Workshop or Training Topics

Donna's workshops are all tailored to meet your needs and the following sample topics integrate "Best Practices." These are just a sample of the topics available. If you or your organization has specific needs to combine focus areas, call us. Donna recently combined a foundation workshop with a focus on building a staff-volunteer team. Anything is possible..since the aim is to meet your needs! 


This workshop is currently being offered as one of Rethink's Workshop Events and offered in communities around Ontario. It can be offered in cooperation with a local AVA who might have new, untrained members. This workshop is geared to those who are new to the field...including:

  • New co-ordinators/manager of volunteers.
  • The person who is “working with” volunteers in a minimal staff, volunteer-driven organization.
  • The co-ordinator/manager with little or no formal training because they fell into this position.
  • Are you a seasoned co-ordinator, wanting to ensure you are still on track?

For the past ten years, the competition for both funds and volunteer resources has steadily increased. At the same time, volunteers have changed what they are interested in and willing to do. Non profits need to ensure that the staff (co-ordinator or manager of volunteers) or the other staff/volunteers who guide the work of the organization by engaging volunteer resources are updated and well trained.   

This workshop will provide your organization with best practices to ensure your success.

  • 7 Key Steps - a comprehensive, simple framework for increasing your success with volunteers.
  • Best Practices in each step that you can implement.
  • Ideas and latest research on the changing needs of volunteers (youth-boomers) and what your agency needs to understand to be successful.

 DYNAMIC TENSION: Recruitment & Retention

Duration: Full day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who wish to increase the numbers of volunteers in their organizations and increase the chances for retention over longer periods of time.

There is a dynamic tension that exists between Recruitment and Retention. These two half day sessions (each described below) can be merged into a full day... explore how to recruit and how to retain. If you do a better job of retention, your need to recruit decreases. Learn the best practices involved in recruitment and retention.


Duration: Half day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who wish to increase the numbers of volunteers in their organizations.
Focus: Understand what motivates people to volunteer and how to use this in recruitment; successful recruitment methods and tips and ideas to improve your recruitment results.


Duration: Half day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who wish to decrease the turnover of volunteers.
Focus: Understanding differences in short and long term retention; the top retention strategies and tips and ideas for keeping volunteers satisfied longer.



“Dealing with Difficult or Challenging Volunteers”

Duration: Half day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who wish to decrease the turnover of volunteers.
Focus: Learning about ourselves and what we do or do not do to contribute to challenging volunteer situations. Strategies and steps we can take.

99% of volunteers, volunteer to do great work. It is likely that the 1% we call challenging or difficult take up most of our time” We need to learn how to work with, deal with and resolve issues that arise from challenging volunteers. This half day session fill focus on the following and will use examples that you deal with to find solutions:

·        What are the key myths with regard to difficult volunteers?

·        We will explore some hard truths!

·        Examine some strategies and steps we can take

·        Start to find solutions to the cases you identify. (you will be asked to complete a pre-workshop survey when you register for this session)


DEVELOPING A STRONG TEAM: Enabling Staff to work with Volunteers


Duration: Half or Full day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who wish to engage other staff more successfully to support volunteers. Executive Directors and Senior Managers.

One of the biggest challenges today is getting "other staff" in the organization, onside to work with or support volunteers. Healthy staff-volunteer relationships don't just happen. How often have you heard: "I worked really hard to find the right volunteer for that program only to find out that they left shortly after starting because staff treated them poorly?"

What does it take to form a good staff-volunteer team? This workshop will explore in-depth Best Practices for staff-volunteer relations. These lay the framework for specific strategies to generate cooperative relationships between staff and volunteers. You will learn how to create a climate where everyone feels comfortable which in turn leads to fostering good working relationships and strengthening the organization's capacity to serve. You will come to appreciate what YOUR role is in achieving good staff-volunteer relations!

