Orientation is your opportunity to introduce volunteers to your organization as a whole and outline its mission and broader goals. All volunteers, regardless of their specific assignment, should receive the same orientation. This places volunteer work in context and allows for consistent communication of policies and procedures. A well-oriented volunteer will also be a better spokesperson for your organization in the community.
There are many different ways to orient your volunteers. You might consider hosting an event or workshop, or creating multimedia material such as videos or a PowerPoint presentation. Take a look at these examples of orientation materials:
- A video orientation from Junior Achievement
- A PowerPoint orientation from the Monadnock Community Market. Notice their use of the program Slide Share, a free and easy tool to use to put your organization's material online
- Volunteer orientation slides from the Puget Sound Labor Agency
- Storyboard for a basic volunteer orientation video from VIP 2010 participant, Greenwood Food Bank
In her article posted on World Volunteer Web, The Role of Orientation in Volunteer Programmes, author Mary V. Merrill gives a clear overview on how to organize your orientation program. Creating a detailed volunteer handbook for all new volunteers is an essential step to orient and inform volunteers about your organization's culture, policies and expectations. We’ve provided a few examples of great volunteer handbooks; use them to develop your organization’s volunteer handbook.
- Volunteer Handbook from the Rainier Valley Food Bank
- Volunteer Handbook from the Hearing Speech and Deafness Center
- Orientation Handbook from the Puget Sound Labor Agency
- Here’s a detailed template for creating your very own volunteer orientation manual: Volunteer Orientation Manual-Template, provided by the Volunteer Center of Camrose and District, February 2008
Orientation provides a broad general overview. Training, on the other hand, is task-specific and should be tailored to the requirements of each position. Volunteers will require initial start-up training and ongoing, in-service trainings. Developing a set of clear training materials, such as manuals, slide shows, or workshops, will not only get your volunteers off to a great start, but also help to maintain high-quality service.
If you are providing the training in person, this excerpt from Betty Stallings' book, Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers: The 55-Minute Training Series provides advice on how to run a volunteer training session. Another except from Betty offers specific advice on how to train event volunteers; it comes from her book How to Produce Fabulous Fundraising Events.
Check out this extensive list of training resources, strategies and best practices on the National Service Resources website. Here are some examples of orientation and training materials:
- SMP volunteer training prepares volunteers to help prevent medical fraud
- City Vision University offers several great examples of manual and webcast trainings
Other great resources include:
- HandsOn Greater Portland online resources for nonprofit organizations, including volunteer management resources and training; volunteer recruitment; and, additional resources as powered by HandsOn Connect and United Way of the Columbia-Willamette