by Maria Lahiffe
So, you successfully recruited some volunteers for your cause. Congratulations! The next step is to give them the knowledge and skills they need in order to support your mandate to the very best of their abilities.
Orientation and training are crucial to volunteer success. They provide the following benefits:  
Orientation provides a general introduction to the organization, including information such as organizational departments, activites, location, policies, rules and regulations, etc. Orientation will likely happen before the first training.
Training increases a person’s knowledge, skills, and competences. It is usually job-specific. Training is not necessarily just provided to new volunteers; it may also be provided to people entering new roles, or to all staff if a new procedure or external standard comes into place.
These are the elements of the Orientation and Training standard from the CCVI. 
Make sure your orientation goes beyond introducing everyone and showing volunteers where the photocopier is. Most people volunteer because they care about the cause the organization supports. Make sure you give volunteers some background on that, as well as enough information about how your organization works, that they can make decisions independently.
These are related. Training specific to the role includes the skills and competencies needed to fulfill the role to a high standard. Policies and procedures are related to skills and competencies, and also let the volunteer know the wider context of the role, to help her make decisions when she is unsure.
Training needs to take into account volunteers’ individual learning needs and prior knowledge. Training programs should be designed according to current best practices in instructional design.
Volunteer retention is less work than recruitment. Make sure you provide your volunteers with opportunities to keep their skills current, and to move into other jobs if their interests and your needs align.
Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to volunteer management. Click here for more information, and to register. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.
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