Organizational Volunteer Training
Volunteers are an integral part of the work of most non-profit organizations. They provide vital support for both the frontline work and the back office tasks of many charities, and in some smaller organizations, the volunteers are the staff. First, it is important to note that there are an almost infinite number of volunteer types, jobs, and abilities. Some of your volunteers will be part time, others full time. Some will be qualified to answer the phones or stuff mail; others will be exceptional fundraisers, trained client service representatives, or grassroots advocacy leaders.
Volunteers Need Training
No matter the type or ability of your volunteers, they all need training and support from your non-profit organization. Even if the volunteer in question is already well versed in how to do the job you are assigning them, they will need to spend some time learning the ropes of this organization, getting to know the organization’s mission, vision, and plans, and educating themselves about the work that you do.
Just as every member of your staff needs to spend some time in orientation / training mode, every volunteer you bring on board needs to be educated and encouraged. The first type of training we offer your volunteers is a basic education on non-profit work. While this component isn’t as necessary for experienced volunteers, for greener recruits, time spent on basic non-profit concepts will offer huge benefits down the road.
Basic Non-Profit Education
We will spend time explaining the basic mechanics of a non-profit organization: What is a non-profit? Why do they exist? How is the typical non-profit run and organized? What is the role of fundraising in a charity organization? What are the ethical considerations that go in to non-profit work? Next, we will move on to information about your particular non-profit organization. Every volunteer (and staffer) will require this education, no matter their skill level.
Specific Training about Your Organization
We will take the time to give your workers a thorough background on your organization: What is your mission? How were you founded? Why do you exist? How have you grown or evolved over the years? We will review your group’s overall vision, how you want to make the world a better place, your key partners and the issues you care about.
We will also work with you to give a brief overview of your organization’s growth plan. What is your business model? What are your plans for the future? We will introduce your organization’s hierarchy and leadership to help explain who is doing what, and where volunteers should go with questions and complaints.
Once your volunteers understand the basics about non-profits in general and your organization in particular, it’s time to move onto more specific job training. At this point, we will help you to develop a system to determine in which general areas each volunteer will be working.
Vetting and Screening Volunteers
Different people want to be volunteers for different reasons. The vast majority are well-intentioned persons with extra time, energy, expertise and other resources who see a cause they are interested and want to be involved in an effort to have an impact in making things better. Others may have reasons that are not so noble. For the sake of your organization, and the population you serve, you should screen and vet potential volunteers to assure that no harm, either intentional or unintentional, comes to those you serve. Sometimes people with the right intentions make mistakes and cause unintentional damage or harm. Preventing this is a must for any serious and successful non-profit.
We will work with your organization to set up appropriate vetting and screening protocols for making sure your volunteers are there for the right reasons, and that they understand the areas of vulnerability those you serve may have. This is a vitally important aspect of running a non-profit in today’s world.
Veterans Issues -Training Professionals & Volunteers
In order to develop and sustain an organization oriented to serving victims of trauma, especially military service members and veterans, your organization’s staff and volunteers must have a clear, and consistent, understanding of the issues facing this constituency. Working with this population is a co-creative process of developing trust, creating a safe environment and offering recreational services that are a compliment to the continuum of care that they are enrolled in.
We offer both basic and advanced training for organizations that work with victims of trauma, persons with trauma related disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress (PTS), minor traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and military sexual trauma (MST) about their general and specific issues. This training is suitable for both professional providers and non-professional volunteers.
Here is a typical agenda of topics we might cover for your organization:
Understanding the Veterans: Learn About Your Target Audience
- Understanding the VA system: VA Medical Centers, CBOC, PRRC, CLC
- The Therapeutic value of recreational services related to various veteran populations served through the VA system: Mental Health Recovery, Substance Abuse Recovery, Physical Disabilities and Geriatrics
- What We Have Learned: What has worked and what did not work: Learning from our mistakes and fostering growth of recreational programs
- Adaptations and modifications for physical limitations and emotional concerns
Impact of Disabling Conditions on Veterans
- Presentation by a licensed professional on the various disabling conditions that impact veterans who participate in recreational programs.
- Psychological trauma vs Physical trauma
- PTDS, TBI, substance use disorders, pain management, sexual abuse, etc.
- Working with veterans with disabilities: How to spot and respond to signs of distress
- Working with female veterans – Self, body and respect
- Military Sexual Trauma – special issues of PTS
- Family cohesion
- Transitioning back to civilian life
Ethnic and Cultural Issues
- Military life as a unique culture
- Cultural values and veterans issues – different meanings
- Camaraderie – Dislike
- Safety – Jeopardy
- Trust – Uncertainty
- Family – Individualism
- Religious – Spiritual
- Community – Home
- Honor – Shame
- Success – Failure
- Public – Private
- Patriotism – Politics
- Bravery – Weakness
Outing Safety and Trip Planning Management
- Trips: Objectives and purposes of trips
- What to expect and how to be prepared
- Safety and comfort considerations for our participants
- Logistics and funding
- Policies and Procedures: Release forms for media, liability
Outreach and Public Relations
- Spreading awareness of your organization in your community
- Documentation: Using photography, written word, video
- Publicize events: Using social media, community outreach, local media