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Volunteer training: mandatory duty or opportunity for growth?

Volunteers can bring an amazing array of skills, experience and enthusiasm to your organisation and well-planned training is a great way to reward them for their involvement and commitment by enabling them to develop a deeper understanding of their contribution and encouraging them to consider new or more responsible roles. By providing opportunities to develop and take on new responsibilities, training can support the volunteer's long-term enthusiasm and involvement.

Of course, many roles now require mandatory training and sadly this can constitute a barrier to volunteer engagement as individuals may fear that they might be made to feel inadequate or patronised. Volunteers may also resent the time they are asked to spend in activities which they do not find intrinsically fulfilling or which they regard as cynical box ticking. Didn't they become volunteers because they wanted to roll up their sleeves and make a difference?

So, how do you make your mandatory training engaging for your staff and efficient from the volunteer manager's perspective?

Traditionally delivered mandatory training can also be difficult to organise and expensive in terms of both money and staff time. And many volunteers may simply not have the time or flexibility to attend training at the times at which it can be made available.

So, how do you make your mandatory training engaging for your staff and efficient from the volunteer manager's perspective? Targeted e-learning courses written or tailored by the volunteer manager and focussed on the precise needs of the organisation will have maximum credibility for the volunteers and provide the best value for the organisation. Volunteers can work through them at the time that is most convenient to them, working at their own pace and in privacy.

Hardly surprisingly volunteers are responding well to this approach – but you don't have to take our word for it. Gillian Austin, Head of Volunteering and Community Engagement at The Hospice of St Francis, Berkhamsted, says:

The Hospice of St Francis implemented online mandatory training about four years ago to ensure a consistent approach to training for all staff and volunteers. After testing a few systems, we felt Training Tracker met our needs and have been pleased with the product ever since.

Training Tracker is simple and easy to use and, following a recent update, it now looks great too! Our volunteers and staff all log-in to Training Tracker, completing the modules we've assigned to them. If they are a nurse or shop manager, a different set of modules will be given and we can easily report on who still has training outstanding.

When we first implemented the online training, it was received with uncertainty. However, all those who attempted it found the easy-to-use platform to be quite refreshing and were pleasantly surprised by the layout and simplicity. As someone who helps to design, test and update the modules, I find it intuitive and simple.

The Training Tracker team have taken on board feedback and recommendations, and updated the system accordingly. This has led to improvements in the reporting functionality and we are now able to set renewal dates for training.

Request a free trial and find out for yourself how easy it can be to deliver online training.

Graham Spinks | 06 April, 2018

See how easy online learning can be with a free trial