Planning A Training Course For The Volunteers

Jennifer Merrill

For the association to turn, it is essential to train the volunteers who join the association, but also those of long time.

The same is true of volunteers: 80% of them feel that training is necessary to continue to develop their skills. 

In this article, we suggest that you imagine a training course for your volunteers based the following questions: 

  1. Why train volunteers?
  2. How do I train them?

Here we go!

Why create a training course for the volunteers?

Training interests for your volunteers

The main objective of a training is to acquire new skills, which are then put to the benefit of the association. 

A better understanding of how your organization works will facilitate the integration and ease of new volunteers, who are still unaccustomed to the associative world.  

As for those who have been present for some time, offering them enriching training promotes their development by continuing to acquire new skills. Training them is a great way to retain them and strengthen their sense of belonging. 

Finally, the rise in skills as a result of their training may encourage some volunteers to take on initiatives and responsibilities to leadership positions.

Volunteer training needs

All of the benefits shared above are effective only if the training is relevant. It will be if the training is for the right people. So take the time to determine if you want to train all of your volunteers, only leaders or only those involved in specific topics (e.g. digital communication). 

Then determine the needs and requests of these volunteers about the training they want.

Training for all volunteers in your association

We have identified two training axes for all the volunteers in your association: 

  • Understanding and appropriating the associative mission,
  • Acquire the know-how necessary to achieve its objectives.

At the reception of the new volunteers, an intervention by the founding members of the association presenting the history, mission and values of the association will “booster” the motivation of the volunteers and their involvement.

A simple explanation of how the structure works in general will certainly put them at ease. Obviously, these tips are to be put in front of the specific situation (and the size of your association). To make the organization more convenient, these exchanges can quite take place online, through a video conference.

The second type of training is less “theoretical” and relates more to the activities and skills to be mastered. Indeed, 20% of association leaders1 believe that the know-how of their volunteers is inadequate. 

Depending on the need, the content can be very different: such as training on listening, monitoring and knowledge of the beneficiaries of the association (people with disabilities, homeless people, job seekers, etc.) for example.

Training for volunteer leaders of your association

The know-how of the association leaders must therefore be developed regularly. 

Every leader must be comfortable with his or her responsibilities to do it properly. Providing new managers with a “community culture” base on topics such as board organization, accounting management, fund-raising, digital tools, etc. is particularly relevant and useful.

These non-specific trainings enable you to acquire digital, accounting, communication, etc. skills. These teachings must not be neglected or taken for granted. 

Regardless of digital, other skills need to be renewed. For example, a treasurer will have to get up to speed on the association’s new accounting plan.

The certificate of training in association management is in particular a diploma that aims to give volunteers the knowledge necessary for the good administrative, financial and human management of an association. 

It includes a theoretical training of at least 30 hours and practical training in an association. To find out which organizations are authorized by the state to provide the training, you need to check with your regional youth, sports and social cohesion directorate.

Finally, who says leaders, says governance and management. 

It is important that leaders know how to lead their boat so that the association develops and continues its activities in the best way possible. 

An association is a large structure where you have to manage volunteers or even employees, a budget, etc. These trainings will help to professionalize leaders. 

As you will have understood, good conducting is not improvised. It is therefore necessary to train! 

How Do You Train Your Association’s Volunteers?

Organize in-house training for your volunteers

Before soliciting external actors, why not use your association as the primary source of training?

To share with volunteers concrete expertise, you can organize in-house internships where the speakers are your own volunteers. Take care to choose those who have been present for quite some time, and who have concrete expertise. 

Different problems can demotivate you to create training from scratch since it can be time-consuming, artisanal or even low quality. It’s up to you to make sure you find the right themes and make sure the quality level is adequate! 

Soliciting public structures

On some topics, internal resources may not allow you to offer comprehensive training to your volunteers. Referring to public structures, which offer often free training, is another relevant option. 

For fairly basic associative needs, you can get closer to local structures such as the houses of associative and civic life (MVAC). 

These places of advice and training are intended for small and medium-sized associations, to enlighten them in multiple aspects of the life of their structure such as the creation, development of activities and management difficulties encountered. 

MVAC provides resources and resources (information, documentation, project support, etc.) that can allow you to either be assisted in your training or to train directly within these structures. 

Relying on associative networks 

If you are affiliated with a federation or an association network, these actors can also support you in training. They generally offer training on a regular basis so that affiliated associations can continue to improve, adapt to new challenges, etc. 

You can also choose to create a joint training with other associations or network. This can lead to enriching exchanges that allow everyone to learn more about other ways of doing things.

Using companies

The last option is to turn to training professionals. It is their job to offer you paid training of professional quality. They are generally very specialized on specific topics. Ask them for a quote (and most importantly, take feedback from other associations that have used their services).

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