LMS, Mobile Learning, training, Nonprofit, volunteer, volunteer training

4 Ways Nonprofits Can Effectively Train Volunteers

by Debbie Williams

The pandemic has had a profound impact on nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofits have scrambled to raise funds virtually and are suffering financially. This is especially true for nonprofits that held mostly in-person fundraising events prior to the pandemic.

4 Ways Nonprofits Can Effectively Train Volunteers

“COVID-19 has left nonprofits in a lurch, having to answer greater needs with fewer resources,” stated the blog article The Impact of COVID-19 on Nonprofits and the Outlook for 2021.1 “35% of nonprofits experienced an increase in demand for services…75% report that COVID-19 has negatively impacted revenues and funding.” 

The article also said that 37% of nonprofits have reduced their staff base due to the pandemic and that the most common approach to downsizing has been furloughs.  

The pandemic has been hard on nonprofits. Leveraging volunteers is a great way for nonprofits to get back on their feet. 

The Importance of Volunteers for Nonprofits 

The importance of volunteers for nonprofits cannot be overemphasized. Most nonprofits cannot get by without volunteers. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, “Many charitable nonprofits have no paid staff and are run entirely by volunteers.”2 The source said a lot of nonprofits would be unable to conduct programs, serve clients, or fundraise without volunteers. The National Council of Nonprofits stated, 

“Volunteers are a tremendous resource for charitable nonprofits…volunteer opportunities are shifting with the times. Did you know that it's possible to volunteer virtually? Or that websites exist just to help match the right volunteers with service projects and even skilled-volunteer opportunities? If you are searching for a volunteer opportunity, or would like to grow your nonprofit's opportunities to be most attractive for volunteers - and find the right ones - state associations of nonprofits as well as state service commissions are great places to start.”

The Stanford Social Innovation Review explained that nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers, but that the majority of CEOs don’t manage them well.3 As a result of this, at least one-third of all who volunteer in one year’s time do not end up donating their time to their current nonprofit or another nonprofit the following year. “That adds up to an estimated $38 billion in lost labor,” the source stated. “To remedy this situation, nonprofit leaders must develop a more strategic approach to managing this overlooked and undervalued talent pool. The good news is that new waves of retiring baby boomers and energetic young people are ready to fill the gap.”

Making nonprofit training a priority can be part of a strategic approach to managing volunteers and promoting volunteer retention. 

4 Ways Nonprofits Can Train Volunteers This Year 

Volunteer training is essential to volunteers’ and nonprofits’ success. “Training helps new volunteers get to know the people, the program, and the job quickly and efficiently,” explained Community Tool Box.4 “Training your volunteers establishes that there is a minimum competency that all volunteers are expected to obtain. Many volunteers see training as a benefit of being part of an organization.”

Ready to train your volunteers to make an impact this year? Here are few essential training tips:

1) Ensure training has personal value to volunteers - It’s easier for people to engage in training that has personal value to them. To train volunteers better, ensure training adds value to their lives. For example, make sure that at least one required training module for volunteers can be mentioned on a resume. 

Your volunteers may not know that it is appropriate to mention professional training on their resume. An article by The Muse5 reported that Anne Lewis, the Director of Sales and Recruitment for Betts Recruiting, said, 

“If you’ve taken courses that have taught you something that will help you on the job, by all means, include them on your resume…. Just keep the list of courses short, and confine them to a single, small area, such as a ‘Professional Training’ section under your work history.”

Make it a point to explain to volunteers how to include personal training they’ve received from your nonprofit in their resume. 

2) Make volunteer training remote - As volunteer opportunities open up online, it makes sense that nonprofits would offer online training for volunteers. Also, it’s probable that in-person training would turn many volunteers away with the threat of the virus constantly looming. Make training available online to remedy this issue.  

The best way to make nonprofit training available online is to launch a nonprofit learning management system (LMS). You can use an LMS to train volunteers, members, employees, stakeholders, and more.

