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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.

~April 2009~



  • Online Training

             Volunteers are pouring into some organizations.  The old face-to-face training is creaky and tired and newer volunteers seem to have little patience with it .  Now is the time to consider online training for volunteers.  Here is a simple way to educate people before they show up to volunteer.  Consider recruiting a “virtual” volunteer to tackle this.  Get one who is experienced with the online learning environment.  In many places teachers are facing lay-offs, could be a potential source of help.

      • Start simple.  You do not need some big fancy computer program to create online learning resources for volunteers.  Although there are free ones available. (More about that next month)
      • Decide what information (content) can be learned by students in the Internet format.  (history of the program or organization, what volunteers do in a general way, safety or confidentiality issues for working as a volunteer, policies that impact volunteer behavior, etc.)
      • Create a “workbook” with the content and questions or activities to help the prospective volunteer learn what is needed.  Be sure to include answers to the questions.  Programs can be locked in Word or put into PDF format.
      • Do not put the workbook on the “generic” Web site of the program.  That is a space for casual visitors.
      • Volunteers receive information on access to these “training pages” when he/she has agreed to volunteer.  The “workbooks” are accessible for volunteers, not “wanna-bes.”
      • Lock them.  In many computer applications text can be locked.  Information technology folks can help with this.  You need to lock so the information cannot be edited by Internet elves that engage in mischief.
      • When volunteers start working, ask them to bring their workbook “tests” or exercises and to share them with you.  This provides an opportunity to clarify mistakes or ask questions to determine if the person is ready to volunteer.
      • Get experienced volunteers to help in developing these as a series of workbooks for new volunteers.  Great job for a bored volunteer seeking new challenges.  Might be just the task for a new volunteer with lots of experience in building things on the Internet. 
      • Set up a system to evaluate the effectiveness of this method of training volunteers, especially with the short term volunteer.

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Professional Development

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

Volunteer Management Training in Eastern Washington

Recruiting and Managing Volunteers

Professional Development Certificate

            Walla Walla Community College, in Walla Walla, WA is offering a two-session professional development certificate in the management of volunteers.  It is designed for those who organize volunteers, paid and unpaid.  The course is April 15 and 16, 2009. Participation in all the sessions leads to a professional development certificate.  Classes can be taken separately.  For more information contact Nancy Kress at 509-527-4561 or nancy.kress@wwcc.edu at the college.

Course description: Engaging and managing volunteers in the 21st century is not quite as simple as it used to be. Effective volunteer programs must use a coordinated effort to identify volunteers interested in offering their time and talents to an organization or a program.  The Recruiting and Managing Volunteers class offers a two day examination of the elements of recruiting and managing volunteers:  Elements of effective recruiting, strategies to plan training for a diverse a audience, techniques to effectively manage short and long term volunteers, methods to evaluate volunteers, and tips on meaningful recognition.  In an interactive classroom setting students learn from an internationally recognized teacher with ample opportunity to interact with colleagues.

Class One- Recruitment and Training of Volunteers

Class Two- Management and Recognition of Volunteers

Instructor Information

Instructor: Nancy Macduff, M.A.C.E
Faculty, Institute for Nonprofit Management

Portland State University
Author and Lecturer-Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program


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Tri-Cities Volunteer Training

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

It is getting harder and harder to find volunteers.  What is happening? The Tri-Cities, WA DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) is sponsoring a day-long workshop on several aspects of engaging volunteers.  Participants learn about the Multi-Paradigm Model of Volunteering, the elements of effectively engaging and retaining volunteers, how to gain support for the volunteer program, and strategies to manage the diverse volunteer pool  Highly interactive exercise, opportunities to assess your program and methods to recruit and manage more effectively are the focus of the day. 

For detail information on registration and location contact: cathy@bfvc.org or call (509) 582-0631


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Portland State University Training for Managers of Volunteer Programs


Institute for Nonprofit Management Launches Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Courses

Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program

Courses offered in spring Quarter-late March to June

Portland State University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management and the Department of Extended Studies have partnered to offer an educational series designed to build your volunteer program to standards of excellence and provide professional development for you.

Volunteers are engaged in programs and projects around the world in new and exciting ways.  Recruiting and organizing them is art and science. This new program teaches you cutting edge strategies to engage volunteers.

The Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP) offers two formats to educate professionals and others on how to successfully engage and lead volunteers.  Formats provide hands-on practical exercises and experiences for learners at all levels to enhance their work with volunteers.

Learning Option 1- Online course in Volunteer Engagement and Leadership-Students from around the world engage in first class instructions from seasoned veterans in the organization of a volunteer program.  Topics include recruiting, screening, planning, marketing, supervision, evaluation, and recognition, to name a few.  This is an asynchronous class. For more information visit the PSU Web site.

Learning Option 2-Online learning is not for everyone, so the Institute for Nonprofit Management provides the same content as the online course, but in a face-to-face format.  Visit the INPM Web site for more detailed information on the open enrollment Institute or one tailored to a single group. http://www.extended.pdx.edu/degrcomp/programs/v_engagement_training.php

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.

Interested in assessing your volunteer recruiting strategies?

Use a self-directed evaluation tool

Get help with one of the Volunteer Program Evaluation Series.

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