Retaining Adult Volunteers
With all of the effort involved in recruiting new adults to Scouting Ireland, getting them started and providing them with training, you can sometimes lose sight of a very important factor. We need to ensure that they stay involved. A recent study carried out on behalf of Scouting Ireland shows steady growth in new adult members joining the Association with only 493 in 2004 and 3,883 in 2013. However, figures show that in 2013 1,868 adult members left us. The figures show steady growth over this period while at the same time we are losing approximately half of the members recruited each year since 2011.
According to the WOSM Adults in Scouting Policy adopted by Scouting Ireland in February 2013, there are four major elements that influence the likelihood of retaining adults in Scouting:
- They need to trust the National Scout Organisation and their group
- They need to feel that they are trusted
- They need to feel a sense of commitment to the association
- They need to receive a sense of achievement from their role in Scouting
You may be a Group Leader / Deputy Group Leader, County Commissioner / Deputy Group Leader, Programme Section Team Lead and so have a specific role in managing other adults. Or you may be a member of a team working with other adult volunteers. In either case, you will have a role in this regard.
By creating the right environment within the Scout Group and also being approachable you can easily facilitate these elements.
Conducting the business of Scout Group Council and the running of the Scout Group in an open and professional manner will give new members a sense of confidence locally and help to develop their trust of Scouting Ireland at other levels. We should ensure that they have all information relevant to their role and that they receive appropriate training and support.
The “managers” should check regularly that all is okay and that all are happy to continue in the role they have chosen, this will help them to find out if there are any issues, allow them to deal with the issues promptly and reduce the opportunity for issues to develop into bigger things that cannot be easily resolved.
We should create an ethos of support and team work within programme sections and throughout the Scout Group. Encourage Scouters to socialise and develop friendships, give them a sense of belonging to the team and make sure to provide opportunities for inclusion and involvement in all aspects of Group life.
An excellent tool that allows the Group Leader and Programme Section Team Leads to have regular open discussion with Scouters is the Mutual Agreement and Review. This provides a flexible approach which you can adapt to suit your specific local needs, remember to keep it relevant to the role and allow the Scouter to take ownership of their future. Don’t be afraid to challenge people and remember to keep things enjoyable and FUN.
You may find some useful ideas in this World Scouting publication: Volunteers in Scouting Toolkit 2.