Tournament Planning 101 ~ Motivate your volunteers!

Keeping Your Volunteers Motivated

Article #5 in a series on Golf Tournament Planning

By: Judy Knelly, Special Events Coordinator, Sugarloaf Golf Club Inc

Positive feedback Weekly emails are a great way to keep your volunteers informed. Let them know how many sponsorships have been secured and how many golfers have signed up. Recognize individual or group accomplishments. Stay positive and motivated yourself! Share your enthusiasm. Emails are so easy to send in bulk and only take a moment of your time. Set a specific day of the week and time to send your group email….your volunteers will look forward to your updates.

Rewards/Recognition A simple “thank you” note is a great way to let a volunteer know you recognize their efforts to make your event successful. Getting to know them personally is good on two levels….it keeps your communication open and, as you get to know your volunteers on a personal level, you can better determine if their talents are being used in the best possible manner. When you schedule press release photos, include several volunteers in the photo and accompanying news article.

Be available to your volunteers/Communicate If a volunteer calls or emails you with questions or concerns, respond quickly! Making your volunteer’s issues your priority is a great way to keep them motivated.

Food!?! I know, this sounds crazy, but have food at your meetings! Every major motivational speaker will tell you food is a huge motivator! It can be simple…chips & dip, a veggie tray or light snacks or a volunteer breakfast the morning of the event. A few years ago we had a very big fundraiser with about a dozen very active volunteers who all came from out of town. The entire tournament was put together long distance. The night before the tournament the volunteers filtered into the clubhouse to prepare for the big day. The tournament director had made arrangements for a light dinner for the volunteers and when we finished our work, we all took an hour or so to relax, talk out some last-minute details and take a deep breath. As I looked at the relaxed smiles and light conversation around that table, I remember thinking it was such a nice way to reward the people who collectively were responsible for a very successful event.

Post-Tournament Recognition Even though you are probably exhausted after pulling off an incredibly successful event, DON’T forget to give your volunteers the recognition they deserve! Why not send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and publicly thank your volunteers. Let your community know what the results of your efforts were. Were there direct benefits to your community? This is also a great way to get volunteers for next year! Do you have room in your budget for a post-tournament barbeque, picnic or banquet? If so, thank each volunteer personally and try to mention how important their individual contribution was. You don’t have to present a thank you gift to everyone, but sometimes something as simple as a certificate of appreciation for each volunteer means a lot.

What NOT to do….NEVER treat your volunteers in a condescending manner. Remember, they are volunteering their time and energy for a cause they feel good about. Keeping your volunteers happy is the key to keeping them motivated.

Ms. JoAnne Skelly of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension penned one of the best articles I’ve read regarding motivating volunteers. Below is a link to her article. It is worth your time to read it!

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