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Recruiting and Training Volunteers & Building an Effective Volunteer Training Program

Week 2 – Discussion

Building an Effective Volunteer Training Program

In your opinion, what could hamper the building of an effective volunteer training program? Use this week’s readings, additional research, and your personal experiences to discuss the process of training volunteers. Consider and address volunteer learning styles in Chapter 10 of the Connors (2012) text in your response, and describe how you would benefit from training that acknowledged your learning style. How would you use this information to develop an effective training program for volunteers in your organization?

Week 2 – Assignment

Recruiting and Training Volunteers

In the past two weeks you have explored the importance of recruiting and training volunteers for an organization. Choose an organization with which you are familiar or one in your community.

· First, identify the types of volunteers that the organization uses (or could use).

· Evaluate at least three different recruitment methods that could be used for these volunteers.

· Identify the best method the organization could use to recruit volunteers.

· Next, identify two of the commonly used volunteer training programs.

· Explain the advantages and disadvantages of your chosen programs.

· Detail how these training methods could be used for the volunteers.

Your paper should be 1,050-1,400 words (3-4 pages) in length, not including the title page, formatted in accordance with APA guidelines. Provide specific examples to illustrate your conclusions using a minimum of three credible sources, also cited in accordance with APA guidelines.

Resources

Required References

Connors, T. D. (2011). 
Wiley nonprofit law, finance and management series: volunteer management handbook: leadership strategies for success (Links to an external site.)

 (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN-13: 9780470604533. 

Chapter 8: The Latest Approach to Volunteer Recruitment
Chapter 10: Training Volunteers

Recommended References

Agovino, T. (2016). The giving generation. HR Magazine, 61 (7), 36-38, 40, 42, 44.

Connors, T. D. (2012). The volunteer management handbook (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. 
Chapter 9: Orientation

Kolar, D., Skilton, S., & Judge, L. W. (2016). Human resource management with a volunteer workforce. Journal of Facility Planning, Design, and Management, 4(1)  doi:10.18666/JFPDM-2016-V4-I1-7300

Manetti, G., Bellucci, M., Como, E., & Bagnoli, L. (2015). Investing in volunteering: Measuring social returns of volunteer recruitment, training and management. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 26(5), 2104-2129. doi:10.1007/s11266-014-9497-3

Nesbit, R., Rimes, H., Christensen, R. K., & Brudney, J. L. (2016). Inadvertent volunteer managers: Exploring perceptions of volunteer managers’ and volunteers’ roles in the public workplace. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 36 (2), 164-187. doi:10.1177/0734371X15576409

Pynes, J. E. (2013). Human resources management for public and nonprofit organizations: A strategic approach (4th ed.). Somerset, NJ: Jossey-Bass. ISBN-13: 9781118398623. 
Chapter 9: Training and Career Development

Scott, C. L.  (2016). 7 reasons nonprofit organizations have trouble recruiting volunteers [Video file]. Retrieved from

7 Reasons Nonprofit Organizations Have Trouble Recruiting Volunteers (Links to an external site.)



7 Reasons Nonprofit Organizations Have Trouble Recruiting Volunteers

Recruiting and Training Volunteers & Building an Effective Volunteer Training Program

CHAPTER 10

Training Volunteers
Mary Kay Hood, MS

Hendricks Regional Health

Volunteers are on board, committed, oriented, and now ready to go, right? Not sofast. Orientation and training, while similar in nature, are definitively two different
entities with two different purposes. Orientation includes a broad overview and intro-
duction to the organization, its culture and norms, and basic rules and regulations
along with behavioral expectations. Training, on the other hand, provides methods
for the volunteer to be successful in their specific position, tasks, or opportunities.

As the quest continues to keep volunteers on the right path for the organization,
providing meaningful training is but one method to keep them engaged. According
to The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (Senge, Kleiner, Roberts, & Ross, 1994), training is
part of building a learning organization, not only because organizations want supe-
rior performance, but also to improve quality, build competitive advantage, energize
the work force and manage change. Today’s current world demands that training be
a part of the organization success. It follows that volunteers be included in training
for these same reasons.

According to Senge, the ability to do things that could not be done before is
but one way to measure the genuine learning cycle. Skills and capabilities fall into
three areas, as illustrated in Exhibit 10.1.

EXHIBIT 10.1 Three Areas of Skills and Capabilities

237
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1. Aspiration. The desire or capacity to seek more information
2. Reflection and conversation. The ability to reflect on information and behavior
3. Conceptualization. The ability to see the larger systems and forces that work to-

gether to create the world in which we live

Learning Styles

Jones and Chen address experiential learning in their New Supervisor Training (2002)
guide. According to Pfeiffer and Jones’s (1981) theory of experiential learning cycle,
there are five phases represented as shown in Exhibit 10.2.

1. Experiencing. The activity phase which involves engaging in common activity
that directly relates to duties/tasks.

2. Publishing. Where people share with others what they have learned.
3. Processing. Group discussion that reinforces learning activity.
4. Generalizing. The transition state from theoretical discussion to how it can be

applied in the real world.
5. Applying. The move from generalizing to actually doing.

While most training activities focus on the experiencing phase, the other four
phases are just as crucial to solidifying the information exchange. It is not a bad idea
to ask questions that hit the heart of each phase during the training process. Question-
ing in the publishing phase might deal with emotions: what the volunteers experi-
enced as well as if they noticed what others seemed to be experiencing. For the
processing phase, questions should focus on whether the volunteers noticed patterns
of behavior emerging from the group. In the generalizing phase, questions about
conclusions drawn from the training and how work might be affected should

EXHIBIT 10.2 Learning Cycle

238 Training Volunteers

The Volunteer Management Handbook : Leadership Strategies for Success, edited by Tracy D. Connors, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011.
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be discussed. The applying phase, as the name suggests, focuses on how the training
can be translated to the actual work, which in turn allows the volunteers to consider
actual implementation.

