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VECTor 2016 Storify Recap!

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, March 22, 2016

Tags:  Storify  Twitter  VECTor 2016 recap  Volunteer Management  Volunteer Management Conference  What Happened at VECTor2016 

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Bringing the Grassroots Together: Maximizing Capacity for Mentorship and Collaboration

Posted By Claire McWatt, Project Coordinator, Grassroots Growth , March 18, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In grassroots groups, passion runs high, as dedicated volunteers commit their spare time to running an entire organization with very limited resources.

Limited access to resources is a problem shared not only by grassroots groups, but also by the entire non-profit sector (am I right?). It can be a major challenge to accomplish goals when stretched so thin. But for grassroots groups who have limited access to sector support and difficulty applying best practices to a grassroots context, this can be particularly challenging. Although grassroots groups find impressive ways to get crafty in a pinch, these tips are not readily available to all groups that could potentially benefit. By engaging in peer mentorship, grassroots groups can learn from each other, and share tips and tricks to facing the unique challenges of managing volunteer-run organizations.

Due to the entrepreneurial spirit of grassroots groups, often there are many initiatives operating at the same time, with similar goals and mandates. In light of this, it makes sense to explore how to foster more collaboration between groups, and build capacity for the development of partnerships and coalitions.

Collaboration can benefit groups in a number of ways, increasing efficiency, resources, support, reach, and legitimacy. However, for this to work, these partnerships need to be mutually beneficial, and that requires thoughtful preparation to ensure a smooth ride, and a strong outcome.

For more information on collaboration, check out this helpful article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, that outlines different types of partnerships and the various pros and cons.

As with a lot of sector resources, many are focused on larger nonprofits. Luckily, in the coming weeks Grassroots Growth will begin developing our Peer Mentorship strategy, specifically designed to bring grassroots groups together in our Community of Practice. This will allow for the sharing of tips, as well as tailoring of helpful approaches to collaboration to better suit the specific needs of volunteer-run groups. To learn more about how to get involved in shaping this process, contact Claire McWatt.

 

Claire leads the development of the Grassroots Growth project’s online community of practice, including the Peer Mentorship Forum and Wiki Resource Directory. She also manages relationships with Grassroots Growth partners, handles project administration, and collaborates with the Education Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator in research, training and outreach.


Tags:  activist groups  Challenges for Grassroots Organizations  collaboration  collaboration for Grassroots  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  improving your community group  Toronto 

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Measure Twice, Cut Once - Evaluating The Effectiveness of Your Volunteer Program

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, March 16, 2016
Updated: March 14, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

A program evaluation is a process of reviewing all or part of a program to determine how efficiently and effectively it meets its goals. While you might be evaluating your volunteers regularly, you may not be evaluating the volunteer program itself! Through an assessment of key evaluation questions and determining proposed outcomes, you can collect data to analyze the success and impact of your volunteer program.

So why bother going through all of this effort? Here are a few great ways that a program evaluation can help you improve your volunteer program:

 

Measure efficiency

Do you sometimes struggle with finding work for volunteers to do? Do you have too many volunteers working on the same task? Your program’s efficiency can be improved by determining the work that needs to be done and the best way to do it (how many volunteers & volunteer hours, for example).

 

Measure effectiveness

Do you have a long-standing program that doesn’t meet changing needs? Are your volunteers resistant to changes that can improve program delivery? Your program’s effectiveness speaks to the success of volunteers – and their work – striving towards your organization’s mission. You can improve your volunteer program’s efficacy by understanding and eliminating the barriers to success.

 

Measure Impact

Are you going beyond efficiency and effectiveness and making lasting changes in the lives of clients? Do you know how to measure the direct impact of volunteers on clients? Even if you know your program’s impact is already felt or understood by the people who benefit from it, you can improve and advocate for your program by properly measuring and showcasing its impact. It will motivate your volunteers by showing them their impact, help you assess an overall direction for your volunteer program, and give you proof that your program is working that you can share with funders and decision makers.

