Induction is the process of preparing volunteers for a clear relationship with the organisation. It should make volunteers feel comfortable and ensure they understand the group or organisation’s history, ethos, structure and procedures. This will help ensure they will contribute productively to the organisation’s work and have a positive volunteering experience. Even if a volunteer is already highly skilled, induction is essential.
Induction should provide answers to three questions:
- Why should I be volunteering here? eg what is the cause all about?
- How will I be volunteering here? eg what are the volunteer management systems?
- Where do I fit in with everyone else? eg what is the social environment in which I’ll work?
The induction process falls into two parts.
- Orientation: the process of preparing volunteers for a relationship with the group or organisation.
- Training: the process of preparing the volunteer to perform work for the group or organisation
Every volunteer should know they will be required to attend an orientation or a training session. Orientation is distinguished from training in that it is usually more general and informal, providing information every volunteer should know. Training is designed to equip volunteers with the specific skills and knowledge required by their position.
The problem of volunteers leaving an organisation soon after being recruited is often due to poor induction procedures. Induction must be relevant and interesting. Small group induction coupled with a volunteer handbook is often very effective.
It may also be helpful to use an induction checklist as a record for the organisation and the volunteer of what was covered.