SHIFTING GEARS: The Changing Volunteer Labour Force

Workshop: 3 hours to full day

David Foote introduced us to demographics and the impact that cohort groups will have on everything from housing and cars, to day care and recreation. That was over ten years ago. What has the voluntary sector done to attract and engage potential volunteers who fall into any of the cohort groupings? Each grouping has different needs and wants.

For the most part managers of volunteers have focused on traditional volunteer roles that attracted the Veteran volunteer - those faithful, committed volunteers who helped out of a sense of duty. We are witnessing rapid change as organizations struggle to recruit and retain volunteers based on traditional notions of volunteer roles.

This session will give you a snapshot of the interests and motivations of 5 demographic groups and together we will develop strategies and approaches so that you can target and engage any specific group. This will help you secure the necessary volunteer resources to fulfil the mission and goals of the organization. The 5 groups include:

  • Youth - under 20 years of age
  • Generation Y - born after 1976 - age 32 to 22 years
  • Generation X - born from 1965 to 1976 - age 43 to 32 years
  • Generation V - virtual volunteers from any age group
  • Baby Boomers - born between 1946 and 1964 - leading edge 62 years to 44 years. The largest most influential group of professionals to impact volunteering to date.


Duration: Half to full day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers concerned with issues of recruitment. Those who want to understand the needs of this special group and how to attract them as volunteers. Meaning - growing the human resources of the organization in new and creative ways.

There is much talk about changing patterns in volunteerism these days. The biggest unknown is what role the Baby Boomers will play in community life and in volunteerism. This group is comprised of a huge cohort born between 1946 and 1964. The leading edge of this age group is in their early 60's; the youngest of the group in their early 40's. Baby Boomers represent a very large and diverse group.

From current information on volunteering in Canada, we have seen a decrease in volunteerism over the past ten years. What will Baby Boomers do as they approach retirement? They are such a large population group that any continued decrease in voluteerism will have a big impact on those who rely on volunteers for service/leaderhip etc.

It is difficult to predict the future. But important to speculate and do some solid thinking about it. Preparing in small ways can make a big difference.

This workshop will focus on: 

  1. Understanding the profile of the baby boom population and their unique needs in volunteering.
  2. Translating this information into actions for your organization.
  3. You will explore and develop meaningful volunteer opportunities that attract this age group. Learn to think differently about the work volunteers do.
  4. Begin a pro-active look at your existing volunteer program and begin the adjustment to a new era.

LET'S GET CREATIVE: Best Practices for Engaging Youth as Volunteers

"WOW! I learned and expanded my understanding of youth volunteers" Susan Morris, YMCA, OEYC Co-ordinating Director

"Donna brings enthusiasm to this most important subject matter. I feel that after attending her session I can use what I learned in a beneficial way without taxing my already challenging profession." Dorothy Embacher, Volunteer Coordinator, Meaford Long Term Care Facility

Duration: Half or Full day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who wish to engage youth more successfully in their organizations. Good session to bring a variety of organizations together to form a community strategy on becoming youth-friendly!

The Workshop "Let's Get Creative: Best Practices for Engaging Youth Volunteers" has these objectives:

  • Examine the issues and challenges of working with youth as volunteers.
  • Explore and use youth trends and data to recruit and keep youth volunteers.
  • Develop and exchange creative ideas with your colleagues to engage youth and turn them into life long volunteers! Leave with an incredible list of ideas.

This session can also be customized to include the Youth Volunteer Audit a tool that will help you work through best practices.

  • Use the Youth Volunteer Audit to build successful youth volunteer programs by eliminating issues and challenges and building on best practices.
  • The Youth Volunteer Audit can be applied to one organization in a facilitated discussion or can be discussed with many organizations.

ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE: Philosophy Statement of Volunteerism

Duration: half day

Audience: All Managers of Volunteers who want to raise the profile and status of volunteers in their organizations.

