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A blog for the people who manage, coordinate, and supervise volunteers. Chocked full of useful information to help you create amazing volunteer programs.

 

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So, You Want An Intern, Eh?

Posted By Melina Condren, Director of Engaging Organizations, February 16, 2017
Updated: October 6, 2015
 

Estimated reading time - 3 minutes 

Over the past few years, unpaid internships have become quite a hot topic— whether people think that unpaid internships provide good work experience or they worry that organizations are just taking advantage of free labour, everyone seems eager to discuss this growing trend. If you’re considering engaging an unpaid intern, ask yourself a few simple questions to help kick start the decision-making process:

 

Would the internship benefit the intern more than the organization?

We’ve written before about the difference between an unpaid intern and a volunteer. A volunteer offers their time with the understanding that the primary benefit is for the organization. An intern, on the other hand, should receive significant training and experience in exchange for their work. In fact, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the organization should receive “little, if any, benefit from the activity of the intern.”


Are you equipped to provide a solid educational experience?

If you’re planning to engage an unpaid intern, you need to make sure that you can contribute a significant amount of time and effort to provide an educational experience that will help the intern advance their career. This means having dedicated and knowledgeable staff who will be able to teach and mentor the intern, and having projects on the go that the intern can contribute to in a meaningful way. If you think it would be nice to have someone around to do the paperwork and fetch the coffee, an internship is not the right choice to meet your needs—or the needs of the intern.


Would the intern be replacing a paid position?

According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, having an intern replace a paid position is simply not an option. The intern’s training should not take away paid work from someone else, so setting up an internship should never be used as a money-saving strategy.

 

Here at Volunteer Toronto, we think that unpaid work in the form of volunteerism can be hugely beneficial to individuals, organizations, and communities. For individuals, volunteering can help build their social network, develop new skills, improve their health and wellbeing, and allow them to contribute to meaningful causes. For organizations, volunteers build capacity, strengthen ties with the community, and help to achieve the organization’s mission. For communities, volunteering encourages civic engagement and allows people to work together toward common goals. But unpaid interns are NOT volunteers, and it’s important to remember the distinction.

If you want someone to donate their time to your organization in a way that will be meaningful to them, add value to your programs, and help you achieve your mission, engage a volunteer. If you want to provide stellar work training and the opportunity for career advancement, consider starting an internship program or partnering with a school to provide student placements. But if you’re looking for someone to work full-time doing menial tasks for free, you may need to come up with a different plan.

 

  Melina 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:  Career  Interns  Mentorship  Unpaid Internships  Work  Work Experience  Working for Free 

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What We're Doing To Help Grassroots Groups Grow

Posted By Melina Condren, Director of Engaging Organizations, January 19, 2016
Updated: January 19, 2016
 
 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Grassroots groups are an incredible resource for communities across Ontario. They’re powered by passion and dedication to a cause—a group of people who come together in their free time to spark social change. These amazing volunteers often don’t have access to the same resources and support that larger non-profits have, so about a year ago, Volunteer Toronto set out to help them.

But we weren’t sure where to start. So we asked, we listened, and we learned some important lessons. Through focus groups, a survey, and a series of case studies, we got to know grassroots groups in Toronto and across Ontario. We learned that they’re often formed casually, when a group of friends or neighbours see a problem that needs to be solved. We learned that they’re generous not only with their time, but also with their money, since many of them are self-funded. We learned that they’re resourceful, resilient, and innovative. And we learned that they face challenges that keep them from reaching their full potential—challenges that we hope to help them overcome.

Here's only a handful of the challenges they face and the solutions we've come up with to help. 

Challenges faced by Grassroots Groups in Ontario and our solutions to help them grow 

 

All this barely scratches the surface of what we learned and how we plan to offer support. To learn more, you can read our research report, sign up for a workshop, or like us on Facebook to stay up to date on everything the project has to offer.

 

  Melina 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:  Burnout  Challenges for Grassroots Organizations  Free Access To Online Volunteer Opportunity Databa  From The Bottom Up Research Report  Grassroots  Grassroots Growth  Identifying Grassroots Resources  Isolation From Other Grassroots Organizations  Mentorship  Networking  Volunteer Recruitment 

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