We know that the key challenge for running a club for months and years is ensuring volunteers keep coming back. Therefore to build a sustainable club long term it is essential to help onboard volunteers successfully and motivate these volunteers in a club. Learn about some of the key reasons volunteers get involved and keep coming back in this blog.
We asked long time champions how they keep their volunteers returning session-after-session. They told us that having regular check-ins before or after sessions as well as involving mentors in the planning their Dojo helped gain buy-in from volunteers. More informal get togethers or meet ups helped volunteers to develop friendships with people they wouldn’t meet otherwise. This gives them another reason to keep coming back.
Example formats of check-ins or meet ups:
- Planning session at the beginning of a term/year
- 10 minute check in before your Dojo session
- 10 minute debrief at the end of each Dojo with your mentors
- Mentor meet up or volunteer excursion during a break period
Developing good habits at the start of a Dojo term
If your Dojo is regrouping after a break, it can be helpful to arrange a planning and feedback session with your mentors to discuss what went well last term at your Dojo, programming languages or project ideas people would love to try during the next term, and if there are any aspects that could be improved on.
Note: Using post-its can be a great way to gather feedback and start topic discussions - especially with volunteers who might not be comfortable speaking out in a group.
Things you could discuss:
- Introduce and welcome any new mentors
- Point out what topics/projects were covered in the last session
- Highlight if there will be specific resources or hardware being used in this session
- Some Dojos email the mentors what project resources they will be using in advance so they can be more prepared when they arrive.
- Ask mentors if there is specific roles/areas they would like to be more involved in
- Assign people to specific tasks that they are interested in trying
Planning for success
Why not set the dates your Dojo sessions will happen on at the start of each term so volunteers can have advanced notice? You can set up the events on Zen, the CoderDojo platform, so volunteers can check in to future events further in advance, to avoid schedule conflicts.
To help you plan your Dojo year check out this blog post with more information on areas to think about.
Organising informal meet ups or attending an external event with volunteers from your Dojo can help develop camaraderie and friendships. You could even connect with other Dojos nearby to organise a joint event, where people share learnings and their interests. CoderDojo volunteers can apply for an event pack and use our Mentor meetup guide to help organise their event.