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Volunteer Training

Volunteers enable Special Olympics to offer sports training and competition to individuals with intellectual disability across the globe. Special Olympics would not exist today—and could not have been created—without the time, energy, dedication and commitment of the more than 800,000 volunteer that we have today.


This section includes the voluteer handbook, and documents on volunteer orientation, how to design volunteer jobs, train volunteer trainers, and rules and code of conduct captured under the rubric "Protective Behaviors".


The goal of supervising Special Olympics volunteers is to establish conditions that encourage and support others to get the jobs done. Unlike the traditional supervisor/worker model, this model encourages staff and volunteers to be increasingly involved in decision-making, and to take more responsibility for their actions.


Screening and interviewing candidates for a volunteer position with Special Olympics is very important in selecting the most qualified person. This is to ensure that a person is appropriate for the position you seek to fill. The necessity for a face-to-face interview (in lieu of a phone interview or application review) is based on the volunteer s level of responsibility and his/her direct contact with athletes.


When Special Olympics Program staff or key volunteers are involved in recruitment they are anxious in finding the right person. When the wrong person is recruited, volunteer feels incompetent and/or unfulfilled, leading to performance and retention problems, or the Program does not get the job done. Successful recruitment involves marketing your Program's volunteer needs to the segment of people who can fill those needs while simultaneously filling their ownA good recruitment program focuses on designing a strategy to find the right individual.


The scope of recognition is very broad and must be considered an integral part of every Special Olympics Programs and management philosophy which continually seeks to notice and value individual contributions. Powerful and meaningful recognition begins when we recognize the talents and desires of prospective volunteers and offer them the job which responds to their motivational needs. Recognition should be timely and genuine. It can be either formal or informal and should be based on the motivation and level of responsibility of the volunteer. Informal recognition should exist at all levels of the Program. Formal recognition should be the responsibility of the Program's paid and volunteer staff.


Performance Reviews are reflections of the importance of volunteers in Special Olympics and the movement's commitment to providing the highest quality programs to our athletes. It is a mutual way to express appreciation, identify problems and needs, determine the volunteer's future involvement in Special Olympics, and hold the volunteer and the Program accountable for their commitment to one another.


Special Olympics has needs it wants met through volunteers, but success will only occur when the motivational needs of those volunteers are met simultaneously. At the heart of successful volunteer motivation is taking the time to discover what desires the volunteer wants to fulfill by volunteering with the Movement.