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Mobilization Tool Kit -- Volunteer Training

Volunteer training is what this online Mobilization Tool Kit is all about, and I hope you find it a valuable resource for yourself and your volunteers. Please feel free to copy or modify this information for your own use. We have no problems with reproduction in any form, but request a credit to the "YAEC Online Mobilization Tool Kit". Your suggestions are always welcome by email.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, with widely varying degrees of skill, from green neophyte to high-paid professional. Your job is to match the volunteers to jobs they can effectively and happily do, taking care not to "underemploy" skilled labour, and to ramp up your volunteers abilities so that they can do more and do it more effectively.

Training can be as simple as saying, "read this book" or "browse the Communications section of this Web site". Hopefully you will then add, "call me if you have any questions, and we'll talk about it next Thursday when we see each other again". Training can also be much more involved, requiring a large amount of your time. Let me give you an example.

Back in the days when desktop publishing was the hottest new technology, I had a lot of requests from volunteers who wanted to learn how to do it. So I decided to set up a course and teach them how to desktop; to relieve me of the responsibility. I trained three or four people at a time, over the course of six half-day sessions. Afterwards, they were capable of some design and layout on the new software. I trained a dozen or more people, and guess how many actually helped out after the training? One. (Who still helps today, and is now a professional graphic artist.) That was a lot of wasted time on my part.

What went wrong? I was too eager to help others out, too willing to give potential volunteers a substantial amount of training sight unseen. I should never have invested several days of training with new volunteers who had not yet shown their dedication to the organization-- particularly when the training involved something "hot" that lots of people wanted to learn about. Be careful who you train to design your Web pages!

The people you can afford to invest with a lot of training time, are the same people who have shown their dedication to your cause and organization, by contributing a significant amount of their time, and proving themselves helpful. I suggest you offer lengthy training as a "barter" of sorts; with the volunteer committing to take on certain responsibilities during/after their training to make it worthwhile for the organization.

A lot of activities require one or two group training sessions for a large number of people. For example, preparing parade marshals for a large event, or participants for a civil disobedience. The keys to success for such a training include the following:

Training is an ongoing activity that we do with one another all the time. It's called the School of Hard Knocks. Experiential learning. Hands-on learn-by-doing. Lifelong learning is the way of the organizer. Keep an open mind, and always be willing to share your knowledge with others.


The Activist Tool Kit is a project inspired by YAEC:

Youth Action Effecting Change
yaec@eya.ca     www.yaec.ca
PO Box 34097 Station D Vancouver BC V6J 4M1 CANADA

The Activist Tool Kit was written and built by Al Rycroft of SunshineCommunications.ca.

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