In a similar fashion, Senge et al. (1994) refer to the wheel of learning (Exhibit 10.3)
beginning with the reflecting phase. This phase concentrates on the thinking and
feeling of what is about to happen. As the learning continues, connecting is the next
stage. Connecting is all about creating ideas and possibilities—thinking outside the
box—rearranging existing thought into new forms. Once all options have been
explored, the deciding phase is the next step. Often the phase where action plans are
decided, this phase also brings choice into the process. Last, the actual doing is where
the task is actually being performed. Frequently done in an experimental frame of
mind, “doing” helps determine if it is the correct course of action so that changes can
be made if deemed necessary.

While this wheel of learning refers to an individual, when considered in a group
setting, this translates to public reflection, shared meaning, joint planning, and coor-
dinated action. David Kolb (1994) suggests that most people are naturally drawn to
one or two of these phases. He goes on to suggest quadrant style learning represented
in Exhibit 10.4.

The divergent thinkers then become the “brainstormers” in the group. They have
the capability to see things/problems/solutions from all different perspectives. The di-
vergent thinkers are essential to successful learning because they are the ones who
will offer alternatives and options. The connection makers, thought to be the systems
thinkers, take all the options presented and draw hypotheses, suggesting the reason-
ing behind why something may or may not work. The solution finders, considered the
convergent thinkers, while capable of considering the abstract, are drawn to experi-
mentation to verify solution analysis. The last group, accommodators, aptly named
because they accommodate the process for the entire group. Transforming through
all four quadrants, the accommodators can move from theory to reality.

The National Training Laboratories of Bethel Maine believes that there is a learn-
ing pyramid framework illustrated in Exhibit 10.5. Complete with average retention

EXHIBIT 10.3 Wheel of Learning

Learning Styles 239

The Volunteer Management Handbook : Leadership Strategies for Success, edited by Tracy D. Connors, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011.
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rates of material learned, this coincides with the concept of audio, visual and experi-
ential learning.

Education and training generally agrees that there are three basic styles of learning:
visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Learning is dependent on the senses to process infor-
mation. Most people tend to use one of their senses more than the others. Visual learn-
ers learn by seeing and looking, auditory learners learn by hearing and listening, and
kinesthetic learners learn by touching and doing. Everyone has a mix of learning styles:
some may use one style in one situation and a different style in a different situation.
General characteristics of these three different learners can be summarized as:

Visual Learners

& Take numerous detailed notes.
& Tend to sit in the front.
& Are usually neat and clean.

EXHIBIT 10.4 Quadrant-Style Learning

EXHIBIT 10.5 Learning Pyramid

240 Training Volunteers

The Volunteer Management Handbook : Leadership Strategies for Success, edited by Tracy D. Connors, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011.
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& Often close their eyes to visualize or remember something.
& Find something to watch if they are bored.
& Like to see what they are learning.
& Benefit from illustrations and presentations that use color.
& Are attracted to written or spoken language rich in imagery.
& Prefer stimuli to be isolated from auditory and kinesthetic distraction.
& Find passive surroundings ideal.
& Have a sharp, clear picture of an experience.

Auditory Learners

& Sit where they can hear but need not pay attention to what is happening in front.
& May not coordinate colors or clothes but can explain why they are wearing what

they are wearing.
& Hum or talk to themselves or others when bored.
& Acquire knowledge by reading aloud.
& Remember by verbalizing lessons to themselves (the concept can be translated or

described in words)
& Identify sounds related to an experience.

Kinesthetic Learners

& Need to be active and take frequent breaks.
& Speak with their hands and with gestures.
& Remember what was done but have difficulty recalling what was said or seen.
& Find reasons to tinker or move when bored.
& Rely on what they can directly experience or perform.
& Activities such as cooking, construction, engineering, and art help them perceive

and learn.
& Enjoy field trips and tasks that involve manipulating materials.
& Sit near the door or someplace else where they can easily get up and move

around.
& Are uncomfortable in classrooms where they lack opportunities for hands-on

experience.
& Communicate by touching and appreciate physically expressed encouragement,

such as a pat on the back.
& Develop a strong feeling towards an experience.

While the three learning styles are generally accepted in the educational arena,
these can also be dissected a bit more into the next types:

& Visual (spatial). Preference for using pictures, images, and spatial understanding
& Aural (auditory-musical). Preference for using sound and music
& Verbal (linguistic). Preference for words, both in speech and writing
& Physical (kinesthetic). Preference for using the body, hands, and sense of touch
& Logical (mathematical). Preference for using logic, reasoning, and systems
& Social (interpersonal). Preference for learning in groups or with other people
& Solitary (intrapersonal). Preference for working alone, using self-study

Learning Styles 241

The Volunteer Management Handbook : Leadership Strategies for Success, edited by Tracy D. Connors, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011.
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Adult learning styles need to be considered in volunteer training, but it is important
not to overlook the importance of physiological and psychosocial variables. Taken from
the VolunteerToday.com Web site physiological variables can be described as:

& Health. Temporary or continuing physical conditions can influence attendance,
attention span and cognitive abilities.

& Hearing. If the training will employ auditory techniques, diminished hearing has
significant ramifications for training.

& Seeing. Adults (and teens) of all ages experience visual problems that may hinder
their ability to read printed material.

