In-person registration events are the ideal way to recruit volunteers, although you may be considering a move toward online registration to meet the demand of busy families in your Region. When face-to-face registration is not possible, here are four alternate ways to recruit volunteers when considering a move to online registration.
1) Create new volunteer recruiting opportunities
Many Regions have decided to make their registration 100% online, but they’ve created other events so they don’t lose the important face-to-face interaction with their Region’s families. Bob Orr of Region 54 in Cerritos, Calif. invites all parents to a weekend player and coaching clinic shortly after registration where he’s had great success recruiting parent volunteers. At these clinics, his Region demonstrates ideal practice sessions, talks about the National Coaching Program and uses the extended time with parents to talk about the benefits of volunteering. It’s best to do this before teams are formed so parents don’t feel forced in to a role and have time to consider their options.
Other Regions have turned uniform distribution and meeting the coach into big community events. This can be done by teaming up with a local sporting goods store to host your event, providing pizza and snacks, fun games for families and bringing in local college soccer players to teach some moves to the kids.
Creating events where you can talk to parents in a non-rushed environment has great potential to bring in more volunteers. In addition to a multi-purpose registration event, you can try clinics, first-time parent meetings or soccer 101 workshops that include talking about volunteering with AYSO. Meet up with your Region’s volunteers to brainstorm something that works best for you. And remember, the sooner you start hosting recruitment events, the more time you’ll have to get volunteers.
2) Create an effective pitch
An issue Regions sometimes face when recruiting parents is that they don’t think they have the sales know-how to pitch volunteering. If you don’t “make the ask” your Region could lose volunteers who would have otherwise considered becoming a coach, referee or part of the management team.
Research by Ohio State University shows that most people are motivated to volunteer by one of three things: achievement, affiliation or power. Those who look for achievement like being awarded for accomplishments. People seeking affiliation want to build lasting relationships and volunteers motivated by power want to feel like they are having an important effect in the community. Make sure to keep these things in mind when creating your Region’s volunteer pitch. This message can also be used to attract volunteers on websites like www.volunteermatch.com. And don’t forget the power of “the kids need you!”
3) Provide volunteer support
Parents hesitate to volunteer for a variety of reasons. They may just not have enough time. It could be that they don’t know anything about soccer, feel they don’t have anything to offer and most notably, think they don’t have the time. It’s important to communicate to potential volunteers that they don’t need to know soccer or have an MBA to change lives and help create a life-changing experience for kids. And consider emailing a list of volunteer jobs that are short or one-time. If a parent doesn’t have the time to coach or serve on the Board, they may be able to help with picture day, handing out uniforms or other chores that take a few hours but only happen once in the season.
Be sure to create a supportive and communicative environment so parents that are unsure about volunteering will know they have a support cast to help if they run in to trouble. Then, make sure to communicate that no matter what their experience level is, they have veterans in the Region to lend them a hand.
4) Manage your deadlines
RC Michael Karon of Region 76 in Beverly Hills, Calif., has had great success getting volunteers and players to register online and has seen his numbers increase. He attributes much of that success to an “open door policy” with online registration. He allows both volunteers and players to register year-round.
To change your deadlines, simply go to eAYSO and click on Region – Setup – General – Messages and change the “Accept Application Until” box. In the “message to parents” (after deadline) box, create a message telling parents and volunteers to contact you in case they missed the deadline so you don’t lose them.
Make sure to think from a customer’s perspective. What can I do to make it easy to volunteer with our Region? What would it take to convince me to volunteer? Whatever the answer to that is, be sure to enable it for your Region’s families!
If you have any questions or tips on great ways to recruit volunteers, email Roy Rosell.