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Learning Pathways

Join Jennifer Bennett, CVA, VolunteerMatch’s Director of Education & Training, for an exciting new pilot program! The Learning Pathways include four educational mini-series that delve into essential tenets of volunteer management. They are designed to foster discussion, spark ideas, and provide attendees with an action plan for evaluating and innovating volunteer strategies. 

Note: The parts of each Pathway should be taken in order as the sessions build upon each other. Recordings will be available as the series progresses.


Pathway 1: Recruiting (2-part series)

Recruiting volunteers lays the groundwork for everything that comes next. Make sure you’re setting yourself and your volunteers up for success by creating a strong recruitment plan and ensuring that you’re targeting the right volunteers!


Pathway 1 Resource Packet: Recording, Slides & More


Part 1: Before You Start
August 8th (passed)
What do you need to think about and create before you start recruiting volunteers? This session will cover the pre-work needed to successfully recruit the right volunteers. We’ll start with position descriptions, and volunteer personas and build a targeted recruitment plan to reach the volunteers you want. This is an online workshop designed with time to discuss and share challenges and successes. Attendees are encouraged to come with an open volunteer role in mind, and an existing position description, if available.

Part 2: Recruiting for a Role
September 12th (passed)
This session will cover the steps needed after a prospective volunteer expresses interest but before they officially become a volunteer. We’ll discuss gathering information, reviewing and evaluating that information, and determining whether a volunteer is the right match for the role. We’ll also discuss risk management strategies, and how to use training and orientation strategies to ensure that volunteers are well prepared for the work they’ll be asked to do. Attendees are encouraged to have on hand any documents currently being used for review. This is Part 2 of the Recruiting Pathway. Please plan to attend or watch Part 1 before attending.


Pathway 2: Building Volunteer Relationships (3-part series) 

Creating a strong relationship with your volunteers is the best way to engage volunteers in work that matters to them, create that connection to your mission, and ensure that your volunteers aren’t just great volunteers, but are advocates for your organization!


Pathway 2 Resource Packet: Recording, Slides & More


Part 1: Creating the Relationship Foundation
July 25th (passed)
Building relationships with volunteers – just like with friends or partners – takes work, it doesn’t just happen. In this session we’ll discuss the importance of thinking of volunteers as stakeholders, determining ways to invite them into your organization, and building a strong two-way relationship with volunteers.

Part 2: Growing the Relationship
August 22nd (passed)
In this session we’ll build on the Foundations created in Part 1 and explore opportunities to strengthen relationships with volunteers, including developing feedback channels for better two-way communications. We’ll explore the languages of appreciation and how we can create a multi-faceted approach that includes opportunities for volunteers to step into leadership roles or continue to build skills. Attendees will have the opportunity to evaluate their own management style and where they may benefit from building their own skills. This is Part 2 of the Building Volunteer Relationships Pathway. Please plan to attend or watch Part 1 before attending.

Part 3: When Things Don’t Go as Planned
September 26th (90 min)
Unclear expectations, miscommunications, and interpersonal conflicts happen. What do we need to know and do when these situations arise when working with volunteers? Attendees will have the opportunity to explore how to create a culture of volunteer engagement and build collaboration on a foundation of policies that help volunteers, paid staff, and clients work together. We’ll also discuss what to do when all of this doesn’t work and we need to have coaching conversations, reassign a volunteer, or ask a volunteer to leave. This is Part 3 of the Building Volunteer Relationships Pathway. Please plan to attend or watch Parts 1 and 2 before attending.


Pathway 3: Impact Storytelling (3-part series)

The story we tell can make all the difference! What story are you telling to our volunteers about the work they’re doing and your mission? To your organization about the value and impact of volunteers? And, to your supporters and the community about how volunteers make a difference and how they should fund that work or volunteer themselves?


Pathway 3 Resource Packet: Recording, Slides & More


Part 1: For Volunteers
July 27th (passed)
What information are you gathering from your volunteers – about their work, their impact, and their satisfaction? In this session attendees will explore the opportunity to create a compelling story to share with volunteers both as a recruitment message and as a story of recognition and appreciation. Attendees are encouraged to review their current data collection activities and their current story before attending so they’re ready to evaluate and experiment with the story they’re building and how they’re telling it.

Part 2: For Your Organization
August 24th (passed)
What does your organization think or “know” about the work of volunteers? In this session we’ll look at how we can tell a story of volunteer engagement internally that elevates and celebrates the work of volunteers while also building buy-in and trust in the process. We’ll discuss identifying attitudes and barriers within our organizations, and what information may be persuasive and help change those attitudes. We’ll also discuss how leaders of volunteers may be able to work cross-functionally within their organization and partner with others to ensure that this story informs the work of communication and market, fundraising, and executive leadership. This is Part 2 of the Impact Storytelling Pathway. Please plan to attend or watch Part 1 before attending.

