Archives Search
Ask Connie
Boards & Committees
Calendar of Events
Internet Resources
Reviews: Books and Resources
Tech Tips
Volunteer Program Evaluation Series
Who We Are
Email Us
Training Volunteers 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: mba@bm.net

~February 2010~


In recent months I have been teaching an online course, Volunteer Training, for Portland State University.  Some students have struggled with assignments designed to help them organize training workshop “content” for easy access by the learners.  Content is the listing of the information that is to be acquired during the training session by the learner.  In papers and discussion forms the students have outlined complaints about the lack of sequence and organization in training and how it can derail learning.  Comments from students described sessions as boring, pointless, or worse.  Many said they wondered why the training was held in the first place.  And some the comments related to volunteer trainings they had attended.

Bad workshops are not limited to the volunteer sector. . .they are rampant in government training rooms, and the corporate world.  Perhaps we can all use a refresher course on how to organize the content of our workshops so the volunteer in training is not confused or bored.

The foundation of any workshop. . .like the “footings” for a building, is in the content and how that is organized.  If you are teaching a volunteer how to safely propel a patient in a wheel chair, there should be an outline of the steps to do that effectively and efficiently, building and testing the volunteer’s skill during the training session.

Content starts with a behavior, skill, or ability a volunteer must acquire before being fully qualified to serve in the organization.  That content is followed by sub-content items that are major steps or elements to achieve the overall Content.

Here is an example:

Assume you are training tutors in an elementary school.  The tutors read with the children and do math exercises, sometimes one to one and other times in groups.  Tutors need to learn how to record student’s progress, social behavior, or physical activities of note.  The notes are used by the teacher in grading student progress and making reports to parents or other school staff.  Here is how a trainer would lay out the content and sub-content of this section of the training





Complete Student Records at each visit

1.  Obtain student files from secure location
2.  Complete “Tutor Notes” sheet at each visit
3.  Tutor Notes include comments on progress in reading or math, social behavior (if a group tutoring session), physical activity of note during the tutoring session.
4.  Secure the student files before leaving.


In this space you might include personal notes to remind you, the trainer, of the information that makes up the DETAILS of the sub-content.
You would note where the secure location of student files is and how to access it.

You would likely review the Tutor Notes form; including in your comments the tips, hints, suggestions that make for a good report. 

Content frequently appears in the form of handouts, listing the information in an abbreviated form.  My handout for the tutors would list items in the Content column.  The training steps are the sub-content column and could be included in the handout.  Another option would be to leave room on the handout for a volunteer to their own notes. The three sub-content steps could be on a PowerPoint slide, with photos.  

The example of tutors filling out a form is a simple task a volunteer needs to learn, but many volunteer jobs are complicated.  Volunteers who sell things need to know the process for a cash sale, check, credit, or debit card.  And then there are the gift certificates.  Each of those is an individual content area, with sub-content areas that outline a logical sequence of steps to achieve the sale.  Outlining content and sub-content comes before planning training, preparing handouts, or other training materials.

In the example of the tutors there is a need to complete a form that a teacher might share with parents or school counselor.  It must be accurate.  Having the volunteer trainees watch a session of tutoring on video provides the opportunity for them to observe tutoring and then practice completing the actual form based on a real session.  There are undoubtedly many tips, hints, suggestion a trainer would make to help the learner complete the form as effectively as possible.  Those tips are listed in the comments column.  They are not necessarily part of the sub content, or the handout.  Those tips are still essential to the training and go in the content column.

Inconsistency is the bane of all training workshops.  Volunteer A, who worked for the organization for the first time in 2007 needs to hear essentially the same information as someone who sat in a training session yesterday.  The only way to get that consistency is to write out the content and sub-content, so everyone is getting the same message. 

Professional Development

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

Portland State University
Department of Extended Studies

Two courses that lead to certification in volunteer administration are being offered online beginning March 29, 2010.  The Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program’s first course, Volunteer Recruitment, an eight week 2 credit course and Volunteer Supervision and Management, a four week, 1 credit course, will be offered through an online program held in conjunction with the School of Public Administration’s Institute for Nonprofit Studies and the Department of Extended Studies. 

