This past week, I polled fans of RI Baseball and challenged them with this question: “I know that every league makes a huge effort to recruit and keep volunteers for Little League, Cal Ripken, and other youth baseball leagues. What about incentives such as reduced or 100% free registration fees in exchange for 10-15 hours of volunteering? Field day cleanup, concession stand work, home run derby organization, sponsorship recruitment, coaches, and more are all responsibilities of much needed volunteers. Would your league be in favor of incentivizing volunteerism? Do you feel that volunteers should just do they civic duty and help out with no incentives? Have RI leagues tried this and to what success? Any thoughts?“
Speaking from experience, I have personally donated my time to North Kingstown Wickford Little League for 10 years and running. I have written countless blogs, social media posts, emails for marketing campaigns, sponsorship letters, and answered 1000s of emails on behalf of the league. I have coached, thrown batting practice for home run derby, served hot dogs in the concession stand, and helped roll out turf in our outdoor batting cages at Wilson Park. There is an awesome core of volunteers I have had the pleasure of working with over this time frame (Sarazen, Maybach, Coyne, Kaiser, Arnold, Porter, McGrath, McGee) who equalled or bettered my time volunteering with NK and Wickford Little League. And in travelling and meeting youth baseball leaders throughout Rhode Island, it seems that each league has its core volunteers who came back year after year to help out, even when their children no longer play in the leagues.
I got to thinking about how to encourage and potentially incentivize volunteers to help out. I thought about how many people would benefit from a legion of volunteers performing 10 to 15 hours of community service while helping their children have a better baseball experience. 10 hours could equal a 50% reduction on their registration fee or a gift card to a local restaurant. Maybe the volunteer would get involved because of the incentive and then decide to pay it forward without that incentive? I see the calls on social media for coaches and volunteers every day.
In the end, the voting was pretty much 50/50. 12 votes for Yes to Incentives and 11 votes for No Incentives. Of the 12 that voted Yes, if you end up trying out an incentive program with your league, I would be happy to promote it on my social media pages.
Thanks to everyone who participated.