Part 3: For Supporters and the Community
September 28th (60 min)
When we tell the story of volunteer engagement and impact outside of our organization amazing things happen! We can educate our community about the services and programs we provide, we can reach prospective volunteers, donors, and advocates. And, we can raise the profile of our organization in the community, possibly leading to more funding from foundations and corporations. This is Part 3 of the Impact Storytelling Pathway. Please plan to attend or watch Parts 1 and 2 before attending.


Pathway 4: Leading and Advocating (2-part series)

Pathway 3 Resource Packet: Recording, Slides & More

As leaders of volunteers it can often feel like we’re running as fast as we can just to stay in the same place. We’re doing all the volunteer engagement, but we don’t have the bandwidth to actually think about leading or creating a strategy. Let’s change this by engaging others – paid staff and volunteers – and re-envision our role as one of strategic architect and advocate for volunteers and the work of leaders of volunteers.

Part 1:  Leading Not Doing
August 10th (passed)
So many leaders of volunteers wear multiple hats, or are departments of one. It can feel like there’s not enough time to just do all the day-to-day work let alone to think strategically and plan for future volunteer engagement. In this session we’ll discuss how to make the transition from the coordination of volunteer work to the leader and planner of the work and impact of volunteers. Attendees are encouraged to review their own position description and think about their responsibilities and decision making authority before attending so they can discuss and brainstorm opportunities to bring others into the day-to-day work and where they can engage champions within their organization. 

Part 2: Advocating for Volunteers and the Profession
September 14th (passed)
The formalized profession of leading volunteers is relatively young. We don’t yet have many college or university level courses of study. Most of us learn on the job and for many leaders of volunteers this work is just a step on the career path as they move on to other nonprofit work or work in a different sector. Whether you’re brand new to the work or if this is the career you’ve been doing for years we’ll come together to discuss our role as an advocate for the volunteers in our organization, volunteerism in general, and for the work of leaders of volunteers. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about professional development opportunities, the CVA credential, and how they can move into the role of thought leader within their organization, their local or regional network, or even nationally or internationally! This is Part 2 of the Leading and Advocating Pathway. Please plan to attend or watch Part 1 before attending.



Webinar Resource Library

Explore the slides and resources from our webinars. Delve into the three modules designed to meet you where you are: Introductory Approaches, Core Components, and Advanced Practices.


Introductory Approaches

Best Practices for Recruiting OnlineSlides
Designing Virtual Volunteer OpportunitiesSlides
Engaging Pro Bono and Skills-Based Volunteers | Slides | Worksheet
Engaging the Volunteer of the FutureSlides
Re-Energize Engagement with Mission-Driven OpportunitiesSlides | Worksheet
Social Media and Volunteer Engagement Slides
Successfully Implementing Volunteer Program Changes
The New Volunteer Manager's Toolkit | Slides | The Toolkit

Core Components

Creating a Comprehensive and Engaging Volunteer Training ProgramSlide
Creative and Innovative Volunteer Recognition StrategiesSlides
Playing by the Rules: Creating an Effective Volunteer HandbookSlides | Sample Handbook
Rethinking Retention: Understanding Strategic Volunteer Relationships | Slides
Successful Volunteer Interview Strategies Slides | Sample Questions

Advanced Practices

Build Staff Buy-In for Volunteer Engagement | Slides
Creating a Culture of Volunteer Engagement | Slides
Developing a Strategic Plan for Volunteer Engagement | Slides
Managing Difficult Volunteer Transitions Slides
Telling the Story of Volunteer ImpactSlides | Worksheet 
Understanding Soft Risk in Volunteer Engagement | Slides | Worksheet

More for Volunteer Managers


Learning Center FAQ Page
All your questions about Learning Center webinars, answered.
How We Connect: Hopeful and Helpful Data From Today's Volunteers
Check out our latest survey data from our volunteer community— understanding their experiences, preferences, and aspirations for the future.
The VolunteerMatch Help Desk
Everything you need to know about using VolunteerMatch to recruit volunteers.
Join our LinkedIn Page for Leaders of Volunteers
A community for nonprofit professional working with volunteers. Sharing insight, experiences, and resources.
Listen to The Time + Talent Podcast 
Whether you’re looking for solutions, inspiration, or want to hear what others are doing to successfully engage volunteers, Time + Talent is the podcast for leaders of volunteers.
Read Volunteer Administration: Professional Practice, 4th Edition

This is the only book that addresses the full body of knowledge required by professional administration and management of volunteers.