 

How do you conduct an evaluation of your volunteer program in the middle of everything else you’ve got going on? Let us help you get started with “From Start to Finish: Building the Tools You Need to Evaluate your Volunteer Program” on April 21. You’ll leave this full day workshop with your evaluation questions written, logic model complete, achievable and well-planned goals established, data collection methods ready to go and a step-by-step plan to interpret your data. We’ll coach you through the process and you’ll be ready to take on your program evaluation with all the tools ready to go! Interested in learning more and signing up – click here and register today!

 

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  evaluation  how to be more efficient in your volunteer program  Program evaluation  volunteer management  volunteer managers  volunteer programs  volunteers  ways to improve your volunteer program 

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An Age Old Tale… Striving to Engage Senior Volunteers

Posted By Kelly Devries, Outreach Coordinator, March 3, 2016
Updated: March 2, 2016
 Senior woman smiling

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In Toronto, there are many seniors who want to volunteer and many non-profits wanting to engage them. So how can we make this happen? In the summer of 2015 Volunteer Toronto conducted several focus groups to learn more about what seniors are looking for in a volunteer opportunity and some of the barriers they experience. 

 

From that research I’ve found 7 key things for non-profits to remember when striving to engage senior volunteers:


1) Seniors have a lot of expertise to offer

Many seniors have worked for 35+ years and have a lot of professional and personal expertise to offer. Make sure to have roles that recognize the wealth of experience seniors can bring to your organization.


2) Seniors aren’t a homogenous group

Seniors can range in age from 55 to 105 years old and can encompass vast cultural backgrounds, experiences, abilities and knowledge. Ensure that you are acknowledging the diversity of seniors in your recruitment and that you aren’t acting on misperceptions.    


3) Seniors may want flexibility in their role

Non-profits have a notion that senior volunteers will be the most consistent for scheduling and commitments. Remember to recognize that seniors want flexibility to accommodate things like travel, babysitting grandkids, health concerns and more. Offering flexibility in your volunteer positions will allow seniors to actively engage in their volunteer position and their personal life.


4) Seniors may require special accommodation

Some seniors may need physical accommodation in their volunteer position including being able to sit instead of stand, not being expected to carry heavy supplies, a quiet work-space to be able to hear well, additional training and more. If you want to engage more senior volunteers you should ensure that you are able to provide proper accommodation as needed.


5) Seniors may have trouble with the bureaucracy of the application process (especially if everything is done online)

 Over the past 20 years, the volunteer recruitment & screening process has mostly moved online and for some folks this has made the process more challenging. Provide alternative methods for seniors to find out about and apply to volunteer opportunities, such as mailed newsletters and in-person application forms.


6) Seniors may not have a recent resume or cover letter

Asking for a cover letter and resume may discourage a senior who has been out of the workforce for 15 years from applying for your position. Consider asking for a self-assessment of skills, or highlights of experience.


7) Seniors want to be respected for their age

One of the largest takeaways from the focus groups was that seniors want to be respected for their age and experience. Recognize that seniors have a lot to offer and respect all that they do, while accommodating any particular needs they have from the point of life they are in.


I’ll be discussing this topic in greater detail with volunteer managers and coordinators from across the city at the March 9 VECTor Conference. Learn more about my Discussion Circle here and register for VECTor here!

 

Kelly DeVries is Volunteer Toronto's Community Engagement Coordinator. She coordinates a team of hardworking volunteers who represent Volunteer Toronto at community events. She is the voice of our Volunteer Times newsletter and assists the many events and programs we organize to inspire people in Toronto to volunteer.

Tags:  active seniors  how to engage senior volunteers  misconceptions about seniors  retired volunteers  seniors  working with senior volunteers 

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INFOGRAPHIC: How Do You Thank Your Volunteers?

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, March 2, 2016
 

Infographic: Volunteer Recognition 

 


As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra James is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support. She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circles - discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement. 

 

Tags:  How to thank your volunteer  Inforgraphic  Volunteer awards  volunteer recognition  ways to thank your volunteers  what kind of recognition do volunteers want? 

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4 Things to Think About When Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in Your Organization

Posted By Rui Miguel Martins, Volunteer Guest Blogger, February 29, 2016
Updated: February 26, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Toronto’s rapidly changing demographics present new opportunities and challenges for small organizations. Increasing diversity could help with networking and building relationships in your community, however, attracting people of diverse backgrounds is often difficult.

