Tasking and Training Volunteers
In order for a volunteer placement to be successful, volunteers must have a clear sense of what their assigned tasks are each time they come.
They must also receive adequate instruction on how to perform these tasks to the agency's standards. While orientation answers the questions: who? where? when? and what?, training answers the questions: how? and why? Training is a form of teaching.
- Ask students about any special skills or talents they have. If possible, match them with tasks that capitalize on these skills.
- Be sure students know what they're expected to do, especially if the tasks change from day to day.
- Explain why certain tasks are important to the agency and its clients.
- Task for learning. This means describing tasks in a way that emphasizes their learning value. Examples>>
- Give volunteers meaningful tasks. While the best volunteers are willing to chip in wherever needed, constantly being assigned to menial busywork is one of the most common sources of negative feedback from volunteers.
- When asked what volunteer tasks they enjoy most, students list the following:
- Interacting with people
- Developing relationships
- Working with groups/teams
- Using existing skills for a good cause and learning new skills
- Getting real-world experience
- Make the volunteer's first shift a "shadowing" shift. The goal is to observe an experienced volunteer or staff member doing tasks similar to the ones the volunteer will be expected to do. This is training by example.
- Understand that training is ongoing.