VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

~ April 2001 ~
  • Simple Tips for Effective Training
  • Canadian Training in Nonprofit and Volunteer Management
  • Computer Training for Seniors

Simple Tips for Effective Training

Here are four simple steps to improve the effectiveness of training.

  1. Write a purpose statement. Ask yourself, "What is it I want volunteers or staff to be able to do when they have finished this training?" Write down the answer. Avoid such words as "understand," "appreciate," "value," or "recognize." Be sure the words used refer to a measurable behavior, write, state, sing, answer, or demonstrate.
  2. Use problem solving to impart information. Present a problem and let the trainees' figure out a solution. Imagine you are trying to impress on volunteers the importance of confidentiality for clients or members. Give then a scenario where a volunteer inadvertently reveals the identity of a client. Have them discuss it and why it is important to protect the client. Confidentiality agreements make more sense under those circumstances.
  3. Use variety in training techniques. Talking (lecture) is not teaching and listening is not learning. All group work makes for a boring training session. Mix and match techniques and try to use as many of the learners senses as possible; seeing, hearing, feeling, etc.
  4. Be sure learners' practice. The best training always includes the opportunity for learners to practice what they have learned. This can be in a small team of two or three where they can get some feedback or for the entire group. Practice is the way in which adults learn and good trainers make time for lots of practice in their sessions.

   Canadian Training in Nonprofit and Volunteer Management  


From Atlantic to Pacific, Canada has training program, credit and non-credit for those who work with volunteers.

Here is a current listing.

  • Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
    Faculty of Business
    University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • Community and Not-For-Profit Leadership Program
    The Banff Centre for Management
  • Interdisciplinary Studies in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Management
    The Centre for Voluntary Sector Studies
    Faculty of Business, Ryerson Polytechnic University
    Toronto, Ontario
  • Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program
    Simon Fraser University
    Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Nonprofit Sector Leadership Program
    Henson College, Dalhousie Univeristy
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Non-Profit Sector Management Certificate Program
    Vancouver Community College Continuing Education
  • Nonprofit and Management and Leadership Program
    Schulich School of Business
    York University
    Toronto, Ontario
  • The McGill-McConnell Program for National Voluntary Sector Leaders
    Faculty of Management, McGill University
    Montreal, Quebec

Computer Training for Seniors

According to the US Department of Commerce, seniors are the fastest growing market of computer buyers and the most rapidly expanding group of Web users. More than 5.5 million people over the age of 65 were online this year. That is expected to triple over the next five years.

While those numbers are encouraging the ownership of computers by seniors is still the lowest of any age group. Many seniors are intimidated by the technology and wonder why they need to use it at all. Most Web sites are not designed for older users. They rarely take into consideration age-related declines in cognition and in vision and perception.

If you want to attract seniors or design training on computers here are some ideas to help you succeed.

  • On a Web site use medium or boldface type against a light background.
  • Avoid putting shades of blue and green together.
  • Feature short page lengths and linear navigation
  • Keep what you are offering simple. Test it on seniors. If it is too difficult try something easier. Games are very popular with seniors
  • Give the senior a written copy of the procedure. Having something to follow that is familiar is a comfort and a way to double back and check for errors.
  • If you are training at the organization's office, insist on a large monitor with large tracking ball and mouse that is not overly sensitive.
  • Customize software to increase font and icon size.
  • Be patient. Everyone, even children, have trouble when they start. Be encouraging and kind to those learning seniors.


Microsoft has a Web site on customizing its software for those with special needs. http://www.microsoft.com/enable.



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.

Copyright 2001 by Nancy Macduff.

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