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Yes, You—a Volunteer Manager—Are a Techy Person. And It’s Time to Own It.

Posted By Adam Dias, March 27, 2018
 Technology Banner

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

 

Volunteer managers wear many hats and juggle many things at once. With so many things on the go, it can seem daunting when someone—possibly an IT colleague—recommends a new tool or technology that you should learn or use.

As it turns out, I’m one of those IT people, asking you to change your password frequently and lean into the tech space.

However, all too often when I bring up ‘strong password’ rules or guidelines for keeping safe in an internet-connected world, I get the same reaction. This even happens in non-technical conversations, simply because I’m the ‘tech guy’—I’m met with a physical response that I’d like to address: It starts with recoil. A step backwards or the slow rolling of an office chair, pushed inches back by nervous feet. Then, a deep inhale and hands raised to chest height—palms out, defeated and captive, they proclaim,

“I’m not a techy person.”

My response has been finely tuned to counter this argument—if you can look up a recipe for chicken parm on your cell phone, you are, in fact, a techy person. And volunteer managers, you’re in on this too.

Sure, you may not have a strong handle on how every blinking box in your office runs, and you might not know exactly where Instagram pictures go before your friends can comment on them, but your technological prowess is deep and layered—you might just need to shift your perspective to think about it differently. Knowing this, I’d like to share some truths:

 

Truth #1: The more you become actively engaged with new technologies the better you’ll be able to connect with volunteers, empower them, and build the capacity of your organization. Submitting to the idea that you’re “not a techy person” means voluntarily staying behind the curve, which hurts your organization and makes it more difficult to help the people you want to support.

 

Truth #2: Engaging volunteers online is more important than ever—volunteers are people, and technology is overwhelmingly integrated into each of our lives. By implementing a simple technical project, you can recognize the efforts of your volunteers and inspire tech responsibility throughout your office, especially if multiple departments engage volunteers. For example, why not start a free blog on services like Blogger or WordPress to highlight achievements, sharing it on social media to spread the word about how great your volunteers are!

 

Truth #3: Engage each other through tech and have fun! Everyone in your organization will have some exposure to tech. When moving the dial on owning tech in your non-profit environment, you should arrive at a mutual agreement about each person’s roles and responsibilities. It’s not all on you! To get the conversation going, share a TED Talk at your next staff meeting that focuses on internet privacy issues. Print and display some free cyber security posters around the office to as both reminders and conversation starters—you may even start to identify gaps to fill. If you get positive responses, go the next step and host a team-building event, like a hackathon, to inspire innovation and to promote a more tech ownership focused office culture.

 

Truth #4: As a volunteer manager, you can lean on Volunteer Toronto for support when deciding what tech to use to bolster your volunteer engagement. Check out these blogs for some starter tips:

 

Taking ownership of your tech requires the same degree of effort as, say, trying to improve your diet or learning a new skill. You don’t need to have all the answers. Just remember, embracing technology and exploring its benefits will only improve your volunteer engagement—there really is no need to recoil at the mention.

With an open mindset, you can use our greatest technological achievements to take great strides as a manager and as a non-profit organization. The first step is a simple one, though it is rarely easy—open yourself to the avenues of new knowledge and experiences that technology creates.

   

When not chasing his son or getting after it on the Jiu Jitsu mats, Bill Dungey holds a leadership position with the CTSIT (https://ctsit.ca) team - an Ontario-based IT company helping non-profits make things better.

Tags:  Leadership  volunteer engagement  volunteer management  volunteer managers 

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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on – Episode #5 ft. Cara Eaton on social media

Posted By Adam Dias, March 19, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Episode runtime: 13:13 minutes. 

 

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode 5 of Little Bites is here with more Solutions you can Snack On!

At Volunteer Toronto, we know volunteer managers, like you, are busy. If you’re looking to save time, on challenges from small to big, we’ll give you tips during every episode of Little Bites. Each month I'll welcome a different guest to talk volunteer management, favourite snacks and great ideas we think you should know about. You can check back here monthly for new episodes on our blog!

Want to use social media to enhance your volunteer engagement functions? Get ready to find some buckets as Cara Eaton, Volunteer Toronto’s Marketing and Communications Manager, joins me in “The Pantry” to talk about social media platforms, writing for the right audience, and filling content buckets for your online outreach.

