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The Best Volunteer Management Training Courses and Resources

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 12.3 million jobs in the nonprofit sector! Nonprofits and their volunteers help meet some of our communities’ most essential needs. And it’s nonprofit professionals, like volunteer managers, who play a critical role in mobilizing our community’s change makers.

Volunteer management is a rewarding career with plenty of opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment. Whether you’re looking for a new career or you’re a seasoned volunteer leader, volunteer management training offers an invaluable opportunity to develop professionally. 

This article outlines everything you need to know about volunteer management training, including our list of the top volunteer management training programs and certification courses.

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Volunteer Management Training: The Basics

You’ve got questions: What does a career in volunteer management entail? Do I need a volunteer management certification? What can I expect from volunteer management training? 

We’ve got the answers you need (plus more volunteer management training FAQs) to approach your volunteer management training with confidence. 

What is Volunteer Management?

Volunteer management is the process of: 

  1. Recruiting volunteers
  2. Training volunteers 
  3. Coordinating volunteers
  4. Engaging volunteers
  5. Retaining volunteers

A volunteer management strategy can also include volunteer impact tracking and reporting, which provides better insight into the performance of the volunteer program and its activities. 

Any organization with a volunteer program can benefit from implementing a volunteer management strategy. When volunteers are managed effectively, organizations more readily bolster meaningful supporter relationships and, in turn, build an organization’s capacity.

What is the role of the volunteer manager? 

Volunteer managers wear many hats. In addition to carrying out the volunteer management responsibilities listed above, volunteer program leaders are typically charged with additional tasks like promoting and marketing the volunteer program and maintaining relationships with community partners. With the right tools and training, this dynamic job can become a rewarding career. 

A quick note: In your search, you’ll likely come across these job titles, each responsible for managing the volunteer program:

  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Volunteer Program Leader
  • Community Outreach Manager
  • Volunteer Engagement Director

What skills and experience should a volunteer manager have? 

Great volunteer managers possess a diverse set of skills. A large portion of the role relies on relationship building, so volunteer managers should feel comfortable interacting with people regularly and asking for help! Volunteer managers should also have:

  • Strong time-management and organizational skills
  • Keen communication and interpersonal skills
  • Leadership experience
  • Volunteering experience!

Another requirement of the job? Passion! Volunteer managers are passionate about helping others and bettering their communities. It’s what inspires volunteers to engage with the cause continuously. 

 Download the free Volunteer Program ROI Guide!

Do you need a degree to become a volunteer manager? 

Some volunteer management positions won’t require a four-year college degree, while others call for a Bachelor’s Degree (educational requirements will depend on the organization’s preferences). In many cases, prospects don’t need previous volunteer management experience to make impressive candidates. Those who demonstrate promise and the skills listed above can become successful volunteer managers. 

Regardless of your degree and career experience, volunteer management training provides an invaluable opportunity to score a new job or build upon the skills you already have.

Why Participate in Volunteer Management Training?

Volunteer management training is for current volunteer management professionals as well as individuals seeking a career in volunteer management.

Whether you’re new to the job or a seasoned professional, volunteer management training courses offer professional development and the opportunity to continue growing in your career.

Why pursue a Volunteer Management Certification?

While you may not need a certification or degree to get hired, a volunteer management certification gives a leg up to those seeking a career in volunteer management. The certification not only looks impressive on your resume but also helps prepare you and set expectations for your new role. 

Keep reading for everything you need to know about volunteer management certification courses. 

Types of Volunteer Management Training:

Volunteer management training comes in various forms, ranging from more formal certification programs to single-day workshops. This variety means there are plenty of opportunities for today’s volunteer managers and aspiring volunteer leaders to advance their careers (and communities!). 

Let’s take a look at a few types of volunteer management training programs:

Volunteer Management Certification

Participants who complete a volunteer management certification course will receive a certificate recognized by an organization specializing in nonprofit or volunteer management. The certification shows employers that the volunteer manager has the skills and knowledge necessary to take on the role. 

One of the most popular and respected volunteer management certification programs, the Certification in Volunteer Administration (CVA) is an international credential for volunteer management and engagement professionals. Recipients must meet specific standards measured through a written exam. 

Upon completing the program, volunteers will receive a Certificate in Volunteer Administration from the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA). 

Volunteer professionals can also receive certification from other organizations. For example, some private consultancy groups, like the Volunteer Management Group, and universities offer independent volunteer management certification programs. 

Before registering for a certification program, check that the awarding organization offers a recognized volunteer management certification that meets your needs and goals. 

Regardless of the certification program, you can expect to learn best practices relevant to today’s volunteer managers. Keep reading for our list of trusted accrediting organizations and resources below.

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Volunteer Management Courses for Professional Development

You don’t need to participate in a volunteer management certification program to advance your career and grow your volunteer program. 

Volunteer management training can take many forms, from free webinars to online or in-person conferences and workshops. Some training may focus on one area of volunteer management, such as volunteer retention, while others will cover various topics. 

Part of a volunteer management team? Consider volunteer management training for staff, too! Your team can participate in a volunteer management training course that suits your professional and organizational goals. Check out our list of volunteer management training courses below to find an option that works best for you. 

Volunteer Management Training Topics:

The “why” behind management training is to support volunteer management professionals in continuously improving their expertise, skills, and volunteer programs. 

What should you expect to get out of a volunteer management training course? 

Short-form training courses and workshops tend to focus on a single facet of volunteer management. For example, you may attend an afternoon training course on volunteer engagement. Certification programs, on the other hand, offer a complete look at volunteer management best practices.

