An Assessment of Volunteer Recruitment, Management and Retention Practices of Sports Events in N Ireland

Elizabeth Martin, Brenda McCarron

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Traditionally public, private and voluntary organisations in the sports event sector have been dependant on the invaluable work of volunteers in order to be “economically and operationally viable” (Costa et al., 2006, p.166). In the current economic climate however, many organisations are discovering it is increasingly harder to find both time and resources to recruit and manage volunteers effectively, due to the redirection of continually diminishing budgets. It is therefore essential, now more than ever, to identify the key contributors and areas for consideration in order to successfully recruit, manage and retain volunteers.The overall aim of the study was to assess the recruitment, retention and management practices applied to volunteers at N. Ireland sporting events. The objectives of the study were to identify motives for volunteering and repeat volunteering at sports events in N. Ireland; to identify the level of training provided and effectiveness of volunteer management from a volunteer perspective; to investigate volunteer recruitment, management and retention methods used by sports event managers in N.Ireland; and to develop a model to assist sports event managers to recruit, manage and retain volunteers.This research conformed to the philosophy of postpositivism and adopted both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The mixed method approach was used to gain information, experiences and perspectives from both sports event volunteers and managers, in order to achieve a greater understanding of the practices which will contribute to a successful volunteer dependant sporting event.The survey found ‘love of sport’, ‘opportunity to socialise’ and ‘to enhance C.V.’ to be the top three motivators for volunteering at sports events. This concurs with Coyne and Coyne’s (2001) earlier investigation of volunteer motivations at a major golf tournament. Volunteers in the survey reported the main ways they found out about the opportunity to volunteer were through sports clubs, word of mouth and their educational institution. The rigor of selection and training processes reported by managers varied according to the risk posed and responsibility awarded to volunteers.Retention methods employed by managers included continuous communication, social events, and verbal and written methods of appreciation, volunteer promotion and careful selection of time and dates for events to be held. This reflects the findings of earlier research conducted by Hanlon and Jago (2004) and Hall (1995).Finally in consideration of leadership styles, managers indicated they used a range of methods with recurring themes of volunteer motivation and concerns for volunteers’ own personal development presenting as the key considerations in their approach to running a repeatedly successful event. On the basis of these findings a Sports Event Volunteer Management model was developed to achieve greater success in recruitment, management and retention of volunteers at sports events in N. Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherUlster University
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Jun 2012
EventTourism and Events:Opportunities, Impacts and Change - Belfast
Duration: 22 Jun 2012 → …


ConferenceTourism and Events:Opportunities, Impacts and Change
Period22/06/12 → …

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Costa, A.C., Chalip, L., Green, C.B., and Simes, C. (2006) Reconsidering the role of training in event volunteers’ satisfaction. Sport Management Review, 9 (2), 165-182.
Coyne, B.S. and Coyne E. (2001) Getting, keeping and caring for unpaid volunteers for professional golf tournament events. Human Resource Development International, 4 (2), 199-216.
Hall, C.M., (1995) Introduction to Tourism in Australia: Impacts, Planning and Development. 2nd ed. Sydney: Longman.
Hanlon, C. and Jago, L. (2004) The challenge of retaining personnel in major sport event organisations. Event Management, 9, 39-49.


  • volunteers
  • recruitment
  • retention
  • sports events.


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