Whether structuring a tweet (content first, hashtag second!) or bringing in external relevance (like #InternationalWomensDay, when this episode was recorded), we discuss what you need to know to become a social media superstar. Listen now!

 

Here are some helpful tips from this episode to help you dive into social media the right away:

  • Define your content buckets for volunteer recruitment and recognition.
  • Consider external relevance, like holidays and celebrations, to connect with your posts.
  • Always bring it back to the value of volunteers in the stories you tell and content you share.
  • Refine your content for the channel and audience—who uses what platform? What will they want to see?
  • Check out these tips and tools to help elevate your online presence.

 

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites.

Thanks for listening, and keep snacking!

 

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Specialist, 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:  advice  best practises in volunteer engagement  finding volunteers  Free resources  get people volunteering  How to get youth volunteers  how to recruit volunteers  volunteer engagement  volunteer management  volunteer managers  volunteer recruitment 

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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on - Episode #4 - Heather Johnson on tools to fall in love with

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, February 15, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Episode runtime: 12:13 minutes. 

 

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode 4 of Little Bites is here with more Solutions you can Snack On!

At Volunteer Toronto, we know volunteer managers, like you, are busy. If you’re looking to save time, on challenges from small to big, we’ll give you tips during every episode of Little Bites. Each month I'll welcome a different guest to talk volunteer management, favourite snacks and great ideas we think you should know about. You can check back here monthly for new episodes on our blog!

What tools do you use to make volunteer management easier? Heather Johnson, Manager, Volunteer Program and Human Resources at Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, joins me in “The Pantry” to share our top tools and resources that you have to start using today!

We each prepared three favourites that we’ve both relied on in our volunteer engagement practice. Can you guess what they might be? Tune in to find out and you can check out our list below:

 

Want to learn more about these great tools and resources? Take a look at the links below:

  • Trello – A great visual task management tool; you can use it for free online and share it with your volunteers to give your to-do lists an upgrade
  • Slack – Like instant messaging for your volunteers; you can add volunteers as  regular users or guest accounts and non-profits can get upgrades for free
  • Google Sheets – Part of the free Google Drive apps, Sheets lets you upload and live edit spreadsheets at the same time as volunteers and peers
  • Feedback Box – Consider using SurveyMonkey for online surveys or TalkRoute for a virtual voicemail feedback box

 

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites.

Thanks for listening, and keep snacking!

 

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Specialist, 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:  best practises in volunteer engagement  Free resources  good leaders  how to be more efficient in your volunteer program  How to keep volunteers  how to motivate volunteers  how to supervise volunteers  How to thank your volunteer  innovative thinking for volunteer management  leaders of volunteers  people management  planning for volunteers  supervising volunteers  Thanking your volunteers  volunteer  volunteer coordination  volunteer coordinators  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Feedback  volunteer management  Volunteer Management resources  volunteer management software  volunteer management tools  volunteer managers  volunteer program  volunteer programs  volunteer retention  volunteer supervisors  volunteer toronto training  volunteer training  volunteers  ways to improve your volunteer program 

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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on - Episode #3 ft. Kasandra James on common questions

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, January 12, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Episode runtime: 12:26 minutes. 

 

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode #3 of Little Bites is now live with more Solutions you can Snack On!

At Volunteer Toronto, we know volunteer managers, like you, are busy. If you’re looking to save time, on challenges from small to big, we’ll give you tips during every episode of Little Bites.  Each month I'll welcome a different guest to talk volunteer management, favourite snacks and great ideas we think you should know about. You can check back here monthly for new episodes on our blog!

It’s a new year and we want to help you get started on the right note. Kasandra James, Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, joins me in “The Pantry” to answer the questions you’ve sent in and asked us time after time.

Tune in to learn about recruitment techniques, working with multiple offices/teams/chapters and the big question of police checks for newcomer volunteers. We also bring you some quick answers to help you enhance your volunteer management practice in the “Lightning Round.”

Listen now to hear all about it:

 

While you listen, here are the 3 main questions (and one of the answers for each) from this episode:

 

Q. “Recruitment can be tough sometimes for small organizations. Though we are doing pretty well with our numbers, I would like to some tips on how to recruit and outreach to new volunteers when your organization is smaller than most.”

A. Try starting internally with your connections and your volunteer's connections to find new volunteers. Word-of-mouth can help a lot!

 

Q. “My organization has chapters, and in some cases offices, all across the country. How do we encourage good volunteer management throughout my organization?”

