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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.

~ May 2009 ~

Random Ideas to Enhance Training

  • Be observant when you are attending training.  Watch the training and the activities for the tricks, hints, exercises that can be used in your own training. 
  • Issue people red dots with self–adhesive backing.  The participants can use the dots to highlight information on workbooks, handbooks, or handouts that he/she wishes to remember.
  • Post a sheet of easel paper on the wall.  Label it as the parking lot.  Put markers and medium size post-its nearby.  Participants in the session can put topics or concerns on the parking lot they wish to be discussed before the session is over.  The trainer needs to check it periodically and leave time at the end of the session to address as many items as possible.
  • Icebreaker.  Ask people to share their middle initial.  Participants need to guess the name.  Great way to learn names in a small training group.
  • If you have volunteers working with children here is a way to help them establish some rules of conduct when he/she is with the child.  During the training issue each person a teddy bear.  Provide a removable nametag on a string to go around the neck of the bear.  The trainee is to write the name of a child he/she cares about on the nametag.  The participants then make a list of “behaviors” or conduct that would be best for their bear.  This personalizes the establishment criteria for behavior and it engages the learners in setting those parameters. 
  • Review questions at the end of training help solidify learning.  Ask participants to tell one thing learned in the session.  To determine who talks, take a soft Nerf type ball and throw out to someone.  That person throws to someone else, until everyone has had a chance to answer the review question.
  • Long training sessions that last late into the afternoon need “pick-me-ups” that are not food.  Here is a good brainteaser that takes but a few minutes, people can work together, and it helps re-energize a group.  On easel paper or white board list numbers in this order in two rows.

8, 11, 15, 5, 14, 1, 7,

6, 10, 13, 3, 12, 2

Next tell the participants “You’re seeing all the numbers from one to 15 with the exception of four and nine.  Your task is to decide why the numbers are arranged in this sequence, then put the missing numbers in their proper places. 
Option 1  Have the entire group work on it individually.
Option 2  Ask people to try it individually and not give away the answer before the end of the time allotted for the exercise.
Option 3.  Have people work in teams or small groups, for prize to person who gets it first.

Answer:  The numbers are listed alphabetically.  Therefore, four goes after five and nine follows 14. 

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Professional Development

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

Tri-Cities Volunteer Training

Kennewick, WA

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

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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 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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