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Volunteer training - a suggestion

Your volunteer training has a monetary value. Are you making the most of it?

Whether a new volunteer joins you to make the tea for your group meeting or becomes one of your trustees, they will need some training. There probably isn’t a volunteer role anywhere that doesn’t need some initial training or induction.

As Leaders of Volunteers, training is a very important part of our function that can involve considerable investment of time and resources. While our training will always be tailored to the activities and needs of our own organisation or project, many of us could be delivering training on similar topics.

One example of this would be training of befriending volunteers.

Despite the comprehensive training programme offered by NCVS, we can’t offer training in those specialist skills. We provide “generalist” volunteering and organisational skills support and training.

Here’s the suggestion:

You are the expert in your own service area. Could you open up the specialist training you already provide to external partners?

Benefits and Disadvantages

Some benefits would be:

  • An overall increase in the quality of volunteer training across the sector
  • Increased influence and respect for the provider organisation
  • Income for your organisation by charging for places on courses that you would be running anyway.

There may well be other benefits, but maybe some negatives too:

  • Possibly having to make your befriender training more generic to attract bookings
  • Fear that other organisations might “steal” your volunteers (By the way, they’re not “your” volunteers – you are their organisation!)
  • Factions and conflict could form between “home” and “external” volunteers.

All of these negatives can be overcome by ensuring that both organisations exercise best practice in volunteer leadership and in planning and delivering training.

It already happens

There are already organisations who have opened up their specialist training to the sector. You can regularly see these in the 'Training from Other Providers' section of the fortnightly NCVS e-bulletin. If this is something you could offer, please let us know by emailing the details to communications@nottinghamcvs.co.uk.

National or local

Earlier this week, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) published an interesting report that called for government-level support for processes to make it easier for volunteers to move between organisations. This approach has been around for years under the umbrella of various schemes known as Volunteer Passports.

While the BHF’s report doesn’t actually recommend a Volunteer Passport, we at NCVS feel that schemes of this type put the onus on the volunteer to “prove” that they have the skills our organisations want them to have or develop. We encourage cooperation between organisations, but each organisation takes the responsibility for supporting volunteers.

This article was in the process of being written before this report came out, but we feel it was important to acknowledge the BHF report.


Of course, there is an issue that prompted this whole article in the first place.

NCVS has been asked if we know of any organisations providing training in befriending skills. Is this you?

If you’d like to talk about this area of volunteer support – as a provider or as a potential partner, please contact Dave Thomas, our Volunteering Development Officer. Email davet@nottinghamcvs.co.uk or call 07564 040767.


Date Posted: 
Thursday, 22 June, 2023

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