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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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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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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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What I’ve Learned From Our High School Volunteers

Posted By Leigh Paulseth, VECTor 2015 Presenter, January 21, 2016
Updated: January 20, 2016
 
 

Leigh Paulseth presents “Recruiting our Next Leaders: Creating a High School Volunteer Program” at the 2016 VECTor Conference on March 9, 2016.  

Register now to choose her workshop, and check out some great tips below!


 

Working for an environmental non-profit organization, it is easy to feel down sometimes about the state of the world. The issues are so big and we are constantly looking for the resources to cope. How can a volunteer, let alone a teenager, possibly provide the solution? It’s simple - they provide hope.

Since the launch of our high school volunteer program two years ago, Friends of the Rouge Watershed have trained 21 youth in leadership and environmental action. They have volunteered at countless events, organized youth conferences and even gone on to run their own successful events incorporating our brand and mission. Two years ago I thought that was impossible; now I think that anything is possible. Here are a few of the lesson I’ve learned in watching these great youth volunteers develop:


You can’t do everything yourself.

Giving youth the opportunity to lead opens doors that your organization never knew could be opened.


You don’t have all the answers.

Training youth is more about sharing experiences than imparting knowledge to a younger generation. You will learn as much from them as they will from you.


We’re going to be OK.

The next generation is motivated and enthusiastic; given the opportunity, support and resources, they will make the world a better place.


Creating a high school volunteer program requires clear goals to be set by youth and the organization. Often it takes some time to set these up properly, but it is possible and the outcome is more than worthwhile. I look forward to sharing our own program’s challenges and successes at the VECTor Conference this March.


 


Leigh Paulseth is FRW’s Environmental Projects and Volunteer Coordinator. Her studies in Conservation Biology (B.Sc.) and Environmental Management (MREM) led her to pursue work in active environmental stewardship. She uses her past experience protecting private lands with land trusts to protect and restore public land in the Rouge. Leigh enjoys working with local communities to address local environmental issues both inside and outside of work. She loves to travel, canoe and is a beginner knitter.

Follow them on Twitter: @frwatershed

Tags:  advice for working with youth  attracting youth volunteers  Friends of The Rouge Watershed  high school volunteers  how to get youth volunteers  VECTor 2016  VECTor Presenter  Working with youth volunteers  Youth volunteers 

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How Non-Profits Can Recruit and Manage Skilled Volunteers

Posted By Leila MacDonald, VECTor16 Presenter, January 14, 2016
Updated: January 13, 2016
 Senior woman smiling
 


Lelia MacDonald presents “How to Recruit & Manage Professional Volunteers” at the 2016
VECTor Conference on March 9, 2016. 
Register now to choose her workshop, and check out some great tips below!


              

A skilled volunteer is a professional who offers specific expertise, for example in HR, strategy or marketing.  Unlike volunteers who help with operations, skilled volunteers help management. 

 

Why do you need a skilled volunteer?

·      Expertise that fills a gap

·      Short term (you don’t need to nurture them over time like an employee)

·      Unbiased third party (they are not tied to the ways things used to be and they don’t have pet projects)

·      Outside perspective (they are not caught up in the daily crises, so it’s easier for them to see the big picture)


 

6 Steps For Recruiting and Managing Skilled Volunteers

 

1. Recruit

Write a job description and post on:

·      Online posting boards (such as Volunteer Toronto)

·      Your own website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and through connections of your Board of Directors

·      Local companies with a large head office

·      In Toronto, MAS is a pro bono consulting charity

 

2. Understand what is in it for them

You can pay a skilled volunteer in ways other than money.  Perhaps they want to build their resume or learn a new industry.  Perhaps they want to give back using the skills they learned in their career.  Perhaps they want to see the difference they can make.  Being open about their needs will help you trust them to stay motivated and give their project the attention it deserves.

 

3. Select

Interview them like you would a prospective employee.  Check for good listening skills, easy-to-understand language, and a spirit of collaboration.

 

4. Manage

Mutually structure the relationship like a consultant.  Draw up a proposal that defines the frequency of meetings and the topics to be investigated. 

 

5. Orient your volunteer

Even if your volunteer is only around for one project, make sure they understand the mission and structure of your organization, and that they know how their work fits into the bigger picture of what you do.

 

6. Make it worthwhile

At the end, finish with a close form.  This is how you “pay” your skilled volunteer.  It gives them a sense of accomplishment and closure.  It formalizes what they can put on their resume and what you will say as a reference.



 
Lelia MacDonald is a Volunteer Consultant with MAS, a charity that gives pro bono advice to Toronto nonprofits since 1993. MAS’s 50 Volunteer Consultants in governance, strategy, marketing, HR and fundraising are professionals who give back using the skills they learned in their careers.

Tags:  how to get volunteers for your event  Ontario  Toronto  VECTor 2016  VECTor Conference  volunteer management  volunteer recruitment  volunteering 

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