The Training page for Volunteer Today has historically
focused on tips for trainers. Occasionally there were articles about training
for the manager of volunteers. With this issue the focus is shifting.
Each issue will have information on some aspect of professional development
for managers of volunteers and some articles on how to be a better trainer
of volunteers. The author of this page, Nancy Macduff, is open to ideas
and suggestions from readers on what might be useful information in the
area of professional development. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers can write material for a newsletterelectronic
or print. The manager of volunteers needs to proofread the material. Spell
checking by computer does not pick up words incorrectly typed and even
some suggested grammar changes are inappropriate, if not wrong. Here are
some tips to be an effective proofreader.
Read the text out loud. It will slow you down and errors become obvious
Check spelling of proper nouns, names, web site addresses, phone numbers,
Be sure to check days, dates, times.
Make sure there is contact information readily available and repeated
in the document.
Read for comprehension. If it makes no sense to you it is time to do
some text editing.
Do not trust spell-check in a word processing program. Check for correct
grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. If those things
are not your strong suit, find a volunteer or staff member who is a
stickler for good grammar.
Check out transposed characters, words divided incorrectly or omitted
words or letters.
We now have downloadable books available in PDF
format. Check out our online
bookstore for Handling Problem Volunteers by Steve McCurley
and Sue Vineyard now available electonically.
Some new volunteers arrive at the appointed time and
are sent off to their assignment and are "trained on-the-job."
Theoretically this works. . .sometimes! If the person's supervisor is
available, or an experienced volunteer is available the person can get
all the information needed. The fact is that this method of training can
and does miss the mark. Who talks about safety? When is there training
on doing the job in the "safety" of a classroom before practicing
on a client, customer, or patron? Who reviews all those policies that
guide volunteer behavior? Was there a tour of the entire facility?
To successfully launch a volunteer training program
for your program use these guidelines.
1. Stress that training
is an investment. The reason training is often considered optional
at many organizations is because it is thought of as an expense rather
than an investment. While it's true that training can be costly up
front, it's a long-term investment in the growth and development of
the volunteer human resources.
2. Determine your needs.
As you probably don't have unlimited time or funds to execute a volunteer
training program, you should decide early on what the focus of the
training program should be. Determine what skills are most pertinent
to the volunteer and the organization. Ask yourself, "How will
this training eventually prove beneficial to the organization?"
Repeat this process as programs change.
3. Promote a culture of
learning. In today's fast-paced world, if an organization isn't learning,
it's going to fall behind. Communicate your expectations that all
volunteers should take the necessary steps to hone their skills and
stay on top of their assigned work. This is especially important for
the traditional long term volunteer.
4. Get management on board.
Once you have developed a prioritized list of training topics that
address key needs of volunteers and the organization. Your task is
to convince management to rally behind the initiative.
5. Start out small. Before
rolling out a training program to every volunteer, rehearse with a
small group and gather their feedback. This sort of informal benchmarking
exposes weaknesses in training plans and helps you fine-tune the training
6. Present quality activities
and materials. Learn about adult education and what works for adults,
and then design activities to make learning easy. Having the right
training materials is also important after the training is
over, these materials become valuable resources for volunteers.
7. Find the right space.
Select a training location that's conducive to learning. Choose an
environment that's quiet and roomy enough to spread out materials.
Make sure the space is equipped with a computer and projector, so
you can present a visually stimulating training session.
8. Clarify connections.
Some volunteers may feel that the training is not relevant to their
job. Make the connections early on. Award people with completion certificates
at the end of the program.
9. Make it ongoing. Do
not limit training solely to new volunteers. Organized, ongoing training
program can enhance skill levels for all volunteers, and continually
motivate them to grow and improve.
10. Measure results. Without
measurable results, it's almost impossible to view training as anything
but an expense. Decide how you're going to obtain a return on the
investment. It is easier budgeting funds for future training if you
can demonstrate concrete results.
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://tltc.shu.edu/npo/.
Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with
Interested in assessing Recruiting in your program?