Volunteering at AFC Wimbledon (from the Aldershot programme)

Your Club Needs You!

Without our volunteers, the Dons Trust and AFC Wimbledon would not be where we are today. Whatever the role, their time and skills have helped shape our Club and had a massive impact on its success both on and off the pitch. And our volunteers bring advantages other clubs must eye with envy – financially of course, but also the sense of community from working together towards a common goal.

Dons Trust Board member Zoe Linkson reports on the work being done to increase our volunteer numbers and ensure ‘giving back’ is as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

Where are we now?
Our current volunteer scheme works very well. We provide opportunities that are open to all and help AFC Wimbledon across a wide range of activities.  But the Board recognises that we can do better. The scheme has grown organically along with the Club, so we now need to review progress and be sure we can keep up the good work begun in 2002.

Where do we want to be?
Earlier this year, I wrote a discussion paper for the Dons Trust Board which looked at our volunteer structure and how we might build on it to support the Club’s continued growth. I proposed that we should have a vision for AFC Wimbledon to “to be seen universally as a good organisation for volunteers to work with. A place where giving your time is an enjoyable experience that benefits the volunteer as much as it benefits the club.”

Having agreed the general direction of the paper, the Board also endorsed the proposal that we should work to the “Investing In Volunteers” UK quality standard for volunteering organisations. By comparing our system with this standard, we would be able to build for the next 10 years.

So what happens next?

Our first step will be to look in detail at our volunteering structure, the services our volunteers provide and the benefits they bring. So we’ll be asking questions such as:

  • Who are our volunteers?
  • What do they do?
  • How much are they enjoying the experience?
  • How good are we at keeping them?
  • Do they get sufficient support?
  • Are there people who could volunteer but haven’t? If so, why?
  • If people have stopped volunteering, why is that?
  • Are there people for whom we haven’t been able to find a suitable volunteer role?

We plan to contact volunteers through our Volunteer Leaders. Possible ways of gathering this information include questionnaire, online survey, focus groups and individual interviews. We’ll make sure that our volunteers know why we’re collecting this information, how we intend to keep it safe, and the benefits of improving our volunteer system.

We hope the data we gather will give us a better understanding of our volunteer scheme, and help us build on what we’ve done so far. We also want to find better ways of recruiting new volunteers. And most importantly, we want to make sure that every volunteer is well looked after, and feels valued.

Finally, we need to remove barriers to fans wanting to volunteer in the first place. For example, could we offer opportunities that need varying levels of skill and commitment; should we target our recruitment at specific groups; could some roles be adapted to suit our volunteers; and could we offer more training and support?

Keep an eye on the Dons Trust website for more information. For more about “Investing In Volunteers”, visit their website.