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 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 from Greenwood Food Bank
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 as well as a couple of templates you can use to develop your organization’s volunteer handbook.
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 training. 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.
For additional food for thought regarding volunteer trainings, take a look at the following resources:
- AHIMA Body of Knowledge's overview on Developing Effective Trainings
- VolunteerHub's blog 4 Easy to Implement Volunteer Training Tips or 7 Elements to a Successful Volunteer Training Program
- For examples of well done volunteer trainings, peruse the Corporation for National and Community Service's extensive repository.