Jim Milligan is a certified LifeSkills coach and former volunteer manager. He spoke to a group of grassroots leaders about strategies for recruiting and retaining people of different backgrounds. It was the latest event in Volunteer Toronto’s Trailblazer Series, a set of leadership talks geared towards people who lead volunteer-run non-profits.

 

Here are the four things that organizations should consider when thinking about diversity and inclusion.

 

1. Frame of Reference

Are you open to thinking about your organization in new ways? What biases do you have? Everything we have experienced until this point in our lives has shaped our opinions and perceptions. Perspective is everything. Recognizing your frames of reference is critical when thinking about the recruitment and retention of volunteers.


2. Dimensions of Diversity

It is always important for an organization to have clearly-defined goals and a recruitment strategy in place. Begin by deciding what type of diversity you want to focus on. Diversity consists of many different dimensions including gender, sexual orientation, education, age, etc. Think about why your organization might be attractive to people of diverse audiences. How will your organization benefit? And how will the volunteer benefit from their involvement? Next, you need to decide how you are going to reach out to these groups. “Diversity is about how we are different and how those differences could enhance our relationships,” Milligan says. Diversity is a strength, not a barrier.


3. Cultural Competence

Non-profit leaders should be able to understand how our own cultural differences manifest themselves through beliefs, values, practices and through our biases. Having the professional skills to connect with each person and understand their world view is always important.


4. Deliberative Dialogue

Use dialogue that is intentional and collaborative. Listen to find meaning and understanding. This could mean admitting you are wrong or weighing the alternatives. The purpose should always be to find common ground. Your organization is about solving a problem and not about winning and losing. Oppositional or divisive language will just drive people away. “Good diversity always begins with you,” Milligan says. 

 

 

Rui Miguel Martins is a communications specialist and social media strategist based in Toronto. He currently volunteers his time at Make A Change Canada, Yonge Street Mission, as well as at Volunteer Toronto.

 

Tags:  board of directors  cultural competency  diversity in your non-profit  how to attract diverse people  increase diversity  Toronto  volunteer  Volunteer Toronto  volunteering  volunteers 

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Starting The Conversation With Leadership About Volunteer Impact

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, February 25, 2016
Updated: February 25, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The impact of volunteering can easily be overlooked by executives and senior managers who aren’t directly involved in the organization’s volunteer program. However, volunteer involvement is crucial in the functioning of non-profits in at least two ways: governance and strategy.

First of all, it’s important to remember that the governance of your organization relies exclusively on volunteer engagement: your Board of Directors is made up of volunteers! This team of high-skilled, high-level volunteers have a huge influence on your organization’s functioning, from its image to its strategic direction to its finances. The type of work they do for your organization, their motivations for volunteering, and the way they’re supervised may be very different from those of your other volunteers, but it’s still important to consider best practices in volunteer management when working with your Board volunteers.

Take volunteer recognition, for example. You may think that your Board members aren’t interested in the volunteer socials you hold for your program volunteers and the thank you gifts you give them each year (and you may be right). But that doesn’t mean you should forego recognition. Volunteer management best practice tells us that recognition should be meaningful to the volunteer, and that the most common way volunteers want to be recognized is by knowing the impact of their work. So if you can, take some time to get to know the motivations of your Board members and to find a type of recognition that would match those motivations, including letting them know their impact. Becoming familiar with volunteer management best practices, from recruitment to retention, can help you find ways to engage your Board more effectively.

Second, program volunteers may be responsible for a larger proportion of your organization’s direct impact on clients than you’re aware of. How many of your services would be unsustainable without volunteer involvement? What is the value added that volunteers bring to your programs? If you aren’t sure about some of these questions, it may be time to evaluate your volunteer program to get a better sense of its outcomes and impact. Through this program evaluation, you can showcase to your senior managers and executives the direct impact your volunteer program has on the community you serve, and more importantly how volunteers help you achieve your mission. This can have a huge influence on strategic planning and decisions being made about program growth or service changes.