& Energy. As volunteers age, energy levels can be affected with fatigue setting in as
energy wanes.

Psychosocial variables include:

& Personality. Typically a consistent way of behaving, personality encompasses so-
cial attitudes, motivation, values and beliefs, temperament, pathological disposi-
tion, stylistic traits, intellectual and cognitive abilities, and physique.

& Cognitive. Learning is a process that is influenced by the state of the learner, prior
knowledge, and attitudes.

& Role. Defined as a social set of rights and obligations.
& Experience. Often considered the “demographics” to learning, this relates to age,

sex, race, religion, heritage, education, region, work history, etc.

Understanding adult learning styles, physiological and psychosocial variables is
but one way towards achieving success of volunteers engaged in your organization.
Another factor to consider is the generational relevance. In other words, how do gen-
erational issues relate to individuals and how does that interface with successful
training.

Generational Issues

According to Richard McBrien (1981):

It has been observed that if the last fifty thousand years of human existence were
divided into lifetimes of approximately sixty-two years each, there have been
about eight hundred lifetimes. Of these eight hundred, six hundred and fifty
were spent in caves. Only during the last seventy lifetimes has it been possible to
communicate through the written word, and only during the last six lifetimes has
the human community had access to the printed word. Only during the last four
lifetimes have we been able to measure time precisely, and only in the last two
have we had the use of an electric motor. And within the same lifetime—our
own—we have seen part of the world pass successively from agriculture as the
primary form of human labor, to the manual labor of the factories, and then to
the so-called white-collar labor of salespersons, administrators, educators, com-
municators, and so forth.

242 Training Volunteers

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It is an interesting concept to think of all the changes seen in a lifetime. In
today’s world, those changes happen faster than they did in previous lifetimes.
Dealing with volunteers in any organization means dealing with people of all
ages, from teens to 90-somethings. Dealing with young teens requires diversity
and different styles than dealing with the senior volunteers. Add to that the idea of
recognition and retention in volunteer programs and it is easy to see that under-
standing the generations helps in providing a volunteer environment for everyone.
Mastering the art of training, recognition, retention or any other aspect of volunteer
program management is based on an understanding of your audience. The audi-
ence of today’s youth and teens is vastly different from the older volunteers that
might be in volunteer programs.

According to Lancaster and Stillman (2002), the four generations break down
into:

& Traditionalists: born from 1900 to 1945
& Baby Boomers: born from 1946 to 1964
& Generation Xers: born from 1965 to 1980
& Millennials: born from 1981 to 1999

Proponents of ageless thinking, Lancaster and Stillman (2002) believe that the
events and conditions that are experienced in the formative years are those that deter-
mine who we are and how we see the world as adults. And though there are common
life stages that everyone passes through, different generations do not approach these
common life stages in the same way.

Exhibit 10.6 presents a snapshot of the 2000 Census Data, illustrating numbers
that make up the generational areas.

Age
85+

80-84
75-79
70-74
65-69
60-64
55-59
50-54
45-49
40-49
35-39
30-34
25-39
20-24
15-19
10-14

5-9
<5

1215 12 159 96 63 0
Millions

Male Female

2000
1950
1900

3

EXHIBIT 10.6 Total Population by Age and Sex: 1900, 1950, and 2000

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Generational Issues 243

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Some obvious interesting tidbits about the generations include:

& The Millennials are sometimes referred to as the Net Generation, or Generation Y,
but all grew up with computers, Internet and interactive technology, something
totally foreign to the Veteran generation in their formative years. However, the
important thing to remember when considering technology is that this is the first
time in history that children are an authority on something important.

& Boomers are the largest generation this country has seen, representing 45% of the
adult population.

& The Gen Xers are the smallest generation in U.S. history largely due to the intro-
duction of the birth control pill. With the pill, people could for the first time, deter-
mine when and how many children they wished to have and as illustrated in
Exhibit 10.6, the smallest generation following the Boomers is the Gen Xers.

No matter how many generations are considered, the key to survival of business
lies in communication. And different generations think, process information, and com-
municate differently. The reason for that is the concept of “defining moments” (Merrill,
2001). The key question to ask in determining the values of people is not how old
they are now but rather what happened when they were young. Any Veteran of the
Traditionalist generation will mention the Depression and World War II. Ask any
Boomer where they were when they heard President John F. Kennedy had been shot
and they can all tell you. Boomers also dealt with the Vietnam War. The Gen Xers will
most likely list the Challenger explosion and the first Gulf War as something that had
great impact for them. And of course, for the Millennials, it will be September 11. The
full impact of that defining moment remains to be seen but the event certainly
changed the face of daily operations for this country.

Some broad generational characteristics are summarized and illustrated in
Exhibit 10.7.

Considering the defining moments, how does this translate to values for each
generation? The Veterans are a stable and loyal generation. This generation went to
work for one company and then retired some 35 to 45 years later. They dealt with
things in a consistent, uniform manner and valued law and order. With distinct gender
roles, this generation is hardworking and dislikes ambiguity and change. Shaped by
the depression and the war, this generation rebuilt the nation into the American
Dream. Respectful of others, they value their experience and wish to have their

EXHIBIT 10.7 Characteristics of Different Generations

Boomers Gen X Millennials

Confident X X X
Techno-Savvy X X
Team Oriented X X
Street Smart X
Globally Conscious X X
Diversity X X
Optimism X X
Entrepreneurial X X X

