Effective volunteer training
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Good volunteer management includes ensuring volunteers are trained to fulfill their roles effectively.
What is volunteer training?
Training means different things to different people and there are many ways that people learn. Volunteers may need less formal training than paid staff as they may be doing very specific roles for limited periods. However, it is important that they are given opportunities to get feedback on how they are doing in the role.
Without being too formal, supervision and support sessions can provide these opportunities. Volunteers can think about their work and how they contribute to the organisation's objectives. Volunteers like to know about any changes coming that are likely to impact on them!
The right types of volunteer training
If you are responsible for supporting volunteers you will need to think about the amount of time volunteers have available, their own preferred way of learning and what resources you have available: for example, capacity, time, location, materials, budget for external courses.
It is the responsibility of the organisation to ensure that volunteers are able to carry out the role they have been recruited to do, whatever that may be. The steps from recruitment to volunteers contributing effectively can be summarised as:
- assessing volunteer training and development needs
- meeting needs, filling gaps
- supervision and support.
Other questions you might have are around how much training should a volunteer have (what is too much/too little?) and should you give accreditation to volunteer's learning.
- The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the professional body for all those involved in Human Resources. Their website provides an overview of what training covers and links with learning and development. There are useful sections on volunteers.
- The National Policing Improvement Agency recommends supervision and support to ensure volunteers are effective and retained.
Have your say
Share your experience of good and bad examples of volunteer training and ask questions about it on the Volunteers forum.