While convincing leadership to appreciate the values and impact of the volunteer program can be a challenge, there are a few ways to start the conversation:

  • Introduce – and even adopt – the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement, a guiding document on the value, principles and standards of engaging volunteers adopted by hundreds of organizations
  • Re-evaluate what you report to your executives and Board on volunteer involvement; how you report it can also have an impact, as volunteer stories can go a long way
  • Encourage senior managers to meet and learn more about your volunteers, from Board members to occasional volunteers

At the VECTor Conference on March 9, we’re inviting Executive Directors, senior managers and Board members to explore the impact of volunteer programs on their communities in the Leadership Stream. This specialized program stream will explore governance and strategy in a collaborative way to improve organization-wide (and top-down) support of volunteer programs. While your executives and senior managers may not have a chance to attend, you can always remind them of the great work, value and impact of your volunteer program that informs how successful your organization is at striving toward your mission.

 

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement  Executive Directors  governance strategy  Leadership stream  Non-profit board of directors  Non-profit leadership  volunteer recognition 

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Why Requiring “Fluency in English” is a Barrier To Finding Great Volunteers

Posted By Melina Condren, Director of Engaging Organizations, February 23, 2016
Updated: February 23, 2016
 Image of dictionary meaning for

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

At Volunteer Toronto, we provide a lot of training and support for volunteer managers who are trying to recruit volunteers. One of the things that we always recommend is they recruit using detailed position descriptions, with specific requirements for each role. This basic strategy works wonders for people trying to find the right fit for the position, but sometimes requirements that are too narrow can do more harm than good.

One of the most common requirements that we see in the volunteer positions listed on our website is “fluency in English.” This requirement automatically shuts the door for a huge pool of applicants; applicants who may have very valuable skills, perspectives and ideas to contribute, and applicants who certainly deserve the same opportunities to be engaged in their communities as everyone else.

I won’t try to deny that being able to communicate effectively in various ways is an important part of many volunteer roles. But being “fluent” in a language is not an easy concept to quantify, and the requirement may deter people who don’t have a perfect mastery of the language, or who are volunteering specifically as a way to improve their English. Although some positions may actually require complete fluency, many others can be accomplished with varying levels of language skills. A great way to start making your volunteer program more open and accessible is to re-examine your positions to figure out exactly what language skills are required to be able to fulfill the role successfully, and then get a lot more specific in your position descriptions.

 
Ask yourself:


  • What, exactly will this volunteer be doing? What are the specific tasks associated with this role?
  • Is communication a big part of this role? If so, will it be in person, over the phone or in writing?
  • Will most of the communication in this role be spontaneous (walk-in clients with questions) or prepared in advance (written content or presentations that have been practiced)? Will it be formal or casual?
  • Is there any jargon or technical language that this volunteer will need to know? If so, will they receive training to help them prepare?

 

Once you’ve given those questions some thought, update your position descriptions. Delete “Must be fluent in English” and replace it with the skills you actually need:


  • If your front desk volunteer will be greeting clients and making them feel welcome, say “Must have good conversation skills and a friendly approach with clients.”
  • If your communications assistant volunteer will be writing blog posts, say “Must be able to write and proofread clear, concise and engaging content.”
  • If your outreach volunteer will be doing group presentations, say “Must be comfortable with public speaking and be able to clearly explain our services to a group.”

 

You may even find that some of your positions don’t have specific language requirements after all!

Not only is being specific and direct about the real requirements of the position a fairer and more inclusive way to recruit, but it will also broaden your applicant pool and help you find the best volunteer for the role. It’s a win-win situation that I can’t recommend enough.

 

Photo of Melina CondrenMelina Condren oversees all of Volunteer Toronto's services for organizations, including our training program, volunteer management conference, subscriptions program, and new Grassroots Growth project. Her priority is to ensure our services are effectively helping non-profits build capacity through volunteer involvement and continue to meet the ever-evolving needs of the voluntary sector.

