Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Importance of Volunteer Training Programs

I currently have the opportunity to serve as the lead volunteer trainer for the Junior League of Gwinnett & North Fulton Counties. We call our program Junior League University, but the premise is not unlike many other volunteer training efforts - to teach our members/volunteers how to grow their leadership skills for the betterment of themselves and our organization. While many volunteer placements offer "on the job" training (which you know I advocate strongly), the concept of servant leadership and the intricacies of managing people that don't "have to" work for you can create a gap in skillsets for nonprofit volunteers.

Because I've managed volunteers for over 15 years, I know that the most important thing you can offer your volunteers are the tools to help them succeed in their role. In almost every case, volunteer leadership training is required for successful outcomes. And if you are in a volunteer leadership role, you should be proactive and ask if the organization offers any training to assist in your role.

As a volunteer, you reap multiple rewards for taking advantage of training opportunities offered to you as part of your role within a nonprofit organization.
  1. Gives you the tools to have a better/more effective volunteer experience
  2. Typically offers leadership lessons that translate easily to the workplace
  3. It's FREE training! Why not take advantage?
One of the training modules I've lead this year for both Junior League University and the Georgia Tech Young Alumni Council focused on "appreciative leadership" and "the art of delegation". While this combination of skills is crucial for successfully leading volunteer teams, it's also incredibly valuable to anyone leading teams in the workplace. Every lesson from those training sessions not only moves the organization forward, but it gives the volunteer leader tools to use in any leadership situation.

And don't forget - be sure to highlight the training you've received as part of your nonprofit service on your professional and volunteer resumes!