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expertise and dedication valued in the workplace. The Veterans generally value hard
work, duty, sacrifice, thriftiness, and quality work. As a generation who often worked
at the same places their entire work life, this generation does not like change. They are
comfortable in the way things have been done and see no reason to shake things up
for the sake of change. Their philosophy is if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Representing 45% of the adult population in the United States with 70% of women
working outside the home, the Boomer generation attained a first for women whose
traditional role had been the stay-at-home mom. True to the times, this generation
fights against authority with nostalgia for the 1960s. Optimistic in nature, this genera-
tion is team oriented, looking for personal growth and gratification. In the workplace,
this generation wants to be valued, with the recognition that their contribution is
unique and important. As a generation who began crusading their causes in the
1960s, this generation will again crusade their causes through their activity in the re-
tirement years. That could be through part-time employment or volunteer activity. At
any rate, this socially conscious generation will re-define things into the future in
much the same way they have re-defined things in the past. With a “buy now and pay
later” mentality, this generation seeks to work efficiently, but still values the hierarchi-
cal structure of who to turn to for guidance, advice and sometimes decisions.

The Gen Xers represent the smallest generation in the history of the United States.
This was the first generation of latchkey kids who came home to an empty house
while both parents worked. Considering that they often came home to an empty
house, these children were truly wanted by their parents. Often independent and re-
sourceful, this generation has a bit of a survivor mentality. This generation wants to be
appreciated, but they want to be flexible and have a life beyond work. In creating a
team environment, this gives this generation the family they never had as kids be-
cause of the dual working parents. With a personal focus, they live for today. In the
workplace, they are seeking and willing to eliminate the unnecessary tasks
when possible.

The Millennials have the most age-diverse group of parents. As such, this gener-
ation can be judged by the fact that they were definitively wanted by their parents
and will be wanted in the job market. Parents gave this generation quality time and
the result is a generation of coddled and confident young people. This generation
has the potential to be the largest generation since the Baby Boomers and will shape
trends, consumption and markets in the future. Technologically savvy, this group
has the tenacity to stick it out and figure it out until it works right. With an ability to
multitask, this generation needs supervision, structure, growth opportunities and di-
versity in projects. They have lofty financial and personal goals and fully expect to
meet them. The Millennials are always asking, “What’s next?” doing things on their
terms by just showing up. With a mindset to earn to spend, this generation is more
likely to do exactly what’s asked, nothing more or less. Born during a time of eco-
nomic growth, the country made a mid-course economic shift leading to genera-
tional change as well. With the economic change and subsequent world event of
September 11, the long-term effect of these happenings will be known only in the
future. However, it is important to remember that the Millennials have never known
life without technology. While many of us can remember the introduction of color
television, this generation has grown up with cell phones, pagers, faxes, voice mail
and computers you can hold in your hands.

Generational Issues 245

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When it comes to values, some generational differences are shown in
Exhibit 10.8.

And so it is with this understanding that four generations work together in the
organization. To be successful, managers/supervisors and leaders must be able to
communicate in four languages, one for each generation as described. With com-
munication as a part of training, techniques for communicating with each genera-
tion requires an understanding of the best method of communication for each
generation and presenting information in a way that can best be understood by the
generation receiving the information.

Nuts and Bolts of Training

Never assume that people know, understand, and comprehend what seems like sec-
ond nature to you. Everyone needs orientation to the environment and training on
how to be successful for the tasks/duties they are expected to do. When you begin to
think about designing a meaningful program, you should consider:

1. What knowledge, skills, or abilities does the volunteer need to perform this
assignment?

2. What kind of skills is the training supposed to provide?
3. What kind of individual learning experiences can be incorporated that will give

the volunteer ample opportunities to practice the skills required?

Incorporating meaningful training opportunities into the volunteer program is an
investment. Usually thought of as an expense in most organizations, the long-term
payoff for adequately trained resources will be obvious. As the design is identified,
promote the department and organization as one with a culture of learning. This sends
the message to volunteers that training is not solely limited to new volunteers. If vol-
unteers and paid staff don’t stay current with the fast-paced changes in today’s world,
the organization will only fall behind and become obsolete.

Management needs to be supportive of training and training needs. It’s easy to
believe that the easy answer to the organization’s needs is getting volunteers…but if
they are not adequately trained, how can the organization expect the volunteers to
remain committed to your cause or the organization? This hits the entire concept of
making volunteers truly feel as if they are part of the organization.

There are situations that call for general knowledge/information sharing that
can be done in large group settings (broad information about the organization,

EXHIBIT 10.8 Generational Differences

Veterans Baby Boomers Gen Xers Millennials

Hard work Personal fulfillment Uncertainty “What’s next?”
Duty Optimism Personal focus On my terms
Sacrifice Crusading causes Live for today Just show up
Thriftiness Buy now/pay later Save, save, save Earn to spend
Work fast Work efficiently Eliminate the task Do exactly what’s asked

246 Training Volunteers

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expectations with regard to basic rules, etc). The more intricate and difficult detailed
training expectations, the smaller the group should be. This allows for adequate op-
portunity for volunteers to open up for discussion, ask questions, review the learning
and develop the skills.

If the thought of small training sessions appears as though it may overload
your schedule, consider enlisting the assistance of more experienced volunteers to
function as trainers for the training. Experienced volunteers can provide excellent
examples of role playing while providing insight into how best to handle problems
and objections.

Part of the responsibility of the volunteer program manager is to help potential
volunteers achieve their best results through the training efforts provided. Some tips
to assist in this endeavor include:

& Training should be done incrementally—one step at a time, building upon the
base established.

& The learning should be in structured logical order so that the content can be
learned sequentially.

& Provide concrete examples in the training wherever possible—it solidifies the
idea for the volunteer.

& Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from the volunteer to ensure that they are
grasping the content.

& Reinforce learning with the volunteer as they demonstrate understanding and
competency.

