Successful charity work is built on a strong passion and commitment among those who volunteer. Onboarding and training programs must therefore have a positive impact on the individuals’ motivation.
In this article, we talk to Head of Digital Learning Helena Sandström at the Swedish Red Cross about her experiences and tips around boosting knowledge levels and motivation among volunteers - locally as well as nationally.
What are the 3 main challenges when it comes to skills development among volunteers?
Volunteers are usually highly motivated and passionate individuals. Still, it can be challenging to create a long-term engagement. It is therefore our priority to make sure our volunteers feel happy, involved and that they grow together with our organization.
We also want to offer better opportunities for skills development as part of the everyday work. It should be easy to learn from each other and access tailored education as and when you need it.
Our third challenge is making sure we fully benefit from the knowledge and experience that sit within this organization. Operating nationwide, we have a lot of valuable competencies spread out across the country.
How do you solve these challenges?
Offering education and training programs is an essential part of our volunteer support. We provide both physical and virtual courses on both national and local levels. On a national level, we develop foundation courses based on individual role types. We use local adaptation in order to create relevant learning experiences for everyone. In order to keep the content relevant and up to date, we collaborate with the local units.
Another solution is tailored course streams. We provide our volunteers easy access to both introductory courses as well as materials for inspiration and further development. When transitioning within the organization, it should be easy to identify the knowledge gaps and find the required training.
During the pandemic we initiated digital networking among our staff and volunteers, which proved a success. It is a brilliant way to come together, share knowledge and get a sense of belonging. On a national level we will continue developing such initiatives and explore new ways to share local knowledge with the broader organization.
You currently use Learnster’s LMS. What benefits have you experienced so far?
We have used various platforms throughout the years, however we find Learnster’s LMS to be particularly user-friendly. Now it is easy to sign up for and complete training programs, and we have seen a much higher course completion rate.
We have also noticed an increase in knowledge sharing and course creation within the organization, which is great to see.