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Volunteer Training and Professional Development

The Training page for Volunteer Today has historically focused on tips for trainers. Each issue will now 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.

~ August 2008 ~

Learning the Steps

Do you teach the volunteers the “steps” in a process, elements of confidentiality, mission of the organization, or other things that might be hard to memorize.  One way to help “cement” the learning is with a simple puzzle.  Get the steps on card stock.  Then cut the steps into jigsaw puzzle pieces, not too small.  You can give each person or a small group the puzzle parts and have them reassemble in the proper order.  It can help people solve problems together and it is also a reminder of the steps or process you are trying to teach.


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Teaching Delegation

Teaching someone to delegate responsibility is more than just telling them to do it.  It needs to be made as real as possible.  This exercise physically illustrates the concept that delegating real responsibility to someone can get the job done more efficiently.

Balloon Delegation

Supplies:  balloons (blown-up) with tags.  Each tag represents a job often carried out by a member of a committee or work group

Exercise:  Ask a volunteer to come forward to “manage” or “lead” all the tasks represented on the balloons.  Tell them that most people who lead tend to do the work themselves rather than delegate, so they should try to keep as many balloons in the air as possible.  Give them one balloon to keep in the air, then another, and another, until all are in the air.  The person may at any time call for assistance in keeping the balls in the air.


  1. What happened when there were only a few tasks? (balloons)
  2. Are leaders required to keep lots of balloons in the air?  Why?
  3. What happened when the person asked for help?
  4. How can we effectively delegate?  What would have helped in this situation with the balloons?

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Professional Development

Ideas, theories, information, and training for those who manage the work of volunteers


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Training in Olympia, WA

Revitalizing Your Volunteer Programs: New Models, New People, New Strategies

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Time: 9:30 AM - 4 PM
Location: Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave., Lacey, WA

Cost: $75

Registration information: http://www.volunteer.ws/


(360) 741-2607

Sponsor: Volunteer Center of Lewis, Mason, and Thurston Counties

Its is getting harder and harder to find volunteers. What's happening? Spend the day with nationally known author and trainer Nancy Macduff as she leads us in a lively exploration of the issues facing those who manage volunteers. Explore a new model of volunteering based on how people are asking to volunteer. Review the practical strategies for recruiting and managing traditional and non-traditional forms of volunteering. Go home with practical ideas to enhance your volunteer program.

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Training in Tacoma, WA in September

Recruiting, Recruiting, Recruiting

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

In today’s market different people want different things in their volunteering choices.  Are you aiming your recruiting efforts at bringing in the people you need?  What does your Web site say to different types of people and their volunteering choices for your organization?  Here is a workshop that focuses on streamlining an existing recruiting effort to attract people with different skills and interests.  Do some volunteer task analysis to expand the engagement of volunteers.  Get feedback on your current recruiting strategies.  Plan a campaign to recruit a specific type of volunteer.  All enrollees must bring print information used in the recruiting effort—brochure, flyer, or copy of Web page aimed at recruitment. 

Managing the Challenging Volunteer

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

            Most volunteers are amiable people ready and willing to do the tasks at hand.  Some volunteers, however,  present creative challenges, some are bossy, some do not follow the guidelines, and some are just plain cranky.  Managing volunteers who present difficulties is likely the most challenging part of the volunteer administrators task.  How to cope with the “difficult” volunteer.

This workshop distinguishes between those who are creative and how to effectively channel that creativity and those who are detrimental to the overall program.  Discuss with your colleagues strategies to handle your challenges in managing people.  Start with some background on what motivates people to volunteer and go away with new ideas or practical tips on how to cope with that challenging volunteer.

Sponsor:  The Nonprofit Center of Tacoma and South Puget Sound
For registration information contact: http://www.npcenter.org/ or 253-272-5844

Trainer:  Nancy Macduff

Nancy Macduff is an internationally recognized trainer and author on volunteer management and administration, with nine books on volunteerism to her credit.  She served 15 years as Executive Director of a nonprofit youth agency and six years as the coordinator of a government volunteer program.  Her client list for training and consulting includes such organizations at Red Cross, United Way, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington State University, Portland State University, Cooperative Extension Services, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire, Points of Light, and National Park Service. 


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Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA)

Volunteer Today encourages mangers of volunteers to enhance their skills and effectiveness on the job through a variety of educational opportunities. Experienced managers of volunteers can highlight that skill achievement by seeking the Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) endorsement. The Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) advances the profession and practice of volunteer resource management by certifying individuals who demonstrate knowledge and competence in the leadership of volunteers. Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) is an international credential awarded to practitioners with at least 3 years of experience who successfully complete an exam and written portfolio process. Originally developed by the Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) several decades ago, the credentialing program is now sponsored by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration. For detailed information visit their Web site at: http://www.cvacert.org.


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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