& Where possible, demonstrate by actually doing the tasks or through role-playing.
It makes it more realistic.

Create Learning Environments

Do not ignore the environment in which the training will be taking place. It is impor-
tant to create a learning environment to maximize the understanding of the concepts/
topics/issues to be covered. Jones and Chen (2002) refer to four conditions that create
opportunities for maximum learning.

1. Confidentiality. It is human nature to not wish to be seen or perceived as igno-
rant. Training needs to focus on the concept of gained knowledge and skill build-
ing to do the tasks at hand, rather than any opportunity to make someone appear
weak or inept. Reassure all participants that the training will remain confidential
and then stay true to your word.

2. Freedom from distractions. The time spent should be focused on the training at
hand rather than work and personal demands. In today’s world with multi-
purpose cell phones everywhere, it’s a smart idea to set the expectations before
the training begins. Ask volunteers to turn cell phones off or put them on vibrate.

3. Personal responsibility for learning. The trainer/facilitator can only go so far.
They can present the information with as much interaction as possible. But it is
still up to the participant to be actively engaged and committed to learning.

4. Group-wide participation. Everyone brings a unique perspective to the training.
Be sure to allow adequate time for group discussion and information sharing.

Nuts and Bolts of Training 247

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Recruiting and Training Volunteers & Building an Effective Volunteer Training Program

CHAPTER 8

The Latest Approach to
Volunteer Recruitment

Competency-Competence Pathways and
Volunteer Resource Management Systems

Stephen Hobbs, EdD
WELLth Learning Network

It is worth writing again and again: Volunteers are the lifeblood of a volunteer-basedorganization. While the organization mission, vision, and values are the backbone,
the staff the skeletal system, the clients the organs of the body and the community the
skin, it is the lifeblood-sharing efforts of the volunteers that keep the body nourished
and vibrant.

With a slight variation on the theme of the Canadian Blood Services’ recruitment
campaign “Blood: It’s in You to Give,” it is possible for volunteer-based organizations
to present this recruitment campaign: “Volunteerism: It’s in You to Share.” The same
intention is present. The same outcome is required. This campaign is to recruit volun-
teers just as the other campaign is to recruit blood donors.

Without carrying the people and lifeblood metaphor to extremes, the case is
made that “volunteers are important.” Therefore, the recruitment of competent vol-
unteers becomes the focal point of volunteer resource managers. Note the adjective
before “volunteers” in the last sentence; the aim is to recruit competent volunteers.

Recruiting or deciding on competent volunteers has become a science and an
art. It is a science when the logical progression of steps and associated checks and
balances are used to decide and confirm if the potential and competent volunteer is
to move forward. Equally important are the creative, subjective insights volunteer
resource managers use to guide their final decisions about confirming and forward-
ing competent volunteers into the organization.

The suitable selection and use of an electronic volunteer resource management
software and/or online platform is important to assist volunteer resource managers
with their decisions. The selection and use of a volunteer resources management

205
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system (VRMS) increases the availability of data through information (Hobbs &
Dyble, 2002) from which informed decisions can be made. However, these deci-
sions still require personal interpretation to move volunteers forward.

An Internet search of vendors selling electronic VRMSs highlights the variety.
These vendors claim their systems organize the work from A to Z. However, a
buyer-beware recommendation is encouraged when choosing which system will
work best for the nonprofit organization (NPO). During the VRMS review, ask this
important question from the purchase requirement list: “Is the critical function of
recruiting volunteers (screen, interview, and assign) forefront in the day-to-day use
of the system? And if yes, is this function simple to use?” Volunteer resource manag-
ers cannot be slowed down by cumbersome VRMSs. The recruitment strategy must
flow easily and effortlessly with the aid of the VRMS. Also, access to and use by
new volunteers, existing volunteers, and managers must be fluid.

This chapter links the wise use of a software or Internet-enabled VRMS with
competence validation (explained later) to recruit competent volunteers. The com-
plementarity of the VRMS and validation offers volunteer resource managers a prac-
tical way to decide on the best volunteers to move forward into the organization. In
other words, the system helps the volunteer managers recruit volunteers who com-
petently fit the job requirements. This assistance is paramount to ongoing volunteer
resource viability within the NPO, the realistic efforts of the volunteer resource
managers and the coveted time given by the volunteers. Later in this chapter the
volunteer competence management system (VCMS) replaces the VRMS mentioned
here to emphasize the importance of competence validation.

Challenges with Volunteer Recruitment Today

Marketing to volunteers, just like recruitment (deciding on competent volunteers
through screening, interviewing, and assigning), is fast becoming both an art and a
science. From within the marketing noise, messages containing an ask must be la-
ser-focused as the NPO delivers its message and receives a favorable reply. To
gain the attention of people new to volunteering with the organization or to gain
the attention of previous volunteers, volunteer resource managers and their com-
munication colleagues must become skilled in techniques like social media and
campaigning. Within the campaign, the recruitment process must be compelling to
draw people’s attention from the volunteerism clamor and the living-life clatter
every day.

What follows are ten challenges facing volunteer recruitment. This list is cursory
and meant to highlight what is happening today.

Time Push and Pull

Time is a premium for everyone, perhaps more for those who hold a job than those
who have time freedom to share their effort with NPOs. People are pushed and pulled
for their time by family, friends, beliefs, desires, and work. This mix of variables is
difficult to reconcile unless NPOs campaign in ways to bridge and entwine the per-
sonal and work variables.

