VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

~ June 2001 ~
  • Asking Questions and Listening in Training
  • Trends in Technology That Impact Volunteer Programs
  • Checking Your Motivation
  • Canadian Training in Nonprofit and Volunteer Management

Asking Questions and Listening in Training

Training is not about the leader talking (Talking is not training and listening is not learning!). It is about arranging activities so people can learn. Being able to ask questions and listen is essential to good teaching. Here are five tips.

Tip 1:
Use soliciting questions - Asking people their opinion about something is often referred to as the "good pupil" questions. Asking a specific person can be seen as a compliment. These are not "stumper" questions, but rather those where the person is sharing an opinion. 

Tip 2:
Use commitment questions - Try using a leading question, "If I can convince you that this is the best way to do this, by the end of the training session, will you agree to go along with me?" This allows you and the learner some "wiggle" room and it assumes that learners can grow and change during the session.

Tip 3:
Ask clarifying questions - Do not race to answer questions. Have the person asking the question confirm your understanding. Repeat the question and have the person elaborate or correct your perceptions. How many times have you seen a trainer answer a question, only to have the learner say, "Well, that is not what I was asking about."

Tip 4:
Ask questions to help you learn - This is really a listening tip. Open-ended questions, "Well, how should we be handling this situation?" requires that you pay attention and concentrate on what the volunteer or staff member is saying. When people feel they are being heard it raises their self-esteem and respect for the listener.

Tip 5:
Listen and then follow-up - As the person to elaborate on their idea. If someone expresses an opinion and stops you might say, "That's interesting." This is usually enough to encourage more communication.

Trends in Technology That Impact Volunteer Programs



IMPLICATION - So what do all these facts and projections mean for your program? You no doubt have some ideas. We would love to share them with our readers. Send your observations about the impact on your program of technology to our Web Master via email at lbunt@bmi.net. In your subject line type "tech observations" to help the Web Master filter the email. We'll collect the best ideas and publish them in a future issue of Volunteer Today.

Checking Your Motivation

Are there days when you think about changing jobs . . .all day? Does the grass look greener anywhere but where you are? Here is a simple test to assess your level of engagement and compare it to 50,000 people in 615 different types of organizations. Provant, Inc., a Boston-based provider of performance improvement products and services, created it.

Think about your job and in the columns below list your level of agreement with the 17 words. Put the appropriate number in the box provided.


 Strongly Disagree







Strongly Agree
 Being valued          


To score:

Total all the numbers _________________

Divide the number by 68 _________________

Multiply by 100 _________________

Final Score _________________

*Remember: Taking this test doesn't tell you if you should leave your job, but it is one indicator of your motivational level.*


100 or over - You are fulfilled on the job and in the top 25% of employees in this study on the basis of motivation

92-99 - Basically fulfilled and in the second quartile

83-91 - You are "hanging in there" and in the third quartile

82 or less - You have a "motivational deficit and are in the bottom quartile


~"Training" magazine, March 2001.~


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



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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