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A group of women take part in an exercise class

Enjoy your volunteer experience

Volunteers have always played a vital part in the sports and physical activity sector. Without them, most community sport and physical activity simply wouldn’t happen.

Our hints and tips are designed to help new volunteers get the best out of their volunteer experience.

Hints and tips

Don’t talk yourself out of giving it a go
Volunteering can seem like a big ask. Sometimes it feels easier to talk yourself out of doing something new. However, groups with positive volunteering cultures will be keen to ensure that your experience is enjoyable.

Don’t be afraid to take the first step. Every bit of help will be welcome and you’ll get a lot from it, so give it a go!
Understand why you want to get involved
Think about what’s motivating you, and what you would like to get out of the experience. There are many benefits to volunteering, from making friends to developing your CV. Keep your motivations in mind when you're choosing a group to join.
Work with your club or group to find your best fit
Be upfront about what motivates you, what kind of tasks or roles you’d be interested in, what your skills are, how much time you can commit and any concerns you have. If you'd prefer to do something ‘behind the scenes’ then tell them!

Don’t be afraid to say no if the volunteering opportunities on offer aren’t right for you. There’s likely to be a way forward for everyone if you work together.
Bring your enthusiasm!
Some tasks or roles might require specific technical skills, but most don’t. Many will want people with enthusiasm and passion, who are friendly and positive and have a desire to help. You can pick up new skills and knowledge ‘on the job’. Good luck and have fun!
Make sure you feel comfortable about getting started
Ideally, your club or group will touch base with you before you start and work with you to make sure you feel informed, ready and excited. This might be through an informal one-to-one or online meeting, a phone call, or a more comprehensive induction process.

However, if this hasn’t been arranged or you don’t feel informed enough, don’t worry, just ask for an induction and any extra information that you need to feel ready to get started.
Be a team player
Being proactive, patient, flexible and adaptable, having good timekeeping, following through when you agree to do something, being ready to lend a hand and willing to take responsibility will quickly help you become an essential part of your volunteering team.

In turn, you can expect to feel recognised and appreciated for your efforts, valued and motivated to continue.
Set goals for yourself
As you start volunteering, it can be really useful to set some goals to work towards.

These should be driven by what motivates you and what you want to get out of volunteering, such as gaining specific experience, and how you can best support your club or group.

Having some goals will help you make the most of your experience and take on opportunities to help you develop and improve your skills.
Work with your group to prioritise your experience
It’s in your club or group’s best interest to offer you a great experience, so make sure you ask for support as and when you need it. This might include training to help you progress.

Also, be prepared to give and receive constructive feedback, so you and they can work towards any improvements.

Two-way communication is important, so always be honest and encourage your club or group to be transparent in your interactions with them.

Also, don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t feel right for you.
Get involved with decision making
To really get the most out of your volunteering experience, you might want to get involved with your club or group’s decision making.

By doing this you can share your views and not only help to shape your club or group’s future, but have the opportunity to become part of that journey too.
Enjoy yourself!
The most important thing is that you enjoy your volunteering experience.

Take advantage of all the opportunities and benefits on offer and work with your club or group to find new ways they can help you and others to have fun and achieve your goals.

Volunteering should be rewarding and fulfilling, so just remember to stay open about what you need from your club or group in order to enjoy your experience.