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In general, volunteer management training topics include:

Preparing for Volunteer Management Training:

Volunteer managers and administrators can get a lot out of a training course. Use these three simple guidelines to prepare for your volunteer management training:

  1. Evaluate your needs: Before you register, decide what you, your staff, and your program needs. Evaluate your personal and professional needs, the needs of your program, your organization, your community, and its volunteers. How can you help advance your volunteer program by enhancing your skills and knowledge? How can staff continue to support your volunteers? What challenges is your volunteer program currently facing? By answering these questions, you’ll get a better sense of how training can support your efforts. 
  2. Decide on the type of training: Based on your evaluation, decide what kind of training is best. For example: Does your program need to improve volunteer retention? If so, you may look for a webinar or workshop that focuses on engagement and retention strategies. Are you hoping to advance your career in volunteer management? Consider a volunteer management certification program. Do you need to get up to speed on volunteer management technology? There are plenty of resources available to learn more!
  3. Set goals for training: Goal setting is an essential practice for any professional endeavor. You’ll begin training purposefully and with focused objectives. Write down what you’re hoping to get out of volunteer management training, and use your evaluation as a goal-setting guide. If you’re attending training as a team, brainstorm and communicate objectives with program staff.

The Top Volunteer Management Training Courses and Certification Programs

Now you know what volunteer management training is and how it can help you, let’s find the best training program for your needs. We’ve compiled a list for you of the top volunteer management training courses available: 

Volunteer Management Certification Programs

  • Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration: Register directly through this internationally recognized accrediting organization to take the CVA certification exam. You can also apply to renew your certification through this site. 
  • Nonprofit Leadership Center: Recipients will receive a Certificate in Volunteer Management from the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management. The course offers a comprehensive look at volunteer management best practices. 
  • Nonprofit Austin: Earn a Certificate in Volunteer Management online, conducted in six half-day sessions. All sessions have been recognized by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration and cover the Council’s “Core Competencies for Managers of Volunteer Resources.”
  • Volunteer Management Group: Develop and improve skills like communication, leadership, and marketing designed specifically for volunteer managers in training. Receive a certificate from the consultancy agency Volunteer Management Group.
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Higher Education-Led Volunteer Management Certification

  • NC State University: Degree students and college graduates can earn a Youth, Family, and Community Sciences Online Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Volunteer Management. The graduate certificate program is an alternative to a full master’s degree and is designed to prepare students for a career as “family life and parent educators and youth professionals.”
  • University of Arkansas Little Rock: The Certified Volunteer Management Program offered by Arkansas Public Administration Consortium (APAC) develops volunteer professionals’ leadership and management skills. Fun fact: This was the first volunteer management certificate program in the country!
  • Nonprofit Austin at Austin Community College: As part of Austin Community College’s Center for Nonprofit Studies, four courses provide volunteer managers like you with professional development training and resources. Participants engage in lectures, discussions, and networking opportunities. All sessions are recognized by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration.
  • Fleming College (Ontario, Canada): This certification program consists of four online courses based on the standards set by the Human Resources Council of Canada and the Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada.

Free Volunteer Management Training Courses and Resources

  • Nonprofit.Courses: Access lots of free resources, videos, books, volunteer management tips, checklists, and best practices. 
  • Free volunteer management training from experts help volunteer managers learn practical skills to recruit, onboard, and retain volunteers. 
  • 501 Commons: The public library for all things volunteer management, 501 Commons compiles resources from across the web so volunteer managers can target their training based on their needs.
  • VolunteerMatch: Register for free webinars and video modules, great for honing skills in specific volunteer management areas.

Online Volunteer Management Training Courses

  • VolunteerPro Volunteer Management Academy: Professional-level courses are suitable for new and seasoned volunteer leaders alike. These volunteer management training courses are action-oriented and avoid “general fluff,” making quick and engaging learning (no time-wasting here!).
  • Nonprofit Learning Lab: Continue on your professional development journey with engaging sessions, including “How to Manage Difficult Volunteers” and “How to Build Strategic Volunteer Partnerships with Corporate, Civic, and Faith Groups.” 
  • Energize Inc.: Registration fee covers one year of access to 25 seminars (around five hours of instruction) and 19 self-guided seminars and a support team to answer your questions. Topics are centered around eight volunteer management best practices.
  • Udemy: This online learning platform offers several virtual courses in volunteer management (in English and Spanish). Classes are short yet informative.

More Volunteer Management Training Resources

Effective volunteer management not only aids in sustaining a program, but it can also help grow an organization. That’s why savvy community organizations invest in tools and resources that empower volunteer managers to accomplish more.

Volunteer management training prepares volunteer managers for success. But there are plenty of additional ways to support volunteer management success.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Volunteer Program ROI Guide

Tools for Better Volunteer Management

Volunteer management requires a lot of moving parts and people. Even the most organized folks can find themselves in need of more effective and efficient tools. That’s where volunteer management software comes in. 

What is volunteer management software?

While some volunteer programs rely on spreadsheets and basic scheduling tools, a dedicated volunteer management system streamlines nearly all volunteer management processes, including: 

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the volunteer management software features available. A powerful volunteer management system provides volunteer managers with a range of tools that centralize, digitize, and automate across most management activities.

How can volunteer programs benefit from volunteer management software?

Volunteer management software doesn’t replace the volunteer manager. Instead, it supports their efforts to recruit, onboard, schedule, and engage volunteers effectively. 

Volunteer management software centralizes administrative processes so that professionals can put their volunteer management training into practice. That is, a robust system can empower volunteer managers like you to reprioritize your time so that you can focus on more impactful activities like engaging stakeholders and leading volunteers.

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Further Reading

Check out these resources for more volunteer management tips and best practices: 

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