206 The Latest Approach to Volunteer Recruitment

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Savvy: Needs and Wants

Volunteers are becoming savvier in their giving decisions. They are seeking compel-
ling reasons to become involved with an NPO. Whether in giving time, effort, and/or
money, they are becoming choosier. Of utmost importance is the ease of access to
becoming involved. When they want to sign up, the recruitment and placement sys-
tem must flow easily and unfold intuitively for them to continue moving forward.

Process Efficiencies

New and existing volunteers recognize that organizations must exercise care in their
recruiting. Volunteers are looking for efficiency in the recruitment process. They want
to identify what they need to learn and how to move forward. Unexplained delays
and process hiccups or lack of communication as to why they have not been chosen
must be corrected quickly.

Learning and Development

Every day people are engaged in learning and development. Volunteers recognize
that they gain a lot when volunteering. However, learning in and of itself is no longer
a substantial reason to volunteer. The learning must have purpose; it must escalate to
something more than when they started. Status quo volunteerism is losing its appeal,
especially among the new generations of volunteers.

Rewards and Recognition

Woven into volunteer learning and development is the need for rewards and re-
cognition. A reward is managed through extrinsic motivation. Volunteer Resource
Managers (VRMs) manage volunteers to follow a clear ladder of tasks and how to
move within the organization systems. Recognition is led through intrinsic inspiration.
VRMs help volunteers link their involvement with achieving personal milestones and
gaining confidence.

Communication: Dialogue

Volunteers seek clear, consistent, and connective communication. Transparency is
important. They value the organization knowing what is expected of them and com-
municating those expectations early in their connection. With the advent of effective
Web sites (Allen, Goh, Rogelberg, & Currie, 2010) and social media platforms, com-
munication channels have opened up to support office, office-field, field-based, and
virtual volunteers. How people wish to receive communication is shifting as well.
Therefore, a communication strategy pertinent to the type of volunteers targeted must
be considered and available.

Competition: Organized Approach

The more organized the recruitment approach, the more likely the organization can
tap into the group of unassigned volunteers who are interested in social connections

Challenges with Volunteer Recruitment Today 207

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or learning. Those who already align with an organization mission will participate in
new approaches to organizing them so long as the process is not onerous for them
to navigate.

Seasonal Considerations: Length of Involvement

Volunteers may be involved in short-term and/or long-term commitments. As they
come and go, they must experience a system that supports their cyclical exit and
entrance. Special event volunteers are present to fulfill the needs and assignments of
the event. They are personally grateful to do so until the next special event or the
return of the event next year. Therefore, the system must be robust to retain records
of volunteers who only volunteer at cyclical special events.

Career and Job Advancement

People involve themselves in volunteer organizations as a way to gain experience,
knowledge, and skill for resumes and job application. The experience of volun-
teering provides them with insights into organization life transferable to other jobs.
New immigrants volunteer to stay involved and gain insight into community; many
use their volunteer experience as a next step along a career path. Volunteering for
some can be a forced choice when assigned through judicial requirements. While
the volunteer assignment is seen as giving back in return for what people have
taken away, the underlying effect is to expose people to meaningful work. There-
fore, the transferable knowledge and skills learned can be used in seeking other
forms of employment.

Type of Volunteers

There are four broad types of volunteers who operate face-to-face, virtually, and/or in
a blended format:

1. Day-to-day volunteers. They are available each day or week.
2. Special event (episodic) volunteers. They are available for particular and some-

times singular events as they arise or as they cycle through the calendar.
3. Managerial volunteers. They coordinate other volunteers on a day-to-day or spe-

cial event basis.
4. Governance volunteers. They are involved with board/organization discussions

and decisions.

Of these four types mentioned, recruiting competent managerial and governance
volunteers is best served by using a VRMS. It is suggested that some special event
volunteers holding senior positions be recruited using the VRMS and competence.
However, for day-to-day and other special event volunteers, the VRMS may or may
not be helpful. For larger organizations continually recruiting volunteers, the use of
the VRMS will be helpful. More insights supporting purchase decisions follow through
the rest of the chapter.

208 The Latest Approach to Volunteer Recruitment

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Volunteer Resources Management System

Hobbs (1999) presented a three-phase volunteer resources management model in
parallel to a human resources management model used in public and private organi-
zations. Since then, researchers and practitioners have presented many illustrations,
explanations, descriptions, and prescriptions of the VRMS. Merrill (2003, p. 81) pro-
vided a compelling introduction to the many actions within the VRMS, recognizing
that “volunteer managers deal with diverse managerial responsibilities.” Merrill asked
readers to use a pad of sticky notes and pen to list all of the activities inherent in a
VRMS. Once the notes are posted on the table or wall, she recommends applying a
grouping technique, such as like affinity charting (a data-sorting tool) to arrange the
various notes into a recognizable pattern. The meaningful pattern provides the head-
ings and actions within the VRMS.

VRMS software programs became available during the 1990s. Volunteer resource
managers were trying them out. Programmers were correcting their code with feedback
from the field. The buzz had started; the electronic age of VRMS had begun in earnest.
Instead of using spreadsheets and labor-intensive paperwork, volunteer resource manag-
ers had access to new electronic systems to help their volunteer administration.

Jump ahead a decade, and even more technology platforms and software are
available. These systems are touting the latest and greatest features and benefits, fash-
ion, and functions explaining and describing performance and productivity aspects of
their products and services. All are great, with choice discernment. Unfortunately,
with new technology comes the marketing noise. It is crucial for volunteer resource
managers to sift through the noise to find the most appropriate VRMS for their
organization.

This chapter does not present or recommend any software or platform. Its inten-
tion is to guide volunteer resource managers in learning how a VRMS supports com-
petence validation of volunteers during the recruitment stage of their involvement
with an NPO. Nonetheless, the content presented hereafter can be used to guide
volunteer resource managers in purchasing an appropriate system.

