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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: editor@volunteertoday.com.

~ June 2010 ~


Trainees retain information more effectively if there is a review before leaving the training site.  Debriefing activities are one way to do that.  This activity requires summary and reflection on learnings.  It is also light-hearted and likely to produce laughter.  All good!  That makes the learning experience more memorable.  It can be used at the end of a content area of training or at the end of a full training session.

Participants: Any number, but it works best for 8 to 30 participants.

Time: 20 to 30 minutes


  1. Large sheets of drawing paper
  2. Crayons of different colors
  3. Timer
  4. Whistle


  • Form teams. Divide participants into equal-sized teams of 4 to 6 members each. Seat team members around a table.
  • Summarize briefly the content of the training session you wish the person to reflect on. Ask trainees to silently think back on what happened during that part of the training. Invite them to close their eyes and visualize the highlights of learning for them. The trainee is to focus on one lesson he/she learned from the topic or the overall training session.
  • Distribute supplies. Place sheets of drawing paper and boxes of crayons in the middle of each table. Ask each participant to take a sheet of paper and to share the crayons.
  • Drawing. Invite participants to draw an abstract picture that captures the essence of major insights from the one thing. Discourage them from focusing on artistic quality and encourage them to flow with their thoughts and feelings. The drawing is to illustrate what they learned.  Announce a 10-minute time limit for drawing activity.
  • Time to stop. At the end of 10 minutes, blow the whistle and ask trainee-artists to stop their activity. Reassure them that it does not matter if their artwork is not yet complete.
  • Interpret other people's pictures. At each table, ask participants to take turns holding up the picture he/she drew. Invite other participants in the group to interpret the picture and report what they see in it. The person who drew the picture is not allowed to talk while his/her picture is being discussed.
  • Interpret your own picture. After all pictures have been interpreted, ask the table teams to repeat the process. This time, however, each person should hold up the picture and describe what insights he/she meant to convey.

Group Debriefing:

After the sharing of insights, encourage a discussion at each table or with the group as a whole. Use questions similar to these to structure this discussio

  • What insights were the most frequently mentioned?
    What insights were unexpected and unique?
    What was the most powerful insight that affected you?
    How do you expect this insight to change your future behavior?

Adapted from PLAY FOR PERFORMANCE. Copyright © 2002 by Workshops by Thiagi, Inc.



Honolulu, Hawaii

Sponsored by the Hawaii Association of Managers of Volunteers

September 17 and 18, 2010

Volunteer Management for a New Decade

For more information: Visit our Events page


Professional Development

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





Two Classes
Recruiting Volunteers
Evaluation and Recognition in Volunteer Programs
June 21 to August 13, 2010

  • Want to improve and organize your recruiting efforts?
  • Interested in evaluating the volunteers and the work they do?
  • Interested in novel methods of recognition?

Beginning in June the Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program offers two online course, Recruiting Volunteers and Evaluation and Recognition in Volunteer Programs, in conjunction with the School of Public Administration’s Institute for Nonprofit Studies and the Department of Extended Studies.  The classes are part of a series that leads to certification in Volunteer Administration and can be taken pass/fail or for college credit.

Recruitment of Volunteers engages students in a marketing approach to the recruitment of volunteers.  Interactive activities involve students in practical discussions of the different styles of volunteering—traditional and episodic; building a recruiting plan, advertising and promotion for volunteers, and the organization of a volunteer recruiting team.

Evaluation and Recognition of Volunteers addresses the elements of evaluation for programs and individuals. The connection between motivation and recognition is explored in ways to thank volunteers for their service.  Come away from this class with practical strategies to recognize and reward volunteers.

Assignments are interactive and designed to build skills directly applicable to a manager of volunteers program.  Some assignments can be used immediately in existing volunteer programs. 

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

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Honolulu, Hawaii

Sponsored by the Hawaii Association of Managers of Volunteers

September 17 and 18, 2010

Volunteer Management for a New Decade

For more information: Visit our Events page


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

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

x 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

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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.

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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.  http://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. 

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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 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.

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