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~ July 2002 ~
  • A Question from Ask Connie
  • Keep Them Coming Back
  • Adults Hate Change: How to Help Them Cope
  • Trainers Checklist
  • The Training Follow-Up Newsletter

A Question from Ask Connie

Dear Readers:

The subject of volunteers and fundraising has many layers and variations. The one that many volunteer program managers struggle with is whether or not to solicit financial contributions from their direct-service volunteers (not volunteer board members or trustees). I'd like to hear from you!

Are the volunteers in your organization solicited for financial contributions? If so, how? If not, why? Please send your responses to me, and I'll share the results of this informal poll in my September column.

Thanks for your help and Happy Summer!


Keep Them Coming Back

Volunteers are usually good about attending initial training sessions. Once orientation is complete and the volunteer is placed, luring them back to training can be a challenge. Here are some tips for bringing volunteers back when it is follow-up training.

    1. Select some written material related to the topic of the training. Call different volunteers and ask them to read the material and be prepared to share what they learn during the course of the session. Be sure to offer copy services if they want copies for the other trainees.
    2. In the publicity for the training list one or two thought provoking questions and explain that everyone will be asked to share their responses to those questions during the training session. Then include activities where participants have the opportunity to talk about their responses to the questions. Example: From your perspective what is the greatest need of our clients/members and how do volunteers help meet those needs?
    3. Assignments in advance of the training can help people get engaged in the topic. One way to do this is to ask volunteers to interview other people on a prearranged topic. They might interview other volunteers, clients, staff, or people outside the organization. The results of those interviews then make up a part of a learning activity during the training.
    4. Volunteers can be asked to look into various aspects of an issue or problem. This is especially helpful when there is more than one way to address a specific issue.

Adults Hate Change: How to Help Them Cope

"When everything settles down, . . ." "When everything is on an even keel, . . ." How many ways are there to say that we want life to stop racing forward so fast? Adults seek stasis or and normality in life that is rarely there. And change, well, do not even bring it up.

The fact is that despite the loathing adults have for change it is a fact of life. Here are some tips to make the changes in your program more palatable.

  • Begin with the background. Make sure there is ample information about the reason for the change. You need facts, figures, history, and other changes that led up to this one. Help the volunteers or staff put the change in the perspective of the history of the organization; seeing it as a developmental step rather than "change."

  • Be clear about what people need to do. Volunteers and staff need to know specifically what is needed from them to implement the change. This is not the time to be vague and mysterious. Spell it out. If they have to alter behavior and do multiple things to accommodate the new change, present it in that manner. Make a list and number it so folks can see the change in the proper order.

  • Address the results of the change. Any change has consequences - positive and negative. Be clear about what is anticipated and how the organization plans to address those issues.

  • Get personal. It is essential to tell people how change will impact them on a personal level. A huge museum was altering the entry for staff and volunteers. The entrance was to be moved nearly two blocks from its previous location. The volunteer manager took volunteers in groups through an exercise where they left the building and mapped out how parking might change and what options were available. Volunteers scoped out places to get coffee or lunch that were new and closer to the new entrance. In this simple "field trip" away from the building the volunteers got a handle on how the change would impact their work and allowed time for them to plan to cope with it.

Trainers Checklist

Ever go to a training session and find that you are missing overhead marking pens, masking tape, or 3X5 cards? A training checklist is a permanent way to avoid such mishaps. The checklist should account for everything;

  • name plates
  • tents
  • evaluation forms
  • Include the names of different types of markers, rather than just saying "markers."
  • If you take books, handbooks, games or the like they should also be listed.

If someone helps prepare your workshop material, the checklist can be used by him or her to ensure that everything is in the box that you need to conduct the workshop. This is especially important if you train away from your office in remote locations.

The Training Follow-Up Newsletter

Studies show that learners can lose course content unless review mechanisms are used. Some review mechanisms are useful during the session, but you can also do things following training. One effective way to review learning is with a follow-up newsletter.

The newsletter contains articles, tests, games, puzzles, bright graphics, all of which are aimed at reminding the volunteer of the learning objectives and content of the training session. An orientation follow-up newsletter can be created once for use whenever training is held. It is only up-dated when training is up-dated or changed.


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 Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list.

Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.

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