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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: mba@bmi.net

~ August 2011 ~


By Susan Cairy

You never know how valuable a Directors of Volunteers In Agencies (DOVIA) organization could be for you until you try!  This is a professional association of managers of volunteers.  Called by different names in different communities

As a member of Directors of Volunteers in Agencies (DOVIA) of the Inland Northwest, and a long-time volunteer manager, this group has enhanced both my professional and personal life in ways I might never have imagined.

I have been recruiting CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), Diversion/NAB (Neighborhood Accountability Board) and Detention volunteers at Spokane County Juvenile Court for 21 years. Our DOVIA was in its infancy at that time. We met in the basement of The American Red Cross building over sack lunches and numbered about 5-8 people at monthly meetings. We collected $5 dues to cover the cost of postage for meeting notices whenever we needed it. We’ve come a long way baby!

Today we have about 45 dues-paying members. An agency membership is $50 per year for up to three people in your agency, and $35 for a single representative. We meet monthly, have a guest speaker on a related topic each month, following a short business meeting, and NETWORKNETWORKNETWORK. That may be the best part for some members. We also present one or two workshops each year and utilize both local experts as well as some with national and international reputations in volunteer management. We now also have a partnership with a local university and have been able to share costs with them.

There is just no point in reinventing the wheel, whether you are new to the field or seasoned. (Notice I did NOT use the word ‘old’!) We are never too ‘seasoned’ to learn, technology keeps changing, insurance has become a greater issue for many of us, different generations are looking for different kinds of opportunities, and there is always a new generation of volunteers just around the corner.people

I have made life-long friends within DOVIA and the networking before and after meetings provides a kind of support group, if you will, especially these days. The stress of greater demands on our agencies and ourselves, the economy, the frustrations of renegade, unhappy, or mis-assigned volunteers…those burdens seem a little lighter when shared with others. The networking, too, inevitably results in one agency recruiting volunteers from another agency, especially for a one-time event, or the local universities who have all those students looking for service-learning opportunities.

In my experience every community should have such a group. I just do not know why you wouldn’t!

Susan Cairy has been with the Spokane Juvenile Court for 27 years, starting as a NAB (Neighborhood Accountability Board) volunteer. She worked with delinquent youth for several years, before becoming the Volunteer Programs Coordinator for in 1990. She have been active in DOVIA of the Inland Northwest since 1989, having served in every officer position, on workshop committees, and now in an advisory capacity. She is an active volunteer with The Salvation Army, Our Kids:  Our Business Campaign, and Free Rein Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program. Past affiliations include INSLP (Inland NW Service Learning Partnership), United Way Volunteer Center Advisory Board, Spokane Schools Volunteer Program Advisory Council, and the Domestic Violence Consortium.

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Professional Development

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

Online Training for Directors of Volunteer Programs

blue dot Recruiting Volunteers

Fall September 26, 2011

  • Want to improve and organize your recruiting efforts?
  • Plan a recruiting campaign with a volunteer recruiting team.

Beginning in September the Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP) offers the online course, Recruitment of Volunteers (8 weeks) ain conjunction with the School of Public Administration’s Institute for Nonprofit Studies and the Department of Extended Studies.  The class is 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. Assignments in all classes are interactive and designed to build skills directly applicable to a manager of volunteers program.  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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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 third and fourth classes in the series are Leadership and Communication in Volunteer Programs and Supervision and Management of Volunteers. These classes engage students in analysis of personal leadership styles, techniques to resolve conflicts, supervision types, and essential elements of managing a volunteer program. These classes begin in March 2011.

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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Interested in quick tips on recruiting, coaching, communication, record keeping for your volunteer program.  Follow Volunteer Today publisher and editor, Nancy Macduff on Twitter.  She is posting quick ideas each workday on Twitter about the administration of volunteers.  Check out this new quick resource on Twitter at NLMacduff.  It is the VERY abbreviated form of Volunteer Today.

Nancy is seeking tips, hints, ideas, comments on things related to the management and administration of volunteers.  You can leave a Tweet on the Twitter site or email Nancy at mba@bmi.net.  The tip cannot be longer than 140 spaces or characters. 

REMEMBER: Followers on Twitter can set their profile on privacy to avoid getting unwanted Tweets.  Also, you must pick up Tweets, they do not pop up like your email.  Make it a bookmark on your computer.  Yes, you can Twitter from your computer,  you do not need a smart phone!

If you have not used this social media form of communication and would like to learn how to use it for future communication with volunteers, this is a good way to practice.  Tell the people in your organization and your colleagues in the community about this new site, exclusively for those who coordinate the work of volunteers.

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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.

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/. Thanks to Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list

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Available through the Volunteer Today Bookstore

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