TOPYX nonprofit LMS recognizes that training is challenging for large nonprofit organizations with local chapters disseminated nationally or internationally. An LMS for nonprofits must address the needs of volunteers, board members, employees, and leadership. What’s more, it must be easily accessible anywhere chapters or members are located.

TOPYX nonprofit LMS provides a customizable LMS platform with unlimited users so that you can provide tailored training in a cost-effective way. Create different tracks for each group to enable niche nonprofit board training, leadership training, fundraising training, and more. Request a free LMS demo of TOPYX to learn more. 

3) Advertise the benefits of volunteering during training - Volunteering doesn’t just benefit nonprofits. It also benefits volunteers themselves. “Volunteering provides purpose and affinity connections for individuals, that is needed now more than ever—for both our volunteers and our staff,” explained a contributor to Georgetown University.6 “In fact, research has found that participation in voluntary services is significantly predictive of better mental and physical health, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and happiness.”

When seeking volunteers, advertise these benefits. Also, mention these benefits in a volunteer training course. This might encourage volunteer retention. You could also offer a free training course for prospective volunteers that explains your nonprofit’s mission and vision, what volunteering entails, and the benefits of volunteering. 

Just about everyone is seeking ways to boost their health on a variety of levels. Letting people know about the health benefits of volunteering via training may prove to be effective at getting volunteers engaged in training and committed to volunteering year after year. 

4) Make volunteer training mobile-friendly - Mobile training has never been more relevant than it is today. Most people own at least one mobile device, and it tends to be easier to interact with training on these devices than on a computer.  

The article 10 Stats That Prove Mobile Learning Lives up to The Hype7 listed some impressive mobile learning statistics:

  1. 27% of users are mobile-only. 

  2. Over 70% of Millennials claim to connect more with mobile learning than learning that takes place on a desktop or through formal methods. 

  3. Most people spend nearly 3 hours on their smartphone each day. 

  4. Approximately 65% of all digital media is viewed on a smartphone.

  5. Those who participate in mobile learning complete course material 45% faster than those who learn on a computer. 

Some benefits of mobile learning include greater accessibility for all users, a lower cost of training for companies, and increased productivity. 

The best way to implement mobile learning for volunteers is to launch an LMS with mobile learning functionality. An LMS that features mobile learning makes training simple for volunteers and administrators. With TOPYX LMS mobile learning features, employees can access content on demand, regardless of location or time zone. All a volunteer needs for a great learning experience is an internet connection and a mobile device. TOPYX LMS:

  • Is compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android, and other smartphones and tablets.
  • Charges no added costs for mobile learning. 
  • Is committed to protecting a nonprofit’s information (data is stored on secure servers). 
  • Features servers that deliver reliable uptime with significant bandwidth.
  • Supports all mobile devices. 

Find out more about the TOPYX LMS mobile learning feature for nonprofit organizations. 

The Right LMS Makes Volunteer Training Easy 

Volunteer training shouldn’t be a burden to nonprofits or volunteers. The TOPYX LMS Quick Start Program has everything you need to get started with a learning and development program for up to 500 learners available through a unique flat-rate pricing model. With in-depth learning features and pre-built content to support remote volunteers and develop skills, TOPYX Quick Start is perfect for nonprofits that want to quickly and easily train their volunteers. 

Resources: 

  1. Wealth Engine. https://www.wealthengine.com/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-nonprofits-for-2021/
  2. The National Council of Nonprofits. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/volunteers
  3. Stanford Social Innovation Review. ​​https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_new_volunteer_workforce
  4. Community Tool Box. https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/structure/volunteers/training-programs/main#:~:text=Training%20helps%20new%20volunteers%20get,being%20part%20of%20an%20organization
  5. The Muse. https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-list-online-courses-on-your-resume-the-right-way-because-yes-there-is-a-wrong-way
  6. Georgetown University. https://cpnl.georgetown.edu/news-story/how-to-connect-and-engage-with-your-volunteers-remotely/.  
  7. Docebo. https://www.docebo.com/learning-network/blog/10-stats-mobile-learning/
Debbie Williams

Debbie Williams

Director, Marketing