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The Training Page of Volunteer Today has practical trainer techniques and activities to make orientation sessions more productive and valuable. There are also ideas to help enhance the professional volunteer manager's training level.


~ August 2005 ~ Topics

The Dividend of Training

When budgets are tight and lay-offs loom, it is easy to whack the training budget! Not a good idea. Here is a lesson from our colleagues in the for profit sector that dramatically underscores the importance of training. Something to share in your organization and to give support to the importance of a budget for training volunteers.

Employers who spend over $1500 per year on training per employee had a gross profit margin 24% high than those who spend $128 per employee. This is according to a survey by the American Society of Training and Development as reported in Crain's Chicago Business publication.

Want more ideas for training? Check out our online bookstore for Sharing Moments of Recognition Every Day by Linda L. Graff. Details for Slide Shows Book

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Top Ten Review

Research shows that a review at the end of training helps "cement" the information in long-term memory for the learner. The Top Ten Review can be short or long, depending on available time. This training review is a good way to summarize content and help learners reflect on how to apply the information.


Get teams of three to seven people. Give them 15 minutes to identify their top ten reasons to use the information provided in the workshop or class. You can start by asking people to write their top three reasons on colored 3 x 5 cards. Then group people by color of cards. The group makes a master list, eliminating duplicates, and then reduces it to a top ten list. The number ten is arbitrary, it could be five, twelve or any number you think appropriate. To debrief go from group to group, getting one item from the group. This way all ideas are identified, but without scads of duplication.


Give people 3 x 5 cards with lines. Ask them to write the top ten reasons to use the information provided in the workshop or class. Allow 5 minutes for this. Then ask each person to tell you one of the reasons they listed. This should take 10 - 15 minutes.

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Orientation and Training for Volunteers

An excellent resource on working with volunteers is absolutely free! The University of Kansas has a Community Tool Box with all the steps to build a successful volunteer program. The toolbox has two chapters on the educational components for volunteers; orientation (http://ctb.ku.edu/tools/en/chapter_1011.htm) and training (http://ctb.ku.edu/tools/en/section_1109.htm). Try this site for the best information on training and orientation.


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

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