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.
Professionals are people who stay current in their field
and keep up with the latest trends. Would you see a doctor if you knew
he/she did not read the latest in medical research or trends? The management
of volunteers is a profession. There is a professional association for
managers of volunteers, the Association
for Volunteer Administration (AVA), there are international gatherings
of managers of volunteers, and even a set of ethics. There are also six
academic journals that provide information on the activity of researchers
in this field. Sound like a profession to you? Then what are you doing
for your own professional development?
There are a variety of options open to you: join AVA,
attend a local training session to enhance your skills, and read. Yup!
No doubt you have a staggering stack of paper, magazines,
journals, and other things that you keep piling in the corner of your
work area that you "intend" to read. But, the demands of the
day have a way of intruding on the plan for professional development.
Here are some tips to help make that reading easier.
Make an appointment with yourself. Write it on the calendar with a
bogus name. Then disappear for one hour with some of the material you
want to read. A nearby library, in a tucked away conference or interview
room at your work place, your car, or a place where you will not be
Get a colored file folder. Stash material from your "reading"
stack in the folder. Keep it handy to grab for snatches of time when
you are just sitting - like waiting for everyone to arrive at the beginning
of a meeting. Be sure to put sticky-notes into the folder, in case there
is something you wish to save or refer to another person.
Look for "quiet" times in your week. Sitting in the waiting
room at the dentist office, waiting for a child who is at a game or
piano lesson, commuting time if you are riding with others or on the
train. Haul the folder along and read.
Learn to scan. Teach yourself the skill of scanning. Run quickly over
summaries or bullet points in the material. Scan the conclusions. This
will tell you if the material is worthy of a deeper read.
Want more ideas for training?
Check out our online
bookstore for Training Techniques in Brief, by Stan Smith.
Some quick tips on using English effectively in your
Clarify your writing by avoiding noun strings.
Lining up nouns one after another in a sentence can be awkward.
Example: "This report explains our volunteer growth stimulation
activities." Much better to say, "This report explains
our project to stimulate growth in volunteer activities."
Write introductions last. Best to write the
body of an article or report. Then go back and write the introduction.
This insures the fit between the content and the lead it. It
can also break "writers block."
Invoke the 24-hour rule. Got a nasty email?
Avoid a knee jerk response. There are a couple of choices. (1)
Rip off an answer that you have no intention of sending. Then
carefully discard it. (2) Write a reasoned response, but do
not send it for a minimum for 24 hours. Then reread it and make
sure it says what you mean.
Prepositions. Prepositions. Prepositions. The
big mistake with prepositions is over use or under use.
Avoid overused prepositionsoff of,
in back of, inside of, at about. "Volunteers need to
arrive at about 4:00 p.m." Change to: "Volunteers
need to arrive at 4:00 p.m."
Do not leave out necessary prepositions.
"The woman was oblivious and not distracted by the
view from the bridge." Better change: "The woman
was oblivious to and not distracted by the view from the
Remember that rule about no prepositions
at the end of the sentence? The rule has changed. If the
preposition falls naturally at the end of a sentence leave
it there. "I do not remember what the fuss was about."
"Final exam" strikes fear and
dread in the hearts of everyone but the home schooled, and even they
have to face the SATs! Here is a way to review a training session that
can "bump" those early fears out of the room.
Here are the steps and a variation.
1. Distribute a blank sheet of lined
paper. Tell them it is time for the final exam.
2. Ask everyone to write down, in order, the many activities that have
happened during the training.
3. When they are done, create a list on easel paper of the major events
of the training. Adjust it with hints if they have forgotten one of
the training activities.
4. Then ask people to reminisce about each of the things on the list,
especially those that were funny or provided insight.
5. The session should end with a review of key points and things people
are taking away.
You can vary this activity by providing the list of training activities.
Then have people use the list to do steps 4 and 5. This shortens the
time needed for the review.
Interested in assessing volunteer and
staff relations in your program?
COLLEGE PROGRAMS ON NONPROFIT
AND VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT
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