The 2015 Unibet EuroHockey Championships took place over nine days during August 2015 and was the biggest event that England Hockey had ever run in terms of volunteers and spectators.
The event consisted of 16 international teams from 11 countries and was broadcast on BBC Television. As you can imagine organising a competition of this size involved a considerable amount of work, and England Hockey knew that having the correct volunteers and using them effectively would be critical to its success.
Setting Up The Volunteer Opportunities
All opportunities were setup on the Hockeymaker.co.uk as ‘Applying’ opportunities. This meant that all volunteers were automatically informed that they were applying for a volunteer role, as opposed to it being a ‘first come first serve’ basis.
By utilising the ‘Enter a brief description’ function, volunteers were asked to leave a brief description as to why they thought they were suited to the opportunity. This enabled England Hockey to capture and short list large numbers of volunteers with relative ease.
Sessions were split into morning and evening and volunteers had to attend a minimum of 7 sessions to be eligible. This ensured that the cost of kit and training per volunteer was kept to a minimum.
Preliminary calculations suggested they would need 300 volunteers to fill 40 different volunteer roles (opportunities) ranging from team liaison officers to spectator services.
The first wave of recruitment started in September 2014 as part of a three month application window. This was followed by a second wave of recruitment in April to cover roles which had a low uptake.
By the end of the second recruitment drive 881 new volunteers had registered and 268 volunteers were confirmed on the event, with only 5 no-shows during the event.
The majority of the volunteers were from the UK but they did have some from the Netherlands and Germany.
(1) Opportunity Not Required
The event went very smoothly with no major issues. There was one catering staff role which they had recruited for but it turned out they were not needed, but these volunteers were redistributed to other roles.
(2) Combining Good and Bad Opportunities
The one big lesson they did learn from the event was to combine the ‘Programme Sales’ volunteers based at the gates (which was a comfortable and enjoyable role) with the ‘Welcoming Staff’ based near the train station (which was a little isolated and had a high drop-out rate). By combining the roles they would be able to rotate the volunteers so everyone gets a chance to experience the arena.
(3) Dealing with Drop-outs
Organising the sessions when people dropped out, and moving people around from popular opportunities etc. This was the biggest task…making sure that they had enough numbers per session.
Although VolunteerKinetic allowed volunteers to mark themselves as ‘ Not Attending’ via the website, volunteers often contacted them by phone or email. This meant there was a manual process for the admin to complete in order to keep the system updated.
Covering the drop-outs was dealt with by sending SMS Texts via the VolunteerKinetic system, asking volunteers for urgent help filling the gaps. This proved to be a very succesful approach which allways more than covering the short falls.
Overall a very positive and successful event, volunteers were very happy with the system, a small number of the older volunteers were unsure of how to register but this was easily managed over the phone. They managed to recruit a large number of Hockey Makers who were experienced but new to hockey.
“The biggest advantage was allowing volunteers to register online, we couldn’t imagine having to do it via email or paper applications, it would definitely would have been a huge task without the VolunteerKinetic system.”
Natasha McMorrow (Officiating & Volunteer Administrator)