Volunteer Training Best Practices

When a new volunteer joins your organization, you want to get them integrated into a productive flow as soon as possible, which means providing the right instruction for them to tackle projects and assist at events and in the office.

Smart nonprofits use proven approaches to getting this important task done. Learn how to train volunteers most efficiently by following these guidelines.

Gear Volunteers’ Jobs to Their Interests

You will engage your volunteers more from the beginning if you match them up with things they’re most interested in. For example, if you have a high schooler who wants to be a preschool teacher, and there’s an opportunity to work with young children at your nonprofit, train them for that job. The more engaged your volunteers feel, the longer they’ll stay with your organization.

Provide More Than Just an Overview

Your volunteers should gain an understanding of not only what you do but why you do it. This knowledge ensures greater buy-in to your concepts and ideas. If you explain why certain foods get thrown out while others can stay in your food pantry, you also give volunteers a glimpse into the mechanisms of your nonprofit, which can be fascinating. Offering them ownership and trusting their ability to dive deeper into a topic shows that you trust them, too, which will always earn their appreciation.

Teach Volunteers Using Different Learning Styles

Did you know that there are seven main learning styles? Different people respond to different approaches, so incorporating all seven into parts of your training will help your volunteers retain information better. The seven types of learning are:

  1. Visual
  2. Aural
  3. Verbal
  4. Physical
  5. Logical
  6. Social
  7. Solitary

For instance, social learning includes working as a group and sharing observations, while aural learning uses sound or music to relay information.

Reach out to All Demographics in Your Training

Your volunteers will encompass a large swath of demographics. They may be young or old, from high- or low-income backgrounds, have little education or hold doctorates. Provide training materials accessible to all parts of this spectrum.

Put Your Personality Into Your Training

Dry, dull lectures on your organization’s mission won’t inspire your volunteers. A group activity that relies on participants’ creativity will. Think outside the box to come up with fun ways to get your information across. Remember, this isn’t school. Volunteers come to you because they want to. Give them a reason to stay.

Re-Examine Your Ways to Train Volunteers Every Few Months

A smart organization adjusts all the time. Is there some topic that your volunteers seem to always come away from your training confused about? If so, change the way you handle it. Talk to volunteers after onboarding, and ask them what they liked and didn’t like about the process.

This self-reflection will make your process more effective. If you use these volunteer training tips, your recruits will feel prepared to tackle whatever you ask them to. To help yourself stay organized during the process, check out volunteer management software from Volgistics. Contact us today or schedule a demo to learn more.

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Add States (Or Provinces) to Dropdown

Tip of the Week July 15, 2019

When Volgistics accounts are created, the State/Province dropdown list is only populated with the organization’s home state or province. However, you can add other states or provinces to this list at any time via account setup. To do this,

  1. Select Setup from the menu.
  2. Expand the Field options link.
  3. Select Core tab.
  4. Select State (or Province).
  5. Enter each state or province you need to add to the Add a new item field.
  6. Click the Save button beside the field.
  7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 for each state or province you need to add.

There are also buttons to add all states or provinces at once. These can be clicked instead of completing steps 5, 6 & 7.

If most of your volunteers are from the same state or province, set the Default entry setting to that state or province. This will make is so most people do not need to change the field when entering information.

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How to Recruit and Engage Millennial Volunteers

Millennials are often portrayed as naive and spoiled, but those stereotypes are terribly unfair. These young people, ages 18-34, grew up during the Great Recession, and they have strong beliefs and ideals that make them an excellent group of volunteers.

Would you like to find ways to reach out to this generation? Use our tips on recruiting millennial volunteers to help you connect with this energetic group.

Reach Out Digitally to Potential Volunteers

Millennial spend more time on connected devices than the generations before them. Approaching them through email or on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms will be more effective than mailing a flyer to their homes. Make it easy for them to respond to your call to action by allowing volunteers to sign up online. You can use volunteer management software like Volgistics to make this process easier.

You’ll also want to do other things online once you’ve made an initial connection, such as:

  • Sending text message reminders about upcoming volunteer shifts
  • Offering digital surveys to get feedback on your training
  • With their permission, tagging volunteers in event photos on your social media feed and encouraging them to share

Stay in Touch After an Event

Millennials value personal relationships. They like to feel appreciated. In addition to thanking them for their time, you should check in with them with a friendly “hello” every couple of months. Don’t press them to volunteer. Just see how they’re doing and perhaps offer an update on something you discussed during their volunteer stint, like a new project. This communication gives your organization a human element that millennials tend to value.

Provide Chances to Gain Professional Experience

Many millennials are just entering the workforce or seeking their first chance for advancement. Anything you can do to assist them as they climb the ladder will be appreciated, from meet and greets for volunteers that give them a place to network to practical experience at your charity that they can list on their resume.

