VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


  • Training Volunteer Supervisors
  • Online Training
  • Tips to Make the Best Presentation
  • Volunteer Today Presents New Resources for Working with Volunteers

Training Volunteer Supervisors

Long-term volunteers are being asked to take on supervisory roles. They are overseeing the work of episodic volunteers, or less experienced volunteers. In some cases this works well, if the person has a natural instinct for working effectively with others. In other cases, the poor volunteer feels like a fish out of water.

Here are some tips to test the waters to see who can handle supervisory responsibility and how they might be mentored into becoming an effective leader.

Online Training

Volunteers can be trained online. Not everything has to be in a classroom or office. E-learning is happening in government offices, corporate cubicles, and nonprofit organizations. Why not in your volunteer program?

What topics make for good online training? Things like organizational background or the history of the program, a policy review, service to clients, and so much more. Topics that take precious face-to-face training time and can be done in a different format.

E-learning should always include some method to assess that the learner has completed the course. It can be a quiz at the end of the learning module or it can be a workbook or notebook used in conjunction with your e-learning course.

Here are some tips to make your e-learning course work from the beginning.

  1. E-learning is not posting handouts from a workshop. Training is not reading on line. It is more and requires planning on your part to make it a substantive learning experience. This may require some reading and study on your part.
  2. The learning must be interactive. Volunteers need to be able to e-mail questions, observations, or assignments to a staff member who can respond in a timely fashion.
  3. Start the program with a tutorial. Lead the volunteer learners into the course. If they practice it will make completing the training session easier.
  4. Consider giving learners some of the material in a notebook or workbook. This combines the "familiar" form of learning to something so new it terrifies some people.
  5. Learners are much less computer literate than you think. Make absolutely no assumptions about what they know. Make sure instructions are clear and leave nothing to chance. For example, many workers have never "right-clicked" in their lives.
  6. Avoid download problems. Keep everything to less than five seconds for learners to access. Keep navigation very simple.
  7. Work with the information technology staff to connect students to each other. Share the e-mail of volunteers who are working on the course. They can learn from each other, and not just the instructor.
  8. Be aware that not all volunteers want this type of learning. For some it is a personal choice. For others it may be they have no access to the equipment necessary to do an online course.

Tips to Make the Best Presentation

Training, speeches, or staff presentations can make you and your topic standout or they can do you in. Here are the three V's of successful presentations.

"Clothes make the man or woman." This old adage is true when speaking in front of a group. Make sure your clothes are loose fitting enough to not be a distraction. Avoid things that jangle or make noise or can distract you. You need to be able to move comfortable. Try to move in a relaxed manner, as well. Smile, use natural gestures. Take that nervous energy and aim it right at your topic. If you look good, and know it, it gives a bit of confidence and that helps the presentation.

Avoid complicated language; use terms familiar to your audience; use short words that are descriptive, and keep the sentences short, too. Write down the key points you wish to make and stick to them. Do not wander around. Be sure you know the audience. Who is sitting in the seats? Ask someone who can tell you exactly and tailor your presentation to him or her.

Be concerned about your voice and tone. Stress tends to flatten out the voice and pitch can rise, making for a shrill presentation. Practice lowering your pitch. Say, "This is my normal pitch." Then lower your pitch and say it again. Speak clearly. State each word individually. Vary your speed and never go to fast. Hold your chin up. This helps voice projection. (Cheat and write your notes on the top 2/3 of the page so your chin never has to go down.)


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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