Tags:  ESL volunteers  How to volunteer as a newcomer  Learning english through volunteering  newcomer volunteers  volunteer  Volunteer position description  volunteering in Toronto  writing good position descriptions 

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How To Network Your Way To A Better Volunteer Program

Posted By Kasandra James & Sammy Feilchenfeld, February 18, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In the non-profit sector, “networking” just sounds like any other buzzword, but this business term is about more than meeting people in your own profession. As managers of volunteers, networking can help you improve your program, and the way you do your work, in great new ways.


So why should volunteer managers network with each other?

  • To learn about challenges faced by others in the same role at different kinds of organizations – and more importantly, how they overcame these challenges.
  • To inquire about successes that others have seen in their own volunteer programs. These best and promising practices can help your program succeed as well!
  • To meet others with varying levels of experience in the role, you can create meaningful partnerships to maximize your efficiency – such as sharing software, recruitment techniques, or even volunteer pools.
  • To avoid “reinventing the wheel” for your volunteer management practice, and especially get a grasp of what kind of technology, support systems, consulting, venue rental opportunities and more are available to you in your role.
  • To receive valuable feedback and insight on your own volunteer program from volunteer managers who do similar work – get an outside opinion of what’s working and what isn’t.
  • To learn about new trends in the sector, how they affect volunteer management and the changes you can anticipate and begin planning for the future.

 

You might be getting excited about the opportunities networking can provide – but you also need to know how you can meet these other volunteer managers! Here are a few great places to start:


LinkedIn
The professional social network can help you stay connected through topical groups, and organizational pages. Check out Volunteer Toronto's Linkedin Page.


Associations of Volunteer Administrators

Toronto & Scarborough both have their very own AVA’s to bring people together and start a dialogue through monthly meetings and beyond. Visit TAVA and SAVA's websites.


Community organizations & communities of practice

Look for the organizations serving your community and connecting non-profits for a local or common cause, such as TRIEC.


Subscriber Circles

Monthly discussion series hosted by Volunteer Toronto for Full Subscriber organizations on a variety of volunteer management trends and topics. See what circle is coming up this month!


Conferences

VECTor ConferenceVolunteer Toronto - March 9th
TAVA ConferenceTAVA - February 25th
LIVE Conference: PAVRO - May 26th-27th

 

The VECTor Conference will include a variety of structured networking opportunities that will give attendees the opportunity to connect with colleagues in the non-profit sector and build networks of your own. The Marketplace is a chance to meet with vendors and community partners providing the tech and tools that can support your programs, and give you great new ideas.

Networking doesn’t have to be difficult – seek out your peers and start a conversation today! Your volunteer program will be better for it.

 

Kasandra James & Samuel FeilchenfeldKasandra James is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support. She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circles, contributes to Volunteer Toronto's Sector Space newsletter, blogs & social media as well as ensures our program continues to help non-profit's build capacity through volunteer involvement.

Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers Volunteer Toronto's in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  Community  How To Build A Support Network  Network building  Networking for Volunteer Managers  Volunteer Administrators  Volunteer Management Conferences 

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From The Bottom Up: Grassroots Leadership Models

Posted By Louroz Mercader, Community Outreach Coordinator, Grassroots Growth, February 16, 2016
Updated: February 16, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Across our city and province today, reliance on grassroots leadership is growing. We expect ordinary citizens to take on our biggest challenges and help forge workable solutions. The Grassroots Growth project has taken the time to learn about who they are, what motivates them and what challenges they face, and now we want to help  support their efforts, .

Grassroots groups without a hierarchy usually devolve into anarchy.  While this may seem counterintuitive for a grassroots organization, the group will need a leadership and governance structure with defined responsibilities if it is going to succeed at a high level.

While there are the traditional forms of governance structures for volunteer-driven groups, such as having a formal Board of Directors, there are other less formal models that can be just as good, depending on the needs of the group.

Many groups use a “Leadership Team” or collective model, where power and decision-making is distributed evenly among a core group of volunteers. They often share responsibilities, they may rotate positions, and some operate by consensus, which can be challenging. While some groups function with a “Strong Leader Model”, where one person—usually the founder, who has a dynamic personality—drives the organization forward.