The Recruitment class tackles such issues as the rise of short term volunteering, the impact of age cohorts on volunteering patterns, creating a recruitment plan, utilizing market research for effect recruiting strategies, and engaging a volunteer recruitment team.  The Supervision and Management course takes the learner through the essential elements of organizing, supervising, and delegating the work of volunteers.   Assignments are interactive and designed to build skills directly applicable to a manager of volunteers program.  Some assignments can be used immediately.

For more information on the program visit: http://distancedegree.pdx.edu//programs/v_engagement.php


Return to Top


Classes at Walla Walla Community College

Nonprofit Board Legal and Financial Issues

Friday, February 5, , 8:30 am - 12:30 pm


Board members and staff need to know the “ins and outs” of managing the financial and legal health of a nonprofit organization.  Learn how to conduct a legal and financial assessment of tasks for board and staff.  Ask questions of a local attorney on specific areas of interest.


Managing Change for the Nonprofit Board

Friday,  February 19, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm


The nonprofit board copes with change each year.  Learn how to manage change without losing members or funders.  Discuss how change impacts individuals in the organization.  Go away with a strategy to organize smooth transitions.

For information contact: Nancy Kress at nancy.kress@wwcc.edu or call 509.527.4561

To register online:


Return to Top
Portland State University Training for Managers of Volunteer Programs

Institute for Nonprofit Management

Department of Extended Studies

Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program


Portland State University’s Volunteer Engagement and Leadership certificate program offers classes all semesters throughout the year. Recruiting volunteers is the first class in a series of six courses and covers the organization of the recruitment effort. It includes the impact of societal changes on volunteering, practical strategies for organizing recruiting include conducting needs assessments, strategic planning, and position descriptions. There is also information on the basics of marketing in the volunteer arena, advertising and promotions, screening and the utilization of volunteer recruiting teams.

The second class in the series is training volunteers. It moves the student from understanding the concepts of how adults learn to organizing content, writing learning objectives, and writing a training plan. Both classes will be offered during winter semester, beginning in January 2010.

Class is fully online

For registration assistance phone (503)725-4822 or Toll Free: (800) 547-8887 ask for ext. 4822

Online contact: http://www.extended.pdx.edu/degrcomp/programs/v_engagement.php


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

Return to Top


The International Journal of Volunteer Administration is a practitioner journal grounded in solid scholarship in the field of volunteerism, but with practical advice for those who manage volunteers.

The Journal is a refereed publication of the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, USA. The IJOVA seeks to provide an exchange of ideas and a sharing of knowledge and insights about volunteerism and volunteer management and administration, both in North America and internationally.

Formerly published by the now-dissolved Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA), The Journal is a not-for-profit service of the Department and North Carolina State University that seeks to connect practitioners, academicians, and consultants in greater service to the global volunteer community and the professionals who lead it.

The IJOVA is governed by a six-member Editorial Board representing the three predominant genres of volunteer management professionals: (a) practicing managers of volunteers, (b) consultants, and (c) academicians focusing upon volunteer management and administration. Three Board members represent the United States while one member each represents Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

Subscriptions are a modest $40. for the electronic journal. For more information and to read six issues for free go to the IJOVA Web site.

Return to Top


The Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE) is a national organization that supports and advocates for professionals in the field of volunteer management.  Membership is diverse cross section of professionals who are managers, directors, trainers, and consultants committed to the engagement of volunteers.

You can learn more about AL!VE at their Web site.  www.volunteeralive.org There is information on the board of directors, resources, newsletter, and committees.  It is now possible to join the organization online as it moves forward in its development. 


Return to Top

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 300 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.

Return to Top

A Service of MBA Publishing-A subsidiary of Macduff/Bunt Associates All materials copyright protected ©2010
925 "E" Street Walla Walla, WA 99362 (509) 529-0244 FAX: (509) 526-5595 EMAIL: editor@volunteertoday.com
The content of all linked sites are beyond the control Volunteer Today and the newsletter assumes no responsibility for their content.