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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.

~November 2008~


Jazz Up That Panel

         Do you use “guest speakers” to train new volunteers?  Is a panel of staff and/or volunteers part of the training done in your organization?  Here is a technique to jazz up the boring format of the panel.

         Invite a speaker (or speakers) who is an expert on the topic under discussion.  For example, in many programs confidentiality is a big issue.  Invite the person with most knowledge in the organization to talk on this topic. 
         Prepare the speaker by telling them the session will be like a press conference.  They should prepare SHORT remarks on the topic to open the panel and then open the floor to the “press.”  That is the people being trained.

         Prior to the arrival of the guest, distribute 3X5 cards to all the trainees.  Review how a press conference is conducted.  Then give them time to write 2 – 3 questions on their card.  The questions should be focused on the speaker’s expertise and not generic questions.

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“-----Every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act---is founded on compromise and barter.”  Edmund Burke

Readings for Volunteer Training

         Some volunteer programs are moving training to the Internet, through a Web site or via email. In some cases the handbook for volunteers is online and available to anyone with an interest.  How effective is “reading” as a training tool and are there ways to enhance learning, when reading is the most likely format for teaching? Here are some tips.

Things to consider when selecting reading as a training tool:

  • Readings are materials that provide information or instruction about a topic.
  • Reading assignments do not stimulate the senses; therefore,   there is poor retention of the material covered.
  • Reading assignments should always be accompanied by some type of feedback exercise.
  • Readings work best when the trainer builds in some form of accountability for the learner.
  • Readings should be related to real-world problems, projects or products.
  • Readings can be helped by providing the learner with a "structured notepad" that guides his reading and note-taking.
  • Readings that provide growth for the learner should be provided.

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Professional Development

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

Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers

November 6, 2008

Presented by Betty Stallings
Time: 8:30 a.m. to Noon
Location: Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW,

Olympia, WA
Cost: $100 for volunteer managers or $50 for AmeriCorp VISTA members.

Do you often wish that your salaried staff and leadership volunteers were truly committed to cutting edge engagement of volunteers, and had the skills to effectively and creatively partner with them? If so, don't miss this fast-paced interactive presentation by Betty Stallings and receive your own electronic version of her complete series: Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers.

Questions? Call Lisa at 360-741-2610. Deadline for registration is October 27th.

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Mapping My Professional History

         Some professions require practitioners in the field to maintain a steady diet of professional development activities, i.e., attorney, physician, and accountant.  There is no such blanket requirement for those who manage volunteers.  This leaves to the manager or coordinator of volunteers the personal responsibility to advocate for the money and time to enhance his/her skills.  One way to make a case for professional development is to know your professional history.  Here is a simple mapping tool that can be used for your own records, but also as a means to show administrators your efforts at self-improvement toward making the engagement of volunteers more efficient and effective.


Professional Development Activities


Within the Last Five Years

This Year


List formal schooling or certificate programs related directly to volunteer management.





List non-credit training or in-service activities in which you have participated that relate directly to volunteer management.





List membership in professional or academic associations related to volunteer management





List practitioner related books, magazines, newsletters related to volunteer management that you read.  Indicate how often you read them.





List the academic or research publications on volunteer management you read.  Indicate how often.





List here other professional development activities not mentioned previously.





See Events page for listing of several training opportunities -from Philadephia to Olympia, WA

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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