Category: Volunteer training

Being clear about what your learning objectives are

Other Jayne gives you a great steer as ever. I think being clear about what your learning objectives are at the start is a really important starting point.

In a previous job, I worked in VSO’s training team and introduced online learning as part of their pre-departure training for volunteers going overseas to work in developing countries. For us, peer learning and support was really key in the face to face training and we wanted to maintain this. Also we were aware that things aren’t always black and white in terms of the content and there weren’t always going to be right or wrong answers – it was discussion that was important and about exploring peoples’ attitudes. Maybe not to dissimilar to some of the things you might be looking at in developing training for befriends.

We plumped for using e-moderated message boards through VSO’s online volunteer area. This is based on Gilly Salmon’s 5 stage e-moderated methodology – you can Google her. We used Moodle, which is a free platform, although a bit clunky. It’s used pretty widely in schools these days. Volunteers do e-learning courses either side of two face to face training courses, with the face-to-face and online courses interlinking with one another.

I have to admit to not being completely sold on the whole online way of learning prior to taking on the project – probably prejudiced by my own learning styles! But it’s been really successful and gets good feedback from volunteers. I’ve moderated courses with participants dotted all over the UK, in France, Morocco, India, the States all at the same time – makes for some really interesting debate!

Happy to have a chat with you on the phone some time if you want – mail me directly to arrange a time.

I work for CHAS in Edinburgh, and am just about to trial online training for our volunteers, who are Scotland-wide. We already have a system in place for our staff, so we want to see how well it works for volunteers. This is to cover statutory / mandatory training (and some of it will need to be blended with face-to-face sessions).

As you’re also in Edinburgh, do you want to contact me direct for a chat?

We are also considering online training / E-learning for volunteers at The Blue Cross. I have a similar question I’d like to ask as we’re at a slightly earlier stage in the process! How do people decide which training / learning opportunities are suitable to be delivered online? Do you use any criteria to assess existing learning opportunities to decide whether they could/should be delivered in another, online format? All thoughts welcome!

At present the training is anticipated to be for telephone

Thank you for you reply at present the training is anticipated to be for telephone befrienders for isolated elders and has a very national span.

The thinking is to look at compiling perhaps a variety of ways to do this so sorry to be vague. It is a new concept for me and i would welcome ways of learning, platforms any examples of use etc from others .Challenges things to consider .

It would require helping volunteers to look at communication styles , bust steroetypes cover boundaries, reporting, support and of course check the volunteer has the skills and acquired through the the learning and induction process .

is that any use just need to get ideas from A to Z

I’ve not come across many examples of online training for volunteer managers that are specific to the UK, certainly not any that go wider than just one topic.

I think part of the problem is that many people still seem to be quite wary about engaging in online training. I know from experience of setting up this group how long it took for people to be comfortable engaging with others and asking questions online and I think that evolution in training provision is still ongoing. I certainly see and hear of scepticism when online training solutions are offered, even when these are much cheaper than face-to-face training.

Perhaps other countries like the USA and Australia don’t have the same anxieties, in part because of the distances involved in travelling to face-to-face training?

All that said I do think there is potential here and I think that if people can overcome their anxieties around the medium and the tools for delivering and engaging in online training there could be more available.

I am delivering a webinar with VC Warrington this afternoon that will be my first experience of delivering online to a live audience. I have also done a course for KnowHow NonProfit on developing volunteer roles which is available online at

If you’d be interested in talking about delivering training for you online then I’d be happy to speak with you.


We have a volunteer training programme


We have a volunteer training programme we use locally. I asked the local organizations what skills they required from a volunteer joining them, and subsequently designed a course to fit those local needs. We cover things like Diversity and Equality and what that actually means in the context of the organizations they might be volunteering in.

Communication skills – with some emphasis on certain client groups and how communication has to change. Risk and safety, supervision and support. There are other modules, but our course is quite a bit longer than I think you’re looking at. Best advice I can give is to approach your local organizations and ask them what kind of knowledge THEY want the volunteers to already have.

Then equip the volunteers with information about their rights and responsibilities as a volunteer, what to expect and who to speak to if they have any problems. If you can get the volunteers to bond as a group, you may be more likely to retain those volunteers and keep them in touch with you.


Volunteer Induction/Training

Hello everyone,

This is my first post so apologies if this has come up before. I’m currently working as a Volunteering Facilitator for the University of Cumbria Students’ Union and part of my role is to work with students to find out their interests and give them options for the types of volunteering they can do and the organisations they can get involved with, along with coordinating one off volunteering projects. At the moment when students register as a volunteer we send them an email with all the info they need to know about volunteering which is very lengthy and I’m sure no one really reads it.

I’d like to introduce some proper training so that we can retain volunteers and support them before they go to volunteer with different organisations around the area. Does anyone have any good advice on what sort of things would be good to cover in the first session with potential volunteers. I’d like to make it really informal and quite short but what are the key things people need to know? I’d like to make the sessions really interactive and any tips and examples people have would be very much appreciated.


I’d strongly recommend talking to your local volunteer centre about this, and looking at the Volunteering England website.

I have developed a lot of induction materials and training for different volunteer roles, but they are all very specific to each organisation and role – frankly any organisation taking volunteers should be responsible for a good induction for them there, rather than beforehand – but suspect that is sometimes more a wish than reality!

One doc I have developed that might be of interest is a one-page “tips for getting the most out of your volunteering placement” – I have 2 versions, one for those long-term or never previously employed, and another more general one for those looking to add to professional skills and to improve their CV’s through volunteering – can e-mail it directly to you if useful? Would always recommend adapting it for your specific client group (students) though.