Volunteer Resources Performance Management System

With the addition of the concepts and practices of performance and productivity just
mentioned, new domains of knowledge and practices for the professionalism of vol-
unteer management (Connors, 2010) have arrived. Here are refined definitions of the
terms performance and productivity suggested by the author.

Performance refers to the individual—whether staff or volunteer—to improve
performance through educating (training) and non-educating (training)
interventions.

Productivity on the other hand is about the people—the organization as a collec-
tive—to find the return on service, learning, investment and other key output
indicators.

Whereas adult learning principles and education guided volunteer resource
managers’ preparation of volunteers for assignments in the past, more research tools

Volunteer Resources Management System 209

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and techniques are available through performance improvement and human per-
formance technologies. In addition, return on investment metrics and associated
research adds more to measuring key productivity indicators. Therefore, the soft-
ware and Internet-enabled platforms now herald an updated version of the volun-
teer resources management system to include performance improvement tools and
techniques.

When performance is included, it is possible to verify or validate the competence of
volunteers before and during their involvement in the organization. Based on the capa-
bilities the volunteer possesses, volunteer resource managers and managers to whom
volunteers are assigned can confirm, verify, or validate volunteer competence.

Based on competence validation, volunteer resource managers, other managers,
and volunteers can decide what education is needed to fill the gaps and what path
suits the successful movement of volunteers into the organization and/or their contin-
ued involvement in existing or new jobs.

The competence decision structure focuses on verification or validation of
competence:

& Is the person competent? If yes, move on. If no, what education is needed?
& After education, is the person competent? If yes, move on. If no, what education is

needed?

Because recruitment (screening, interviewing, and assigning) is a function in the
updated VRMS, it is possible to use performance-improvement concepts and tech-
niques like competence validation to recruit competent volunteers. A more detailed
presentation of competency, competence, and competence validation follows. Note
that this chapter does not dive deeply into the various subelements of screening, inter-
viewing, and assigning, topics discussed in other chapters in this book. A search of the
Internet will also reveal many useful resources.

Competency and Competence

Competency as a concept and practice has been discussed in all types of organiza-
tions for over 30 years (Velde, 2009). It has received attention in pop culture and aca-
demic documents as well as higher education and workplace discussions of prior
learning assessment review and current learning achievement review.

Competency and competence are often aligned with human resource manage-
ment. By extension, the concepts and practices are now connected with volunteer
resource management. With continuing advances in technology and application im-
provements, the concepts and practices have advanced why and how the compe-
tency-based approach for managing people deserves attention.

World of Competency

Competencies are a way to better inform people of the work within the organization,
no matter where in the world the organization and people reside and no matter
their type or size of the organization (Velde, 2009). Green (1999, p. 5) defines a

210 The Latest Approach to Volunteer Recruitment

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competency as “a written description of measurable work habits and personal [knowl-
edge and] skills used to achieve a work objective.” They are action-based statements
guided by Bloom’s (1954) original “action verb taxonomy” and its revision by Ander-
son et al. (2000).

They become clear and consistent statements of what the organization requires
and requests of the volunteer. Then the organization can state what it will supply in
support of the competencies. In response, volunteers can align their requirements
and requests of the organization to determine the degree of fit. In doing so they can
identify what they will bring to their volunteer experience.

Competence and Competence Validation

Competencies beget competence when people self-assess and are validated against
the outcome inherent to the competency statement action verbs. Competence is a
state of confirmed knowledge and skill recognized by subject matter experts who
themselves are validated competent in how to validate and are validated in the subject
matter expertise they will validate or verify. In other words, people who validate have
also been validated by subject matter experts. For example, if a person validates vol-
unteers in house-to-house canvassing, then that person him- or herself has been vali-
dated in house-to-house canvassing.

People who validate usually have two to four years experience in what they are
validating. This experience, along with their own validation, guides the organization
in its acceptance of the validation outcomes. Such a requirement is particularly impor-
tant when competencies are deemed critical to the job.

If validators are without suitable experience yet educated in the validation pro-
cess, they can involve other volunteers and managers. Working through a triangulated
review, at least two experienced people join the validator during the validation. The
eyes and ears of the attending volunteers will help the validator verify the competence
of the volunteer.

Additional rigor accompanies the validation process. The person who validates
cannot be the person who educates. Therefore, the person who educated the home-
to-home canvasser cannot be the person who validates the person as being compe-
tent. This three-way combination of volunteer, educator, and validator triangulates
the results, thus adding legitimacy and trustworthiness to the whole process and
its results.

Volunteer Resources Competence Validation Performance Management System

The next generation of electronic VRMSs has evolved. They now include the concepts
and practices of performance improvement and competency and competence. These
additions have been initiated by issues of compliance. Government and industry regu-
lations require a proven record of competence, especially when cases of illness, in-
jury, and death occur. The medical field is using competency-competence and
evidence-based assessment on a larger scale, as evident in myriad books
now available.

In addition, the professionalism of volunteer resource managers and fundraising
managers means more stringent ethical protocols are necessary to meet regulations

Competency and Competence 211

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and community expectations. Legal requirements around performance management
require more formal documentation for the professional VRMs themselves, other staff,
and the volunteers who support organizational initiatives.

Before moving on, and to lessen acronym ridiculousness, the updated VRMS will
be referred to simply as VCMS (volunteer competence management system). Compe-
tence validation and performance management or performance assessment are vital
elements within this new system. The term and system inherent to VCMS will replace
the VRMS concept introduced earlier and will be used throughout the rest of
this chapter.