Discuss Their Views on Your Organization

Millennials have a fresh take on the world that can benefit any organization. Talk to them about their observations regarding your charity. Ask for suggestions on how to better connect with your target audience, or gain a fresh perspective on your social media best practices. Remember, when you recruit millennial volunteers, you get a chance to see your nonprofit from a different perspective, so take advantage of any insights they give you.

Be Authentic in All Your Communication

Millennials prefer assisting organizations that are straightforward and honest in how they portray themselves. They’re a savvy, sophisticated group when it comes to marketing, and they do not like being talked down to. Don’t use “tricks” to get their attention, such as intrusive advertisements. Rely on your message and its relationship to their lives to resonate with them and draw them in.

When you follow these guidelines, you’ll have an easier time recruiting and engaging with millennial volunteers. If you’d like to see how our software can help, contact Volgistics to see a demo today.

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Send Email to Listed Volunteers from the Volunteers Page

Tip of the Week July 08, 2019

When you’re sending an email message from the Out Box tab of the Volgistics Mailbox, you can choose to send it to a single volunteer, tagged volunteers, all the volunteers in your database, or just the volunteers who have a certain Status or who are in a certain Set. But you can also send email directly from the Volunteers page without first visiting the Mailbox.

You can use the Volunteers page to bring up a list of all of the volunteers you wish to contact, then click the ‘Messages’ shortcut to instantly begin a message to all listed volunteers. Please note that this will create a message to all volunteers that are currently displayed—whether or not those volunteers are selected/tagged. To do this,

  1. Select Volunteers from the Menu.
  2. Use the basic or advanced settings you need to search for all volunteers you want to contact
  3. Click the All link.
  4. When the records appear on the page, click the Messages link
  5. Setup and compose your message to these listed recipients

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Church Volunteer Management Tips

Effective volunteer management for churches is a bit different than for other organizations. Volunteer managers often worship alongside the people who volunteer, forming more personal relationships than those at other nonprofits.

Volunteers play a vital role in keeping the church running and supporting events. Here are a few ways to manage church volunteers to get the most out of your congregation.

Plan Well in Advance

Many church members lead busy lives. They work, care for a family and often volunteer in other places as well. If you have an upcoming event that will require a lot of volunteer power, plan as far ahead as possible to give your volunteers a chance to put the commitment on their calendars. Waiting until just a week or two beforehand will limit the number of volunteers available.

Make a Personal Appeal

While putting blurbs in the weekly bulletin may net a few volunteers, asking someone one-on-one is more likely to ensure a positive reaction. This strategy tells the person you sought them out and want them, in particular, to assist you — a type of personal appeal that’s hard to turn down.

Connect With Your Volunteers

At a church, people want to form connections. They’re driven by a desire to relate and share their interpretations of different teachings. When you’re managing church volunteers, forge a personal relationship with them to make the volunteer experience more meaningful. You might share a short prayer before beginning your task or incorporate a recent sermon into the job at hand. Use whatever means you feel most comfortable with to forge bonds.

Offer Food During the Event

Food provides a fantastic way for you to say “thank you” to your volunteers. You might bring snacks or a full meal for a volunteer activity after a Sunday morning service, when people will be ready for lunch. Make sure to have water bottles on hand as well. Your volunteers will have more focus when their stomachs aren’t rumbling.

Celebrate Volunteer Achievements

So much that happens in the church community comes from volunteers. Whether it’s making a Christmas nativity scene, creating an intricately painted new stained glass window, or putting on a successful vacation Bible school, volunteers participate in countless things that the church gets excited about. Give credit to the people behind these amazing accomplishments — both in the bulletin and through announcements during your service.

Communicate Frequently About Dates and Times

Volunteers require reminders about when they should be somewhere and what they need to bring. Finding the right method to send these reminders to big groups — such as by using a volunteer management software like Volgistics — will free up your time for other tasks. Volunteers appreciate an extra nudge, especially if they tend to commit to things but forget to follow up.

When you learn how to manage church volunteers, you’ll have a more successful experience with the ones at your church. To see how Volgistics can make that job even easier you can schedule a demo or get in touch with us today.

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Use Schedule Icons to Determine How a Volunteer Is Scheduled

Tip of the Week July 01, 2019

In Volgistics, volunteers can be scheduled in two different ways: without openings and within openings. Some volunteers may be added directly to the schedule, while others may be assigned to fill specific openings that have been setup within Assignments. The “Two Ways to Schedule” section of help topic 1180 explains more.

The icons that appear on the daily and/or monthly schedules allow you to quickly identify unfilled openings, individual or group volunteer records, whether a volunteer is scheduled to fill an opening or is placed on the schedule without filling an opening. You can find out more about the icons that appear on the schedule in help topic 1205.

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How to Make a Volunteer Application Form

Your nonprofit undoubtedly needs volunteers, but you can’t accept just anyone who says they want to help out. Asking your applicants to fill out a volunteer form can help you determine if they make a good fit for your organization. You can also see what their skills are and how they line up with the tasks you have available.

We put together this guide on how to create a volunteer application form to help you figure out the elements to include.

