An Investigation of the Socio-Demographic Characteristics and Factors Motivating the Decision to Volunteer, within Sports Organisations with a View to Better Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Policy Initiatives
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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In light of the well-reported decline in sports volunteers both in terms of uptake and of those existing volunteers ceasing their involvement. The study aimed to build on that of previous research in identifying a socio-demographic profile of the sports volunteer for cross-referencing for future study and ultimately to serve improved volunteer policies and initiatives. However, this study aimed to formulate a profile specific to the community rugby club volunteer based on the conclusion of previous research that current volunteer recruitment and retention policies and initiatives are trying to implement a "one size fits all" approach to solving this problem when in fact, research suggests that sports volunteers are "not a homogenous group". Questionnaires were distributed to a sample consisting of current volunteers operating within a case study example of an amateur community rugby union club, three of the questionnaire respondents were then selected to be subject to qualitative semi-structured interview. The quantitative questionnaire data provided the socio-demographic characteristics that were used to formulate a profile of the community rugby club volunteer; this profile was consistent with that of previous research. Related to the gender and age characteristics of this profile, and supported by the qualitative information obtained via the interviews, the results identified club membership, as an ex-player for example, and family club association through a participating child as key motivating factors for making the decision to volunteer within the club. The study then proposed therefore that the traditional functions within such volunteer sports clubs facilitate relatively healthy, natural volunteer recruitment and retention levels and that in addition to this, the rugby club in question had made a shift toward more contemporary operations, in terms of its recruitment and retention strategy. The investigation concluded by developing a conceptual model representing the repositioning to a more contemporary organisation, whilst retaining a appreciation of its original stance, that volunteer sports clubs and the relevant volunteer policy formers need to make, in terms of understanding the functions and wider objectives of the other in order to encourage the formulation of more appropriate volunteer recruitment and retention policies and initiatives.
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