By Peter Barraket

As I write this (December the 5th), it is International Volunteer Day and for the past two years I have been lucky enough to be a driving member of a long-standing and successful amateur sports club in Western Sydney. A not-for-profit club, our sports club was established first and foremost as a racing club and is operated by volunteers. Like many volunteer operations, the same small number of volunteers in this club (some for decades), have done the lions-share of work to provide opportunities for sporting participation in the local area. Their passion, determination and competitive spirit have been the heartbeat of the club. Sadly, with declining racing participation and membership numbers and an emerging need to offer more social engagement options, it was time for some new thinking.

In this context, I have been thinking about what makes for high engagement in the often thanklessworld of volunteer, member-based organisations. For our sports club, we recognised that the club Executive Committee had to engage with members more broadly and deeply. As a result, we commissioned an inaugural Member Feedback Survey to understand what was driving the decline in participation and to inform decision-making – rather than act on assumptions alone, as is so easy to do when bodies like this are time-poor and not being paid to delve any deeper into member behaviour. This was a critical turning point to help rebuild the member experience.

Tip: Encourage new thinking and challenge the status quo; engage with members directly and often.

What follows are some insights and lessons learned that came out of our Member Feedback Survey with the hope that other similar member-based organisations can benefit from how our club has begun to turn things around – please follow the link to keep reading: Case Study – Volunteer Sport Clubs – Insights for Building Member Engagement Final

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