Effective volunteer training is one component of success that your nonprofit cannot afford to miss.

Training a volunteer to confidently fulfill your organization’s opportunities is one of the most important aspects of developing a rewarding and structured experience for supporters. Volunteer training programs can increase development, motivation, and improve overall volunteer retention rates.

Volunteer training also communicates a level of professionalism, provides volunteers with a more effective experience, and offers them free resources to broaden their personal skill set…can you say win-win?

“Job training empowers people to realize their dreams and improve their lives” Sylvia Mathews Burwell

The level of training that your nonprofit provides volunteers depends mainly on the responsibilities of each role. Even though the extent of training may depend on your nonprofit and the particular role your organization is looking to fill there are three types of training you will want to provide.

These training types are:

  1. Basic nonprofit education
  2. Organization-based training
  3. Role-specific training

Your organization should use the volunteer training process as an opportunity to reinforce your organization’s mission, goals, and inspire volunteers to help achieve them. If your nonprofit does not have a volunteer training program in place now is a great time to start.

Here are 4 easy to implement volunteer training tips that can enhance your program today.


Volunteer Training Tips - Teach Volunteers in a Variety of Ways


People learn in different ways. This fact is the reason that your organization will want to provide training to volunteers in a variety of formats.

Believe it or not, there are seven ways that people prefer to learn.

The seven learning styles are:

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

Your nonprofit should incorporate these learning styles into your volunteer training program. Doing so will allow your organization to engage volunteers and their individual learning styles.

A few of the most common training formats are video, readings, lecture-style, and audio format. Online training programs are also an appealing viable option for some nonprofit organizations who want to reach volunteers all over the world or provide a convenient training option to supporters.

Providing volunteers with options on how to complete their training increases the likelihood of effectively delivering the information and promoting learnability.


volunteer training tip - create realistic training budget


Creating a budget and sticking to it is an important piece of volunteer training and the volunteer management process for nonprofits. A budget will help your organization allocate the right amount of funds to put into your program and limit the risk of overspending. Nonprofits who do not have a lot of room in the budget for training can still create a comprehensive training program by leveraging in-house experts, creating mentoring programs, and using online learning as part of their plan. Remember that your nonprofit’s budget should include both current and foreseeable costs.

Here are 5 tips to lower the cost of your volunteer training program:

  1. Look for opportunities to repurpose existing training materials.
  2. Leverage pre-existing eLearning templates that are available online.
  3. Utilize your current supporters and ask them to assist you in training.
  4. Create opportunities for cross-training.
  5. Create new training materials in-house.

volunteer training tip - make training appeal to all demographics


Sometimes it is easy to forget that your organization’s volunteers may range in age and overall demographics. It is key that your volunteer training program takes this factor into account. Training materials should provide value and be easily understood by anyone who is using them to learn how to fill opportunities. It is helpful to consider who your average volunteers are when creating program content.

It is also helpful to take into account US averages for volunteer demographics.

Here is the breakdown:

45 years to 54 years: 28%

35 years to 44 years: 28.9%

20 years to 24 years: 18.4%

16 years to 19 years: 26.4%

Your organization can utilize your volunteer management platform and CRM to mine data about your average volunteer and create personas that can be used in the development phase of your volunteer training program.


volunteer training tip - make engagement the core of training


As we have discussed many times in our blog engagement is the key to retaining your volunteer-base. Engagement makes the experience of learning fun and keeps volunteers interested in contributing their time to the greater good. If your nonprofit has not made engagement the core of your volunteer training program it is time you do.

Here are a few tips for incorporating engagement into your volunteer training program:

  1. Include gamification into your training experience.
  2. Incorporate group activities and role-playing as part of training.
  3. Ask volunteers for their feedback regarding your training program.
  4. Provide content that is emotionally-driven.
  5. Include practice exercises that are fun and create friendships.
  6. Don’t forget to reinforce your organization’s mission and tell stories of change to your trainees.


volunteer training tip - final thoughts


Effective volunteer training is one of the most important variables in creating long-term supporters. Training is the time to provide volunteers with a good first impression into how your organization operates and the impact their commitment will make on the community.

Remember to provide training in a variety of ways, create a realistic budget that looks at all costs, appeal to all volunteer demographics, and make engagement the core of your program.

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