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Recruit Club Members: Volunteers
GENERAL VOLUNTEERS play a key role in helping deliver Special Olympics opportunities, activities and experiences for athletes in local communities. Proper volunteer registration is important to ensure the safety and well-being of athletes and other volunteers. Check with your National/State Program to clarify background check/references requirements.

STEP 1: Volunteer Recruitment

  • People connected to people with ID (family members, friends) may be unaware of volunteer opportunities and club roles. Contact them first.
  • High schools, colleges students, community volunteer centers.
  • National/State Program or local volunteer agencies referrals

STEP 2: Volunteer Registration & Orientation Training

Check with National/ State office to:
  • Get guidance on volunteer registration requirements, and orientation process.
  • Learn how you should record and store volunteer information.
  • Get support with volunteer data protection requirements.

STEP 3: Volunteer Management

  • Develop volunteer schedules and communicate them well in advance of events.
  • Provide adequate supervision and support to volunteers based on their level of experience and confidence.
  • Rotate volunteers between roles to give variety of experiences.

Registration Submitted

Registration processed (including background checks, if required)

Volunteer receives a confirmation of registration

Orientation conducted


  • Comply with all registration and safeguarding requirements.
  • Fulfill assigned responsibilities.
  • Model good behavior.
  • Be vigilant and aware of the safety of athletes.
  • Be committed to volunteering for the club.
  • Bring new people and ideas to the movement.

Here are the top 3 things to help your club find and keep great volunteers.

Start with Why

Why would someone want to volunteer for your club? Great question! Being able to list all the benefits volunteering enables you to promote the opportunity and spark people’s interest. You need to grab people’s attention, get them excited about volunteering and then inspire them to make a commitment. Yes—it is a sales job—you need to sell your volunteer opportunity.

Make it easy!

People are busy! If you can sell them on the opportunity to volunteer – then you need to make it as easy as possible for them to be involved. This means being organized, having all the information for your volunteers, ensuring they understand their role and providing any support or training that they need to be successful. Volunteers want to make a difference - they don’t want to waste their time.

ACE the Volunteer Experience

Ensuring your volunteers have a positive & rewarding experience is critical. Key to this is ACE – Appreciated, Connected & Energized!

Think about how you can thank your volunteers in a meaningful way. Communicate and connect your volunteers to provide a sense of community. Inspire your volunteers and make the experience fun and something they look forward to.

It’s as simple as 1 – 2 – 3!

It’s not really. That’s why we’ve provided a more detailed walk through in the next pages…

Putting it into practice…

Start with Why


    • Why is volunteering at your club a great opportunity?
    • Why would someone commit their time to support your club?


    • It’s a fun, social & positive experience.
    • It is rewarding—you get to make a real difference.
    • It looks great on their resume / CV!
    • They get to use their skills and qualifications to make a difference


    • Write down the key benefits for volunteering at your club.
    • Use these to promote the opportunity.

Provide development opportunities


      • How does your club make volunteering as easy as possible?
      • What ways can you advertise volunteering opportunities?


      • Develop volunteer job descriptions including training requirements. Be clear that some volunteer roles do require experience and qualifications (e.g., first aiders, coaches)
      • Advertise volunteer needs (e.g., social media)
      • Hold informational meetings for potential volunteers to identify their interests and skills


    • Create a basic volunteer recruitment plan. Develop a list of roles, qualifications, volunteer time needed for activities.

    ACE the Volunteer Experience


      • How does your club appreciate your volunteers?
      • How does your club connect with your volunteers?
      • How does your club energize your volunteers?


      • Regularly express gratitude and thank volunteers for their engagement. Consider giving small tokens of appreciation.
      • Provide volunteers with regular updates and keep them informed on special opportunities
      • Ask volunteers for regular feedback about their experience


    • Make a simple plan on how you will provide an ACE experience This doesn’t need to be expensive – it’s the thought that counts!

    Where to Find More Help

    Check out the links below for further external and Special Olympics resources.

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    Special Olympics Safeguarding Training

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    Recruiting and Managing Volunteers (Sport New Zealand example)

    Consider community volunteer groups, businesses, law enforcement, educational institutions to partner with to access a larger pool of volunteers.

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    Talk to your current volunteers—find out why they volunteer & their thoughts on getting more volunteers & improving their experience.

    Contact other successful clubs in your community to grab a coffee and learn about volunteers.

    Research local businesses offering employee volunteer hours. Offer club sponsors’ staff volunteer roles.