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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.

~September 2008~


Rules for Effective Discussion

         Some volunteer training is long and challenging, engaging volunteers in discussions about value and beliefs.  For those discussions to be productive it is important to have some guidelines or ground rules for what is appropriate and what is not.  The best way to determine those rules is to let the group establish its own norms.  Here is a technique to create “ground rules” for discussions.

Discussion Ground Rules Exercise

3X5 cards-one per person
easel paper and markers
Time Needed: 
30 minutes

  • Ask each person to remember the best discussion group in which he/she participated. 
    What happened that made the conversations satisfying? Write on 3X5 card.
  • Remember the worst discussion group you ever participated in.  What happened that made it so bad?  Write on the other side of card those things.
  • Form small group of 3-5 and take turns discussing the best and the worst.
    For each characteristic of best and worst discussion group, list those thing you can agree on.  Be specific and concrete.  (Example—no interruptions when someone is speaking)
    With bad characteristics list those thing you think can be done to avoid them.
  • Draft ground rules to present to the other groups that outlines the items you agree on.
    Each group presents their ground rules.
  • Trainer elicits common themes and develops a ground rules for group behavior during discussions to guide the entire training session(s).


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Professional Development

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

Training in Tacoma, WA in September

Recruiting, Recruiting, Recruiting

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
9:00 a.m. – 12:15 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.  Learn 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. 

Association of Volunteer Resource Managers in Binghamton, NY

Registration for the 2008 Association of Volunteer Resources Management (AVRM) conference is now open. The conference will be held in Binghamton, New York on October 1-3, 2008.

The AVRM conference program reflects the interests and professional development goals of volunteer resources managers. The theme of this year’s conference “Power in Partnerships”, features 30 presenters, reflects the broadest spectrum of practitioners and interests such as all volunteer organizations, corporate social responsibility, student volunteers, credentialing and disaster response, to name few.

Martin J Cowling, one of Australia’s leading consultants on not for profit and volunteer management, will deliver the keynote address. He has worked with commercial and not for profit organizations for over twenty years. Currently CEO of People First -Total Solutions, Martin works regularly with individuals and organizations in the US, UK and Australia on areas connected with not for profit management, organizational culture staff motivation, effective volunteer management, constructive personal development and financial disadvantage.

The conference will also feature special networking times and pre- and post conference trainings.

Visit www.avrm.org for more information. The Early Bird Discount deadline is September 17, 2008

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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