We have learned a lot during the past twenty years working with organizations and building volunteer resources. One major learning has been the disconnect between engaging volunteers and supporting or believing in them. The gap between the 'talk and the walk' has really surfaced. A foundation such as a philosophy of why volunteers are engaged can go a long way in reinforcing how the work of the organization gets accomplished and more importantly how staff and volunteers make it happen.

We are coming full circle back to the foundation that has 'been missing' in our work. Building this foundation has proven to be invaluable in the results that follow. This workshop will share the cornerstones for building a Philosophy Statement and we will work together to begin to craft one for your organization. A template will help integrate the discuss ideas on values and benefits of engaging volunteers and where volunteers will or will not be engaged.

OPPORTUNITY/Position DESCRIPTIONS: Hidden Secrets in Design

Duration: Half day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who wish to attract more volunteers through creative position descriptions.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit volunteers. Time is the most limiting factor to their commitment. Today most volunteers are seeking 'opportunities' not jobs or positions as we have labeled them in the past. A well crafted opportunity may be the most valuable tool you have for recruiting and engaging volunteers. This session will focus on the elements or hidden secrets that make descriptions a vital tool in recruitment and also in engaging volunteers. Understanding the importance of motivation and tying it to design is fundamental to success. A number of opportunity descriptions and a template will be examined.

KEEPING IT TIDY: Develop Policies & Procedures

Duration: Half or Full day
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who need to develop program policies or revise existing ones. If the group wishes to develop specific policies this would lend itself well to a full day session. Executive Directors and Senior Staff in organizations without a Manager of Volunteers.

This is a very practical, hands-on session where examples will be shared and discussion focused on:

  1. Why do we need policies?
  2. The difference between Policy and Procedures
  3. Benefits of Policies
  4. The types of Policies
  5. Policies for Volunteer Programs
  6. How to write policy
  7. Policy forms and tracking process

STRATEGIC PLANNING for Managers of Volunteers

Duration: Full day session
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced. Developing a strategic plan for a volunteer program is a primary tool for positioning your services within the organization.

When we think of strategic planning, we often think about the agency or organization and the overall planning they do on an annual basis. Your program is often part of this bigger picture. As a vital part of the organization, you need to be equally prepared for the future. You can develop a picture of the future (Vision), a purpose (Mission), examine current Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT Analysis), establish concrete goals (Directions) and develop actions (Action steps or Objectives) for the Volunteer Program that you manage.

Without a plan in place, the Manager of Volunteers is like a captain of a rudderless ship! This workshop will provide you with the framework and components to develop your own strategic plan for the volunteer program you manage. Some side effects of this session are "renewed energy and commitment to change that will propel your program to new heights."

Extensive materials and templates will be provided to assist you with your journey!

"Ran an excellent planning session. Was aware of where the "group" was at; met objectives; kept us on track."  - Stafford Murphy, Executive Director, Lennox and Addington Addiction Services

Strategic Planning Workshop: Big Brother and Sisters of Peterborough comments:
"Working as a group is so valuable. Different perspectives respected."  "Donna kept us on track and gave us permission to be realistic of our core objectives." "Helped us explore the enormous potential of the agency!"


Duration: Half or Full day session
Audience: All Managers of Volunteers, new and experienced who wish to develop a partnership with the business community. This session would also lend itself to an audience of business and nonprofits thinking about partnering on community projects. What are the benefits and challenges for both groups?

Research shows that corporate-employee volunteer programs are on the rise. Volunteer Canada issued a corporate challenge. These programs can benefit the corporation, the employees, the voluntary organizations and ultimately the community. However, the right connection and support must be made in order for a successful partnership to occur.

What is a corporate-employee volunteer program?
What are the challenges and benefits for all the partners?
What steps should you take if you are considering this direction?
Making sure you understand it is it more that just increasing your recruitment opportunities?
What the nonprofit can do to encourage and support business?

Other TOPICS are always in the works! This list is just a sample so if you have other requests please call or send us an email and we will be happy to talk with you.

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