Without event volunteers, fitness competitions would not be possible – no matter the size. Thus, getting the right team of volunteers is critical to your event’s success.
Here’s how to find the best volunteers for your competition and make sure that they’re having a good time while they do.
Table of Contents
Set defined roles
Before you start recruiting volunteers for your team, consider what their roles will be. Think about what problems they’ll solve and what tasks they’re responsible for. For example, the Scoring volunteer duties are much different than that of the Equipment Crew.
Think about details like:
- Job overview
- Key responsibilities
- Time commitment
RX Tip: To get you started, here’s an in-depth guide on the types of volunteers you need for your competition: Your Event Volunteers: Roles, Responsibilities, and What They Need to do Their Job Well.
Having a clear description of your volunteer roles:
- Helps volunteers determine which position is most suitable for them
- Helps you be clear about your event goals and how volunteers will contribute to achieving those goals
Let people know you need their help
If you want the right volunteers, it’s up to you as the competition organizer to find them. Because they’re not getting paid, people will only sign up to volunteer if they know you’re looking for help. Make sure you:
- Announce early on that you are looking for volunteers.
- Send an email to your past volunteers.
- Add a banner on your competition website to your Volunteer signup.
- Get in touch with other gyms and businesses.
- Ask your members to spread the word.
- Are clear about your expectations and what volunteers get in return.
- Define what roles require volunteers.
A great strategy to kickstart volunteer registration is to invite past participants first.
With a competition management system like Strongest, you can easily invite past participants to your upcoming event using Strongest’s built-in email invitation system. Your email will include your personalized message and a registration link so your volunteer can register.
The system will monitor who has opened your email and accepted your invite. Strongest Compete will even tell you if an email bounced back so you can be sure you have the correct email address for your invitees.
Be clear about what’s in it for them
Let’s be honest: anybody who volunteers to help you out has a reason for it. Some people come to see certain athletes live and in person, while some come for free swag. Others love meeting new people, while some want to give back to the CrossFit/fitness community.
Whatever their reason, they will always appreciate clear communication from you – especially regarding what they get in return. For example, common questions include:
- Will you provide food and beverages throughout the day?
- Will there be any special event for volunteers, like a welcome dinner or after-party?
- Do they get any discounts on merchandise, accommodation or equipment?
- Who will they be reporting to?
By answering common questions in your email and socials, your volunteers will be more informed and empowered to signup.
Have a volunteer policy
While we’re on the topic of clear communication, let’s not forget about what you expect in return from your volunteers. In addition to the job itself, be clear about your policies surrounding things like:
- Your competition code of conduct
- Athlete interaction policy
- Time commitments
- Media/publishing constraints
- Their volunteer rights
- What rewards they can expect
It might seem like some of these things go without saying, but giving your volunteers an added layer of clarity shows that you care and respect them.
Recruit more than you need
As the saying goes, “Be prepared,” – especially when it comes to your team of volunteers. We know firsthand that things don’t always go to plan, even after you’ve signed up your volunteers. That’s why it’s a good idea to get at least 10% more volunteers than you originally thought you needed. These extra volunteers can help in these instances:
- No-shows: Unfortunately, some people might not show up to your event, even after signing up and confirming.
- Friction: Sometimes, volunteers who signed up for one role might not be the right fit. We’ve seen volunteers in competitions, both big and small, be removed from judging duties simply because they were lacking the expertise or confidence to call out no-reps. Other times, teams might not gel, and someone might need to be moved to another team.
- Miscalculations: There might be times that you underestimate how many people you need to perform a particular task.
- Breaks: If you have a surplus of volunteers, you could have them switch off and take longer rest periods to prevent fatigue.
You’ll want to ensure your volunteers’ registration process is quick and easy. The fewer steps, the better so that your volunteers don’t feel too overwhelmed. By creating a seamless and hassle-free process, you leave a good first impression on your much-needed volunteers.
Make volunteer registration a part of your website and the usual registration process. Design a simple signup form that allows people to:
- Select the type of job they’d like to volunteer for
- Indicate their availability
- Select their t-shirt size
You can do this easily using Strongest Compete. Volunteer divisions do not create scoring tables or leaderboards, and they do not appear under Divisions on your competition landing page. They also are not affected by the advanced global registration cap, if set. Finally, you can easily set up custom fields like “Availability,” making it super easy to organize and schedule your volunteers.
To create a volunteer division in Strongest Compete:
- In a Dashboard, click Manage on the relevant competition.
- Select Programming > Divisions in the menu on the left.
- Click on the division you want to edit or add a new one.
- In the division editor, under Type of Division, select Volunteer.
- Click Save.
Stay in touch after the competition
Once your competition is complete, stay in touch with your volunteers.
Thank them for their time, give them constructive feedback – but more importantly, ask them to provide their feedback. Set up a post-event survey with a tool like Typeform, Survey Monkey or even Google Forms. Check out our free sample survey here, in our article [FREE TEMPLATE] The Power of Post-Competition Surveys.
Ask them what they liked best about the experience and how you can improve.
Volunteers are not interested in money as a reward. If you make an effort to understand their reasons for volunteering, respect their effort and make them feel appreciated, they’ll give you their best – and they might even want to volunteer again.