Orientation is the process of introducing the new volunteer to the organisation making them feel welcomed and comfortable. It is conducted after recruitment and selection have taken place, and prior to the volunteer commencing their role with the organisation.
Orientation can be done formally or informally; with a group or individually.
Regardless of how you choose to involve people in orientation, the following areas are key questions that volunteers will need answered:
WHY? Orientation to the cause introduces new volunteer/s to the organisation’s mission, core business and programs. It may include: mission and vision, ideals, aims, strategic plan, program history, and more broadly, the field or sector.
HOW? Orientation to the system provides an overview of the structure and management of the organisation. It may include channels of communication and reporting (what they are and how they work), guidelines and policies, structure, funding sources, and rules where applicable.
WHO? Orientation to the people introduces the new volunteer to the staff (paid and unpaid) with whom they will be working. This may include introduction to staff, management, board members, and other volunteers as well as discussion of the relationships and reporting arrangements, both direct and indirect.
WORKING TOGETHER: Orientation to the culture provides information about the culture of the organisation, such as appropriate forms of dress, behaviour, language, social interaction, or where to have lunch.
WHAT? Orientation to the work looks at the scope and boundaries of volunteer work including roles, modes of work and job descriptions.
WHERE? Orientation to the workplace provides information on the work areas, the amenities, where key staff or machinery are situated and an orientation to workplace health and safety elements including fire exits and equipment.
Following selection and orientation of volunteers, training ensures volunteers have the skills, knowledge and understanding of the organisation to fulfil their volunteer role with competence and confidence.
Training may be one-to-one or group based, formalised or informal, and facilitated from within the organisation or externally to the organisation. Topics covered by skills training are as diverse as the roles and the work in which volunteers now become involved.