Describe Your Organization

At the top of the form, post a paragraph or two about your organization and what you do. This section serves as a friendly welcome and also gives more background information on your nonprofit.

Ask for Basic Information

Every application needs a section where the applicant can fill in the basic information you’ll need to contact them throughout the screening process, such as their:

  • Full legal name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Depending on what type of screening you do for your volunteers, you may need more in-depth background information, such as previous addresses. You should speak with your director or legal advisor to see what you can and cannot ask volunteers to provide.

Request Work Experience

Include a section for the candidate to list their current workplace, if applicable, and relevant past work experience. You may discover through this section that the volunteer speaks another language or has carpentry skills that could be a huge boon to your organization.

Find out Why They Want to Volunteer

When you’re making a volunteer application form, also include a space for the applicant to explain why they want to work with your organization. Their answer will give you an idea of their commitment and interest levels in regard to working with your organization.

Ask for References

This is one of the most important tips on creating a volunteer application form. You should always include a place for your applicant to list references. While it’s not a job interview, you do want to know the character of a person before you bring them on board. Ask for the name, phone number and email address of the reference. You can include space for two if you’d like, but at least get one.

Include a Spot for Times Available

Volunteers often need to clock in at certain times to perform their tasks. Ask your applicant what days and times they can work and for how many hours. While you may not use them all of that time, this information can aid you when you’re drawing up volunteer schedules and filling gaps in coverage.

With platforms like Volgistics, this can also be used for automatic volunteer and assignment matching.

Write up a Checklist of Volunteer Jobs

Finally, include a short section with volunteer positions available and ask the applicant to check all that interest them. This list might include:

  • Greeting people and helping them with check-ins
  • Sorting donations
  • Assisting with marketing
  • Various other activities

Using these volunteer application best practices, you can come up with a form that fulfills all your needs as an organization. If you want a place to store relevant documents, such as copies of driver’s licenses and other information, consider using volunteer management software from Volgistics. Contact us today or set up a free demo.

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You Can Copy One Volunteer’s Information with the Clipboard Copy Feature

Tip of the Week June 24, 2019

There may be times when you need to enter a volunteer’s basic information (such as name, address, phone number, etc.) into an outside word processing document. For example, some organizations may send letters to volunteers, or create award certificates. If you are doing this for multiple records, the most efficient method is to create a mail merge source file from Volgistics. However, this is not practical if you only need one volunteer’s information.

In this case, rather than copying and pasting each field (First name, Last name, Street 1, etc.), or manually entering the information, you can use Volgistics’ Clipboard Copy feature to copy the information from Volgistics to your computer’s clipboard. From there, you can paste the information into your outside document.

To do this, you must have the feature enabled and select the fields of information to copy. Help topic 1150 shows how to do this. This only has to be done the first time the feature is used. Once this is completed, help topic 1149 shows how to use the Clipboard Copy feature.

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Creating and Maintaining System Operator Records

Tip of the Week June 17, 2019

The credentials for the first Administrator in an account are created from the trial account information used when the account is started. Thereafter, the Administrator creates and maintains all System Operator records for the account. The Volgistics Team does not assign, or update, login credentials for operators.

Your account’s service level limits how many System Operator records can be in place. Each account has room for two operators by default. After this, the service level determines how many operators can be added.

You can view the System Operator records in your account by selecting Setup from the menu and then expanding the “System Operators” link. Each record has a “Date of Last Activity” field that shows when the operator accessed the system last. In some cases, such as if the record was updated, the “Date of Last Activity” will show that the operator has never logged in even if they have. In this case, you can search your account’s Event Log to see the last time the operator logged in. Your web browser’s Find feature (CTRL+F) can help you look for logins from one particular operator.

If you need to update or delete a System Operator’s record, select Setup from the menu, expand the “System Operators” link, and then select the operator’s name. To add a new operator, click the “Create a new operator” link.

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Import and Print Schedule in Excel

Tip of the Week June 10, 2019

Volgistics’ Schedule Reports are available in PDF format. However, there may be times you want to have the schedule in Excel format. There is not a report within Volgistics that is able to do this, but you can use the features in Excel to get the schedule information for a specific date into an Excel file.  Here is what you will need to do:

  1. Select Schedule from the menu.
  2. Go to the date you want the schedule for.
  3. Click the Printable View link that appears in the upper left corner under the date.
  4. Highlight and copy the URL address in the URL address bar.
  5. Launch Excel if it is not already open. Do not exit Volgistics.
  6. Select File from Excel’s menu.
  7. Select Open from Excel’s menu.
  8. Change the file type dropdown to “All Web Pages (*.htm,*html,…).”
  9. Paste the URL address you copied in step 4 into the File name field.
  10. Click the Open button. There may be a slight delay while the information is transferred from the web page to Excel.
  11. Depending on your security settings for Excel and Windows, you may be prompted to enter your Windows login information.
  12. You can use Excel’s menu to save the file as an .xlsx file.

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