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How to Provide the Right Amount of Nonprofit Volunteer Training

The degree and extent of volunteer training depends on the type of job your nonprofit is asking them to do. Volunteers who answer telephones, for example, may need more training than those who stuff envelopes for the publicity committee. To successfully answer phones, these volunteers need to know background information about the program, information about the types of services available, proper telephone etiquette, and emergency procedures, among other details.

If you need to provide a full day’s training or training over a longer period, consult with a professional trainer to either provide the training or help you design the curriculum. Although you may be concerned about investing too much of volunteers’ valuable time in training, remember that key motivations for volunteering include meeting people and enjoying time with friends.

Trainings can be great opportunities to introduce volunteers to one another and build camaraderie among them. It’s a good idea to schedule refresher training sessions for ongoing volunteers, too.

In addition to offering on-site training, give volunteers written materials that restate the information covered in the training. Include with these materials attendance requirements, details about whom to contact in case of illness, and other necessary information that volunteers may need to know when carrying out their tasks.

Larger organizations that use many volunteers sometimes publish a volunteer handbook. Such a handbook doesn’t need to be an elaborately printed document; it can be several typed pages stapled together, a simple loose-leaf notebook, or a PDF posted on the organization’s website. The more information you provide, the better your volunteers can perform.

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