The leadership team and strong leader models are recommended as temporary measures that groups should employ.  We recommend that groups should use the model that works best for their group right now, and when ready, transition towards selecting a more traditional form of governance in order to increase their legitimacy and access resources that are only available to groups with particular governance structures.

If you are looking to start or grow your small grassroots organization, establishing the right governance and leadership structure will help you and your volunteers to successfully achieve your mission.

 

The Grassroots Growth Project is hosting two FREE pilot workshops on Grassroots Governance: Building A Structure That Fits:

 

Tuesday, February 23 from 6-9pm at Volunteer Toronto

Saturday, February 27 from 1:30 – 4:30pm at Fairview Public Library, North York.

 

To register and learn more visit the Grassroots Growth webpage.

 
As Community Outreach Coordinator for the Grassroots Growth project, Louroz reaches out to volunteer-run groups in Toronto and across Ontario to help spread the word about the project and get our services out to those who need them most.

Tags:  Governance  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  leadership  Non-profit strategy  non-profits  volunteer  volunteer engagement  volunteer-run organizations 

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The Building Blocks For Volunteer Planning

Posted By Ainsley Kendrick, February 11, 2016
 Road sign - success/solution

 

Lori Gotlieb presents “Building Block for Strategic Planning for Volunteers” at the 2016 VECTor Conference on March 9, 2016. Register now to choose her workshop, and check out some great tips below!

 


 

I find it interesting that when you look at the volunteer management cycle and all the components, that there is not much on strategic planning.

Are volunteer programs seen more as a support program that is focussed on responding to need or are volunteer programs moving to leadership programs where we engage volunteers in ways that may drive organizational business?

For example, what if a volunteer who had many years of project management experience offers to share their skills with the organization? Where could that fit in?

We need to start looking at strategic planning for volunteerism in a new and meaningful way.


To start, we need to understand:

 

  • Who our stakeholders are and what they need through stakeholder analysis;
  • The risks in volunteer management and the tools to minimize those risks to staff, clients and volunteers through a risk assessment;
  • Our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with regards to volunteer engagement through SWOT and PEST analysis;
  • The trends in the field through research and networking;

 

Once you’ve considered the above, you can then move to the next step by:

 

  • Engaging volunteers in the process;
  • Developing priorities; goals and objectives to keep on track through project management.
  • Determining an ideal end result and outcome of the process
  • Get started!

 

On March 9th join me at VECTor 2016 as we will be discussing all these points and more at my workshop on Building Blocks for Strategic Planning for Volunteerism.

 

 
 Lori Gotlieb photoLori Gotlieb is the President of Lori Gotlieb Consulting as well as co-developer and faculty member for Humber College Volunteer Management Leadership Certificate. She is a volunteer management expert who provides a unique concierge service to her clients as well as an internationally published author and workshop facilitator who has taught workshops to many diverse audiences across North America. Lori was the 2012 recipient of the Linda Buchanan Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management. 

Tags:  Executive Directors  Leadership  Non-profit strategy  Strategic Plan  Strategy  volunteer management  Volunteer Program 

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Inspiring Action While In Conflict

Posted By Edwin Greenfield, March of Dimes Canada, February 9, 2016
Updated: February 9, 2016
 Two people in conflict
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

I think one of the least inspiring aspects of life can be conflict.  That’s not to say conflict is a bad thing, conflict can be good it can give us clarity, build relationships and can inspire action.  The issue is how we deal with conflict.  The key to all conflict resolution is effective communication, and our problem-solving skills.  Our brains and bodies are wired for conflict to survive but as humans we are also wired to problem solve and collaborate. 

Conflict resolution methods are being used more and more at every level of society – in the schoolyard, in workplaces, court proceedings and global confrontations.  A growing number of schools and community groups have incorporated conflict resolution/violence prevention programs into their curriculum.

In my workshops by developing self-awareness and communication skills, we can work on the challenge and growth in conflict.  Participants learn a facilitative approach to conflict resolution. These workshops help people better understand where conflict comes from and form a solution to bring the parties together to resolve the conflict using 6 simple steps.

