone undertakes a particular role over a period of time can be a great way of helping volunteers understand how to do it before they take it on, whilst helping the club develop a succession plan for when existing volunteers move on.  Similarly, it can be a really positive development opportunity for the person being shadowed, allowing them to improve their mentoring and leadership skills. 

New roles

Although much can often be done within an existing role to develop a volunteer, sometimes a change of role might be more appropriate.  Some volunteers might need fresh challenges, or the aims and motivations which initially attracted them to the role may have changed. Exploring with the volunteer other potential volunteering opportunities in the club could be a solution.   

More responsibility

Giving volunteers extra responsibility or encouraging creativity in their role can be a form of both development and recognition. A typical example might be asking a volunteer to buddy new volunteers.   

Recognised qualifications

There are some roles within an organisation which will require a minimum level of qualification, for example a coach or official. If you are an affiliated club you should check with your governing body what qualification is required at each level of participation.

Where possible, you should help the volunteer towards achieving the required level, perhaps through covering or contributing to any financial costs incurred, or freeing up some of their capacity at the club to help enable them to have the time to complete the course. Many sports are now looking at online qualifications to support this.