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Volunteer Training and Professional Development

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: editor@volunteertoday.com.

~ May 2007 ~ Topics

Washington State University Volunteer Management Certificate Program
Stages of Training

During 2007 Volunteer Today is running an occasional series on certificate programs in the management of volunteer programs. Information is provided to help the manager of volunteers know what choices are available to enhance his/her education. If you know of a certificate program based in a college or university, please send that information to editor@volunteertoday.com.

Washington State University Volunteer Management Certificate Program

The Volunteer Management Certificate Program (VMCP) is a four-course online training program that focuses on practical real-life learning exercises and provides basic and advanced training for managers of volunteers in the following key areas:

    1. Recruiting
    2. Training
    3. Supervision
    4. Evaluation and recognition
    5. Episodic Volunteering
    6. Risk Management
    7. Volunteer Middle Managers
    8. Program Planning

The basic and advanced certificate programs are offered in an economical alternative to other learning formats such as conferences, workshops, and classroom instruction, through online instruction.  Detailed information is available at http://capps.wsu.edu/certificates/vmcp/

The basic and advanced certificate programs are also presented annually in a face-to-face format. For information on the face-to-face program visit http://www.emmps.wsu.edu/.

The courses are designed and taught by respected leaders in the field of volunteer management,. Students receive personalized feedback from instructors who have years of real-world experience.  Assignments are always related to the work the student is doing or hopes to do.

bullet Format:

  • Access courses when it’s most convenient for you, 24/7.
  • Begin courses at any time. (Not quarter or semester based.)
  • Interact with fellow students and faculty through online discussion groups (optional).

bullet Who Should Enroll:

  • The VMCP program is designed especially for members of the volunteer community looking to enhance their knowledge of the field and interested in learning about new trends.
  • Newcomers to the field and those who have had limited formal training in volunteer management also will find these courses invaluable and a great way to learn the basics.

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 electronically. Details for Handling Problem Volunteers Book

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Stages of Training

The "Show and Tell" Model of training can be used to help plan a training session for volunteers, or it can be used to help volunteers understand what they will be experiencing during training.

1. Trainer explains-
Trainee listens.
2. Trainer demonstrates-
Trainee watches.
3. Trainee explains-
Trainer listens.
4. Trainee performs-
Trainer watches.

If you are using this method to plan training you do the following:

  1. Organize your content into an effective "give information" format; handouts, diagrams, overheads, PowerPoint. Never just read notes when using PowerPoint.
  2. Plan activities that demonstrate the content prepared in #1. It might be something you do, but can also be a video, or something done by someone else, or observation.
  3. Organize interactive training activities to allow the trainees to use the content in a simulated fashion. For example, if you are teaching the importance of confidentiality, arrange learners in groups and give them mini-cases to decide if confidentiality was breached.
  4. Organize a "test" to determine if learners have absorbed the content. This can be group reports, team discussion (monitored by the trainer), or a short quiz.

If you are using the model to help volunteers understand what they are about to experience, you should have a copy of the grid for them. Explain it and then ask the following questions.

  1. Why do you think all four phases are necessary?
  2. What is the relationship between knowing and doing?
  3. Which phase might cause the most trouble for a learner?

This activity usually takes about 5 - 10 minutes.


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 this list.

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