 

6 steps to solving a conflict or an argument;

 

  1. Identify the Problem - You have to agree to what the problem is

  2. Focus - On the problem not the person

  3. Listen - With an open mind and without interrupting

  4. Respect - Treat the person’s feelings with respect

  5. Take responsibility - For what you say and do

  6. Ask Questions - For example: “how do you see this?”

 

 

Resolving conflict isn’t an easy process, if there is a stale mate ask for a break and reconvene later when tempers have cooled, if necessary ask for help either from a colleague, supervisor or professional mediator. 

 

March of Dimes Mediation services offer Volunteer Toronto subscribers a significant discount. For information on assistance with conflict resolution, mediation, arbitration or training for your staff I can be reached at 415-425-3465 extension 7725 or via email egreenfield@marchofdimes.ca


 Edwin GreenfieldFor the past 25 years Edwin Greenfield has worked at March of Dimes Canada in various management roles in Toronto and across Eastern Ontario and has been engaged in the study of Alternative Dispute Resolution since 2007. Edwin has actively managed workplace conflicts in health care including disputes between colleagues, managers and employees and within teams with a specialty in disability and elder mediation.

As a highly effective mediator Edwin brings unique insight in dealing with conflict as a Social Worker combining his conflict resolution problem solving skills with his understanding of individuals and interpersonal dynamics.

Edwin earned a Social Work Diploma and holds an Executive Certificate in Conflict Management from the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Law. He is a member of the ADR Institute of Ontario, the ADR Institute of Canada, the Toronto and Area Chapter of the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program and the Ontario Community Care Access Centers. 

Tags:  conflict in the workplace  Conflict Resolution  how to resolve conflict  intra office issues  non-profit staff conflict 

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Meeting The Needs of Your Organization & Volunteers In Your Volunteer Program

Posted By Katie Robinette, VECTor16 Presenter, February 4, 2016
Updated: February 3, 2016
 Hand writing notes
 

Katie W. Robinette presents “Meeting Needs: The Organization's and the Volunteer's” at the 2016 VECTor Conference on March 9, 2016. Register now to choose her workshop, and check out some great tips below!


 

 We could not do this without you.

That may be an overused phrase at Healthy Minds Canada, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true. I’ll be presenting at Volunteer Toronto’s 2016 Vector Conference on March 9th where I am looking forward to sharing two examples of just how true that statement is.

In case you haven’t heard of us, Healthy Minds Canada is a national charity in the mental health and addictions space. We fund research, run conferences and workshops, offer printed and online resources, and run a daily blog.    

With a staff of two full-time and one part-time employees, we absolutely have to leverage the enthusiasm, talent, and expertise of volunteers for every single thing we do.

Chelsea Ricchio, our Communications Manager, manages our bloggers (10 volunteers!), our social media volunteers and some event volunteers and I generally manage and oversee the rest. 

To help manage volunteers, I recruit, motivate, and mentor program and project volunteers and if you’re able to come to the Vector Conference, you’ll hear me share just how we make this work for our online Bell Let’s Talk Day awareness campaign and our ACT 4 Me youth initiative.  Our Bell Let’s Talk campaign has both a National Campaign Manager and a National Campaign Co-Chair who themselves manage a team of regional team leaders and our ACT 4 Me program is run by a Program Manager and has two supporting volunteers. 

These people all donate their time, energy, and commitment to both Healthy Minds Canada and mental health in general to make a difference.  And it’s my job to ensure that they fully appreciate the enormous impact they have on both our organization and the mental health community as a whole. 

Recruiting is challenging, interviewing is time consuming, managing volunteers can sometimes take more of an effort than doing the work myself.  But the rewards, the added reach, the different perspectives, and awesome energy volunteers bring to HMC are so rewarding that days and weeks just fly by.  And it’s way more fun celebrating a successful initiative with people than all alone.   

At VECTor 2016 I’m not only looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned and how we pull these two programs off, but to learn from others so that I can keep improving, keep building, and keep motivating. Hope to see you there! 

Katie W. Robinette joined Healthy Minds Canada in January 2013 after a long career in government relations (both for-profit and non-profit) and campaigns & elections in Canada and the US. 

Follow Katie on Twitter  or connect with her on 
LinkedIn. 