The VCMS is an investment, not overhead. Competent volunteers are key to orga-
nization effectiveness. Through the use of this system, VRMs and managers can take
corrective or preventive action to increase the personal capacity of each volunteer and
collectively the organization’s capacity. The money invested in the VCMS will pay for
itself quickly.

Recruiting Volunteers Using Competencies

People have capabilities and talents already. They bring them to the volunteer experi-
ence. Therefore, it is advantageous for volunteer resource managers to confirm the
knowledge, skill, and attitudes that potential and existing volunteers possess before
assigning them to jobs. The more volunteer resource managers know about their vol-
unteers’ knowledge, skill, and attitude competence, the more these managers can use
additional volunteer management techniques of talent planning, succession mapping,
and education analysis to keep the volunteers up-to-date, motivated and inspired, and
stimulated to stay in a vibrant atmosphere of respect and growth.

A differentiator among NPOs is the quick and efficient pathway they use to
recruit volunteers. As mentioned, challenges abound in awakening people to volun-
teer opportunities and the subsequent recruitment portal and process to enter
the organization.

Competency-Based Recruitment Model

Exhibit 8.1 highlights the three major elements involved in recruiting volunteers
using a self-assessment of competencies and competence validation approach and
provides an overview presentation of the elements working together. These ele-
ments are screening, interviewing, and assigning. These three elements are helpful
to volunteer resource managers as they decide which people to involve as
volunteers.

The first element of recruitment is screening. This element includes:

& Writing a competency-based profile
& Providing access to the self-assessment portal
& Running the screening report to decide who is invited or not for an interview

Exhibit 8.2 highlights the sections of the whole model considered to be
screening.

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ASSIGNING

Job Posting

or

Job Profile

Self-Assessment

against

Application Criteria

Application Review

and Selection

for Interview

Candidates

Selected

for Interview

Candidates

Rejected

for Interview

Competency-Based

Interview

Successful

Candidate

Offered Position

Unsuccessful

Candidates

Notified

Supplemental

Education

Job Assignment

SCREENING INTERVIEWING

EXHIBIT 8.1 Deciding on Competent Volunteers: Screening, Interviewing, and Assigning

Job Posting

or

Job Profile

Self-Assessment

against

Application Criteria

Application Review

and Selection

for Interview

SCREENING

EXHIBIT 8.2 Deciding on Competent Volunteers: Screening, Interviewing, and Assigning

Recruiting Volunteers Using Competencies 213

The Volunteer Management Handbook : Leadership Strategies for Success, edited by Tracy D. Connors, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011.
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Profiling a Volunteer Job

Educational institutions use a DACUM (develop a curriculum) process or variation
to identify learning outcomes and learning objectives around which courses are
developed and delivered. The learning outcomes identify what people will learn
(knowledge, skill, and/or attitude) from the program as a result of their involve-
ment. The learning objectives identify the particular knowledge and skills pre-
sented and in what order, and what actions will be taken in the program to fulfill
the learning outcomes.

Similarly, collecting the required and requested knowledge, skill, and attitude re-
quirements for a volunteer job are turned into competency categories and competen-
cies. The competency categories are like learning outcomes while competencies are
like learning objectives. A collection of competencies form a profile. Competency
statements are written using Bloom’s (1956) three-phase action verb taxonomy (i.e.,
cognitive, affective, and psychomotor).

The competency statement is written with an action verb and enough description
to clearly identify what the person must be competent in when validated. Generally
the statement contains two to nine words. The subsequent descriptive and explana-
tory statements contain five to nine words. For supporting statements considered
straightforward, five words; for statements that require a little more explanation, nine
words. Also, the competency statement is a balance between writing a mechanized-
robotic competency statement versus a statement so generalized it applies to every-
one (unless that is the intention). Every competency must clearly demarcate the
knowledge, skills, and attitude required and requested for the job. Once written and
used, the profile as a whole is the organization’s statement of volunteer’s accountabil-
ities and responsibilities. Exhibit 8.3 presents two examples.

Access Portals

When an NPO advertises for volunteers—including on its Web site (Allen et al.,
2010)—it lists the access portal to enter the VCMS. Upon signing on, the VCMS accepts
volunteers as users. They are taken directly to the self-assessment function and asked
to follow the instructions and/or use the job provided.

Access to Technical and Recruitment Support

The type of user support required focuses on technical use questions and the recruit-
ment process. The technical support of lost passwords and navigating the system can
be offered through the organization or left with the vendor support group. If set up
properly, the entry and navigation by the volunteer is intuitive and requires the least
amount of clicks possible. In fact, limiting the entry of any form of written data during
the self-assessment is preferred. Therefore, a simple click-and-click format is best at
this point of the volunteer’s use of the system.

The recruitment support takes the form of answering generic questions about
what volunteers need to do, where to, go and what happens as they move forward
using the VCMS. A frequently asked questions Web site segment can accompany the
job profile advertisement on the organization Web site. However, a percentage of

214 The Latest Approach to Volunteer Recruitment

The Volunteer Management Handbook : Leadership Strategies for Success, edited by Tracy D. Connors, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011.
ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ashford-ebooks/detail.action?docID=697552.
Created from ashford-ebooks on 2022-04-21 10:08:19.

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Recruiting And Training Volunteers & Building An Effective Volunteer Training Program

PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT A BID IF YOU DO NOT HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH GRADUATE-LEVEL WRITING. MUST FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS MUST BE FOLLOWED, AND NO PLAGIARISM. USE THE SOURCES INCLUDED. AND ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS TO DISCUSSION OR ASSIGNMENT.