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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 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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