Tags:  #VECTor16  communications volunteers  leaders of volunteers  networking  VECTor 2016  Virtual volunteering  volunteer coordinators  Volunteer Management 

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INFOGRAPHIC: Assessing Your Volunteer Training Program

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, February 2, 2016
Updated: February 1, 2016
 

Infographic: Assessing Your Volunteer Training program 

 


As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra James is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support. She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circles - discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement. 

 

Tags:  adult learners  Assessing your volunteer training program  How to keep volunteers  subscriber circles  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  Volunteer Toronto  Volunteer Training 

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3 Things Your Non-Profit Can Learn From Grassroots Groups

Posted By Jenn Jozwiak, VECTor 2015 Conference Presenter, January 28, 2016
Updated: January 27, 2016
 

Jenn Jozwiak presents “From Passion to Action: What Grassroots Groups Do Differently” at the 2016 VECTor Conference on March 9, 2016. Register now to choose her workshop, and check out some great tips below!


 

Ontario has a thriving community of volunteers: from film festivals in Toronto, animal rescue centres in Burlington, food banks across the province and all sorts of organizations in between, there are a variety of non-profits supported by volunteer efforts. Often, when we think about volunteerism, large agencies such as the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation may come to mind. But there are thousands of non-profit organizations operating across Ontario – and over half of them (53%) aren’t just assisted by volunteers, they’re completely run by them.

These organizations are what we’ve termed grassroots groups. In March 2015, Volunteer Toronto launched the Grassroots Growth Project to help these groups effectively manage their volunteers. After five months of research the Grassroots Growth team completed an in-depth report that outlines the unique challenges that volunteer-run non-profits face and the creative ways groups meet these challenges.

The report also identified 10 characteristics that distinguish grassroots groups from other non-profit organizations (aside from the fact that they have no paid staff!). Three of these characteristics showcase ways of doing things that might be productively applied to traditional volunteer management.


   

Grassroots groups create a supportive community for their members.

All organizations that engage volunteers work hard to support and sustain their members. However, grassroots groups completely rely on these relationships for their success, since everyone involved is a volunteer. Grassroots organizations frequently mentor each other, work together to build skills, and help one another to access other services. These supportive relationships encourage friendships within the organization and inspire long-term volunteerism.

   
   

Grassroots groups are built on community relationships.

Of course, all non-profit organizations are invested in building strong relationships within their communities. Grassroots groups, however, tend to blur the boundaries between professional and personal relationships in a highly productive way, forming working relationships out of personal community connections and developing friendships through a commitment to shared passions. Relationships are rooted in the desire to work collaboratively towards common goals, whether by partnering on particular projects or simply sharing supports and resources.

   
   

A shared mission and vision consistently motivates grassroots groups.

Non-profit organizations start with an idea of how to make things better. This is what inspires staff to join organizations, and mobilizes volunteers to lend a hand to groups they believe in. Sometimes, though, we forget the reason we wanted to do the work in the first place. Grassroots groups, on the other hand – because they remain “grassroots”  – tend to stay close to the passion that drove them from the start. Often, the people who came up with the original vision are still intimately involved in the group’s activities. Volunteers who assist the organization have an opportunity to connect with its founders. The result is that a shared mission and vision consistently links all members of the grassroots group.

 

Wondering how you might apply these characteristics to your own work with volunteers? Curious about how these approaches might benefit you? Then join me on March 9 at
VECTor, where I’ll cover strategies to incorporate a grassroots framework into more traditional volunteer coordination, and discuss in more depth the benefits to taking a grassroots approach volunteer management – at least some of the time.

  Jenn Jozwiak is currently the Education Coordinator with the Grassroots Growth project at Volunteer Toronto, where she is developing training workshops, a series of handbooks, and online content for volunteer-run non-profits. She has worked with volunteers at Hot Docs and TIFF, and established and managed her own grassroots film festival in Winnipeg. Jenn spends her days off drinking tea, watching movies, and reading about writing.

 

Tags:  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  Networking  Non-profits  Ontario  Professional Development  Toronto  VECTor 2016  VECTor Conference  VECTor Presenter 

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