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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