HCC Team
Apr 1, 2021

3 things to improve engagement in local sports

There's been a lot of focus on the individual factors that promote engagement in local sports clubs, but little on how the organisational itself contributes to volunteering. Here are 3 things to improve engagement (and 2 things that don't).

Often initiatives to increase sports club volunteering ends in disappointing results. 

A 2018 study of German grass-roots football clubs found that the club's actual characteristics impacted whether members volunteered and how long they did so, more than individual circumstances.  The authors found things that reduced engagement but also some tips on how to improve this. 

Here are the main two things the authors found reduced volunteering:

  • Members are 11.0% less likely to volunteer in clubs when they break-even or make a profit. 

  • Adults are less likely to volunteer multi-sports clubs, the effect vs single sport clubs was a whopping 8 hours less per month.

However, here are some things that improved volunteering rates in clubs:

  • Focusing on inclusive sports participation increased volunteering in adults, especially parents of underage members.

  • Clubs that focused on friendly and cooperative cultures attracted and retained more volunteers than those focused on growth.

  •  Implementing and communicating a strategic plan that includes recognition activities and professional volunteer development increases the number of volunteers and volunteer hours.

We sometimes see organisations that are losing members compensate by thinking that wins and aggressive growth strategies need to be upped. The evidence is showing that this is the wrong way to go about it. Be human, be friendly, and be open. 

These are just a handful of the many things that influence engagement. Please have a chat with our team to find out more.

1) Swierzy, P., Wicker, P. and Breuer, C., 2018. The impact of organisational capacity on voluntary engagement in sports clubs: A multi-level analysis. Sport Management Review, 21(3), pp.307-320.

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