Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers: The 55-Minute Training Series


The majority of literature in the field of volunteer leadership is written to educate the person designated as the organization’s manager/coordinator of volunteers. Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers: 55-Minute Training Series can be used to train both leaders of volunteers from different agencies and all staff who interface with volunteers within one agency.

What You’ll Find

The Series consists of 12 individual “modules” which single out a specific topic related to volunteer management such as interviewing, delegation, recognition, etc., and focuses the content around four key components:

  1. A Trainer’s Guide for Presenting the Topic
  2. A Microsoft® PowerPoint® Slide Presentation
  3. Participant Handouts
  4. Participant Evaluation Forms

The information in each module can be shared in one of three ways:

  1. By the trainer via a presentation.
  2. A combination of a presentation and the facilitation of group exercises and discussion.
  3. A facilitated discussion surrounding one or all of the key components in the topic.


In this module, you’ll learn how to conduct an accurate assessment of the existing volunteer program or the organizational climate to initiate one. The information in this section is specifically designed to assist your efforts to identify the staff needs which can be addressed through a training/education program. Learn how to:

The primary purposes of this module are to introduce volunteers and staff to the significance of volunteer position descriptions and provide tools and methods to design creative and effective volunteer positions.

Learning objectives:

  • Describe the significance of good volunteer position design.
  • Analyze the trends in volunteering and their impact on the design or redesign of volunteer positions.
  • Design new volunteer position opportunities within their organization.
  • Name the necessary components of written position descriptions.

Learn how to design a strategy and outreach technique to find the right volunteer(s) for your park/program.

Learning objectives:

  • Understand what recruitment is and the impact of doing it well.
  • List some objections and barriers that people might have to volunteering at their organization and some strategies to overcome them.
  • Design an effective recruitment message.
  • Describe the characteristics of effective recruiters.

Interviewing candidates for a volunteer position is imperative to ensure that the organization is selecting the most qualified person. In this module learn the basic process and skills necessary to interview effectively.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss the importance and purposes of having interviews with prospective volunteers.
  • Review or initiate the four key steps in the interview process.
  • Design relevant interview questions and review the essential role of listening during the interview process.
  • Propose options for handling challenging situations that occur during interviews.

“Leaders don’t create motivation, they unlock it.” – John Gardner

At the heart of successful volunteer motivation is taking the time to discover what needs a person wants to meet while volunteering within your organization. These needs vary from individual to individual and they may change over time. Therefore, successful recruitment and retention involves ongoing monitoring of what volunteers need to attract them to your organization and what they need to keep coming back. In this module you will learn how to respect and respond to differences in motivational needs.

Learning Objectives:

  • Underscore that success in volunteer programs involves matching an organization’s needs with a volunteer’s ability and motivation.
  • Explain the variety of reasons that people volunteer today.
  • Determine their own personal motivation style and its impact on volunteer placement, supervision, and recognition preferences.
  • Examine motivation theory in light of the organization’s ability to attract and retain volunteers.

The goal of supervising volunteers is to establish conditions that encourage and support others to get the work done. Formerly, in the traditional supervisor/worker model, the supervisor alone made decisions and directed the work of those reporting to him/her. Today’s effective supervisor encourages paid staff and volunteers to be increasingly involved in decisions that involve them and to take more responsibility for their actions.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand and describe the role of supervisor.
  • Discover the similarities and uniqueness of supervising salaried versus non-paid staff.
  • Assess their competence in supervision skills and qualities of effective supervisors.
  • Explore various methods of supervising volunteers.

The early relationship a volunteer has with an organization has a tremendous impact on the future success of the partnership between the organization and the volunteer. It is critical that organizations that engage volunteers think carefully about the general information a volunteer needs to establish a clear relationship with the organization (e.g., its history, goals, values, general operating procedures, etc.) and what specific training/support is needed to effectively carry out the work for the organization.

Learning Objectives:

  • Distinguish between volunteer orientation and volunteer training.
  • Know what should be included in orientation, how it can be delivered, and by whom.
  • Understand what is included in training, how to deliver it effectively to volunteers, and by whom.
  • Identify and respond to challenges in orientating and training today’s volunteers.
  • Evaluate and improve their orientation and training so as to continually keep it relevant and useful.

In this module you will explore the values of delegation and identify the procedures and techniques for doing it well.

Learning Objectives:

  • Acknowledge any personal resistance to delegation.
  • Identify the values of responsible delegation.
  • Explain the differences between doing, directing, dumping, and delegating.
  • Name the key procedures and technical skills involved in delegation.
  • Propose appropriate levels of authority when delegating.

Performance reviews are a mutual way to express appreciation, identify problems and needs, determine the volunteer’s future involvement in the organization, and hold the volunteer and the organization accountable for their commitment to one another. Learn how to introduce (or build upon) the concept of mutual reviews of volunteer performance in your organization.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define a mutual performance review process for volunteers that fits into the total supervision and support system of the organization.
  • Identify the purposes, benefits and barriers of instituting or enhancing a mutual performance review process.
  • Suggest procedures and tools for performing the reviews.
  • Target potential outcomes of mutual performance reviews of volunteers.

In this module you will learn how to identify some of the causes of volunteer performance problems and examine options for dealing with volunteer performance gaps and support for changed behavior.

Learning Objectives:

  • Appreciate why it is critical to deal with performance gaps in a timely and effective manner.
  • Describe the range and types of frequent volunteer performance problems.
  • Confront and explore appropriate solutions for volunteer performance problems.
  • Apply tips and techniques of dismissing a volunteer.

This module covers the key questions that you need to answer prior to designing a volunteer program evaluation; some of the most common methods of gathering information; and the significance of engaging the right stakeholders in the creation and dissemination stages of this activity.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss the purpose and values of carrying out a volunteer program evaluation.
  • Identify key steps and questions to be answered prior to designing a volunteer program evaluation.
  • Understand the difference in purpose and value of four types of volunteer program evaluation techniques.
  • Identify key stakeholders who must be engaged in the creation/approval of the evaluation process and given the results derived from it.

As with all good volunteer management principles, risk management policies, procedures, and practices should be integrated into every aspect of a community service organization. Although much of the analysis and policy development goes on at the board and administrator level of the organization, the overall effectiveness is only as good as the staff and volunteers who carry it out.

In this module you will understand the importance of adhering to policies and procedures for managing risk in a volunteer program and gain tips to help you control/alleviate/diminish risk through effective volunteer position design, screening, training, and supervision.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain risk management and appreciate its importance regarding volunteers.
  • Discuss the agency’s policies and procedures related to risk management.
  • Identify and evaluate potential risks in volunteer involvement.
  • Address and diminish risk with preventive strategies and techniques such as volunteer work design, screening, training, and supervision.
  • Explain how to handle a volunteer-related liability incident or emergency situation within the organization.

Powerful and meaningful recognition begins when you recognize the talents and desires of prospective volunteers and offer them the job which responds to the motivational needs they are looking to fulfill through volunteering. The remainder of meaningful recognition is the myriad ways we formally and informally say “I noticed” and “thank you.”

If your staff members have never examined their roles in creating and implementing ways to thank volunteers, this in-service topic will provide a stimulus for this important outreach.

Learning Objectives:

  • Get in touch with the power of recognition in your own life.
  • Surface any personal and organizational barriers to giving volunteer recognition and then problem-solve solutions to address them.
  • Clarify the broad spectrum of ways volunteers can be thanked both formally and informally within the organization.
  • Brainstorm creative, minimal cost recognition items and acknowledgements that are culturally appropriate for your organization to use when saying “I noticed you!”
  • Describe the essential guidelines of effective recognition.

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