Volunteers play a crucial role in helping non profit organizations run and making a positive impact on communities and the causes they believe in. According to Nonprofits Source, On average, people spend an average of 52 hours per year volunteering their time.
To ensure the success, effectiveness, and quality of a volunteer, training will be essential. In the digital age, online training has emerged as a convenient and effective option for volunteer training. In this article, we will explore how to facilitate online training for volunteers, how to plan and produce training materials, and how to track volunteers' progress to ensure they complete required volunteer training.
The Benefits of Online Training for Volunteers
Online training offers numerous advantages for volunteers and organizations alike. Here are some key benefits:
- Scheduling Flexibility: Volunteers have diverse schedules, making it difficult to gather them all in one physical location. Online training allows volunteers to access materials at their convenience, accommodating busy lifestyles.
- Cost-Effective: Organizing physical training sessions can be expensive, considering venue rentals, materials, and travel expenses. Online training reduces these costs significantly.
- Scalability: Whether you have a handful of volunteers or a large global network, online training can scale easily to accommodate any number of participants.
- Consistency: Online training ensures that all volunteers receive the same information and instruction, maintaining a consistent standard of knowledge and performance.
- Repeatability: Online training for volunteers allows you to reuse the training again and again. Volunteers can re-watch the content to better understand what they need to know and you can reuse the training materials each year if desired.
Facilitating Online Training
- Choose the Right Platform: Selecting a user-friendly and reliable online training platform is paramount. Look for features such as multimedia support, progress tracking, and interactive elements such as quizzes to keep volunteers engaged.
- Develop Engaging Content: Create dynamic and interactive training materials. Incorporate videos, quizzes, and optional reading material to enhance the learning experience and maintain volunteers' interest.
- Think About Delivery: Consider how will you send out the training materials. Do you already have a communication channel established with this group of volunteers?
- Offer Real-Life Scenarios: Use real-life scenarios to help volunteers understand how to apply their training in practical situations. This will improve their ability to handle real-world challenges effectively.
Planning and Producing Training Materials
- Assess Training Needs: Before creating training materials, conduct a needs assessment to identify what specific skills and knowledge volunteers require. This will ensure that the training is relevant and effective.
- Collaborate with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): Involve SMEs, experienced volunteers, or staff members in designing the training materials. Their insights and expertise will enrich the content and provide valuable perspectives.
- Chunk Information: Break down the training content into smaller, manageable chunks. With video content this often means keeping the video length under 10 minutes. This approach makes the material easier to digest and helps volunteers retain information better.
- Establish Learning Objectives: Clearly define learning objectives for each module or section of the training. Learning objectives set clear expectations for volunteers and guide them through their training journey.
Tracking Volunteer Training Progress
- Online Learning Management System (LMS): Implement an LMS like this one to track volunteers' progress. An employee training LMS allows you to monitor course completion, quiz scores, and the completion status of each module.
- Say Thank You: Make sure to acknowledge your volunteers and thank them upon completing specific training milestones. Recognition boosts motivation and appreciates their dedication.
- Regular Communication: Keep the lines of communication open with volunteers. Send reminders, progress updates, and motivational messages to keep them engaged and on track.
- Feedback and Evaluation: Collect feedback from volunteers regarding their training experience. Use this input to improve the training program continuously.
Groundwork1 is an email based learning management system that allows you to assemble newsletter-like training content that can include videos, links, quizzes, and checklists. Volunteer's progress is tracked as they watch and learn from the content, allowing training managers to access progress reports for volunteers on both a global and individual level.
Embracing online training for volunteers not only provides flexibility and cost-effectiveness but also empowers volunteers with the necessary skills and knowledge to make a lasting impact. By carefully planning and producing engaging training materials and tracking volunteers' progress, organizations can ensure that their volunteers are well-prepared to tackle challenges and contribute meaningfully to their causes. Remember, a well-trained volunteer is an invaluable asset that can represent your organization, transform their community, and inspire positive change.