VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


  • Simulations: A Training Technique
  • Characteristics of Successful Nonprofits
  • E-Volunteerism (http://evolunteerism.com)
  • Volunteer Today Presents New Resources for Working with Volunteers

Simulations: A Training Technique

Simulations are not often used in training volunteers. Simulations are similar to "flight simulators." A fledgling pilot is inside something that closely resembles the inside of the airplane. Computers allow the student pilot to fly, without being in the air. The experience of the learner is as close to reality as possible.

Training volunteers can be enhanced with simulations. The volunteer can experience thoughts and emotions as close to "real" as is possible in a classroom. For example, a Hospice Friendly Visitor in training, might visit with someone who is dying during a class.

This may sound hopelessly cruel, but ponder the benefits for the client and the new volunteer. The client is giving at the end of their days to train someone who will help them and others. Clearly, some Hospice patients are physically and mentally unable to do this, but sensitive conversations with Hospice patients might identify those willing to help incoming volunteers.

A Friendly Visitor who interviews another volunteer trainee, knows the person is not a "real" client. Having the volunteer interview a real patient gives them the opportunity to practice what they have learned in earlier training and apply it in reality.

Simulations require feedback to be effective. The interview described above might be done in private and video taped. Then the volunteer and the trainer can "debrief" what occurred and what might be done differently.

If volunteers are using computers, bathing dogs, ushering at a concert, teaching a child to read, or coaching a sports team, they need experiences in a "training" environment that are as close as possible to the work the work they will do. It is worth the extra effort to organize simulations to help volunteers be the best they can be.

Characteristics of Successful Nonprofits

Independent Sector released the results of a 20-year study by Joseph Galaskiewicz and Wolfgang Bielefeld of 229 nonprofit organizations. One result of the study is a list of factors, which seemed to increase commercial income and the number of staff or donated income and the number of volunteers. Here are those results.


Susan Ellis and Steve McCurley have launched an online journal on volunteerism. This ambitious project provides readings with cutting edge information and commentary on a variety of aspects of volunteerism. Some of the best minds are writing for this new journal, including an excellent sampling from outside the US. The October issue included articles on screening volunteers and staff by Linda Graff, using icebreakers in training by Betty Stallings, and research on volunteering in England by Steve Howlett. Jane Justis writes a thought provoking article on volunteerism and raising money. Most of the articles are interactive. Throughout the text there are places to register your comments and read those of other readers.

There is a $32 charge for the four times per year journal.

Volunteer Today Presents New Resources for Working with Volunteers

Volunteer Today welcomes Canadian author, trainer, and consultant Linda Graff to its list of authors selling resources materials through the Volunteer Bookstore. Linda has prepared two books and one audio workshop on working with volunteers. These materials are dying to grace the shelves in your office and fill your brain with new ideas!

In addition to these new books and tapes on volunteering, the Volunteer Bookstore carries Helping Adults Learn and Change, by Russell Robinson. If you are training, this book is a must! Check out the descriptions below for all the new books. If you want to order any of these materials, please go to the Volunteer Bookstore.

Yes You Can! Discipline and Dismissal of Volunteers Audioworkshop
Linda L. Graff


Experience the energy of a live presentation in Linda Graff's spirited and pragmatic treatment of one of our toughest management issues ­ discipline and dismissal of volunteers. This audio cassette workshop will help you to discover the elements of rightful dismissal, master the steps and principles of progressive discipline, and learn how to decrease both personal and organizational risks in all of your discipline and dismissal actions. Gain both the confidence and skills to do what needs to be done!

Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer & Employee Screening Guidebook
Linda L. Graff
This is a comprehensive "how-to" manual on volunteer employee screening. Loaded with practical tips, helpful cautions, and fully reproducible checklists and assessment tools, this comprehensive guidebook will lead you step-by-step to increased screening awareness and program safety. Don't wake up one morning to a tragedy and find yourself wishing you had paid more attention to the escalating liabilities and higher standards of employee and volunteer screening.
By Definition: Policies for Volunteer Programs
Linda L. Graff


Policies are critical in reducing risks and ensuring safe and satisfying volunteer involvement. This is a step-by-step manual on developing policies specifically for volunteer programs. The manual provides clear definitions of policies and procedures; outlines how managers of volunteers, boards of directors, and senior staff can work together on policy design; and includes working samples of policies in over 70 different topic areas. A key resource that will crucially inform the process of making policies for your program!

An Introduction to Helping Adults Learn and Change
Russell D. Robinson
 Robinson presents three elements that help organize adult learning. Chapters range from learning how to conduct learner needs assessment to arranging the room to more effectively deliver training. A nuts and bolts approach to the elements that make for effective training.


Close to 200 colleges and universities offer academic programs on nonprofit and volunteer sector management. They are usually master's degree programs, but not always. American Humanics sponsors undergraduate programs, as well. If you are looking to push out the professional development window, consider taking a course at one of these colleges. A full list resides at http://pirate.shu.edu/~mirabero. Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list.


Washington State University offers a Volunteer Management Certification Program through the Internet. Individuals around the world can earn a certificate in managing or coordinating volunteers, without leaving home.

For more information, visit Volunteer Today's Portal site, Internet Resources. Look for the Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web site.


The National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) is an association of administrators, coordinators and directors of volunteer programs in local government. Its purpose is to strengthen volunteer programs in local government through leadership, advocacy, networking and information exchange. NAAVPLG is an affiliate of the National Association of Counties and is seeking affiliate status with the National League of Cities.

Cost is $20 for individuals and $75 for group local government membership. An affiliate membership is $25 and is intended for those who are not local government members but may have an interest in the group. There is a quarterly newsletter, national network, and access to NACo's Volunteerism Project.

For more information contact Glenis Chapin, who is a member of the Executive Committee. She can be reached by phone at 503-588-7990. Be sure to mention you read about this in Volunteer Today.

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Copyright by Nancy Macduff.

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