A. Set standards for volunteer management across your organization based on the reality of roles everywhere (what works and doesn’t in each region). Communicate these standards and ensure proper training is provided.

 

Q. “I ask volunteer candidates to get police checks as part of the screening process. What do I do for newcomer volunteers who may not be able to get a police check?”

A. It's important to not forget the reasons why you need to screen volunteers – If a police check is needed as the volunteer could be working with vulnerable populations, you have to ensure this is completed, no matter what.

 

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites.

Thanks for listening, and keep snacking!

 

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Specialist, 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:  Accessible volunteer programs  Accommodating volunteers  advice  Assessing your volunteer training program  Background Screening for volunteers  barriers to volunteering  best practises in volunteer engagement  Challenges for Grassroots Organizations  find a volunteer  finding a great volunteer  finding volunteers  get people volunteering  grassroots groups  Grassroots Growth  Grassroots Leaders  grassroots organizations  how to be more efficient in your volunteer program  how to find great volunteers  how to get staff buy-in for volunteer engagement  how to get volunteers for your event  How to keep volunteers  how to motivate volunteers  how to recruit volunteers  how to screen a volunteer  how to supervise volunteers  How to thank your volunteer  How to volunteer as a newcomer  innovative thinking for volunteer management  leaders of volunteers  Leadership  Making you volunteer program accessible to everyon  networking  non-profits  not enough volunteers  people management  planning for volunteers  Police Records Checks  Police screening  supervise volunteers  supervising volunteers  volunteer  Volunteer Administrators  volunteer ambassadors  Volunteer Assessment  Volunteer assistant  volunteer coordination  volunteer coordinators  volunteer engagement  Volunteer evaluation  volunteer management  volunteer managers  Volunteer orientation  volunteer program  Volunteer Program Policies  volunteer programs  volunteer recruitment  volunteer retention  volunteer screening  volunteer screening best practices  volunteer supervisors  Volunteer Toronto Find volunteers  volunteer training  volunteer-run groups  volunteer-run organizations  ways to improve your volunteer program 

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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on - Episode #2 ft. Andrea Field on volunteer recognition

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, December 19, 2017
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Episode runtime: 15:16 minutes. 

 

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode #2 of Little Bites is now live with more Solutions you can Snack On!

At Volunteer Toronto, we know volunteer managers, like you, are busy. If you’re looking to save time, on challenges from small to big, we’ll give you tips during every episode of Little Bites.  Each month I'll welcome a different guest to talk volunteer management, favourite snacks and great ideas we think you should know about. You can check back here monthly for new episodes on our blog!

To celebrate the end of the year, we welcomed guest Andrea Field, Manager of Education and Volunteer Resources at the Bata Shoe Museum, to “The Pantry” to talk about recognizing volunteers. December is a big time of year to hold volunteer appreciation events, but why not explore the benefits of going beyond a holiday party or National Volunteer Week event and celebrate your volunteers year round!

Tune in to hear about how the Bata Shoe Museum handles recognition, and the big successes that have kept their volunteers coming back. We also talked about the ways you can get to know your volunteers and their motivations to provide meaningful recognition – even without a budget. Listen below!

 

If you just don't have time to listen, here are Andrea’s top three tips for volunteer managers in recognizing your volunteers:

  1. Find ways to recognize your volunteers outside of the organization, such as nominating them for a Volunteer Toronto Legacy Award or Ontario Service Award
  2. Celebrate your volunteers on your website and social media – they can share it with friends and jobseekers can benefit from a positive online presence
  3. Get to know your volunteers! The Bata Shoe Museum gives special recognition to volunteers who have given more than 1000 hours, how would you recognize those volunteers you really know well?

Want to learn more about the reciprocal programs Andrea mentioned? Check out the Toronto Attractions Council and the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. You can also create your own reciprocal arrangements with likeminded organizations and local businesses – just ask and discover what's possible!

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites.

Thanks for listening, and keep snacking!

 

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Specialist, 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:  best practises in volunteer engagement  Celebrate volunteers  Free resources  Giving volunteers feedback  how to find great volunteers  How to keep volunteers  how to motivate volunteers  How to thank your volunteer  how to thank your volunteers  innovative thinking for volunteer management  Inspiring volunteers  leaders of volunteers  Leadership  supervising volunteers  volunteer  volunteer coordination  volunteer coordinators  volunteer engagement  volunteer management  volunteer managers  volunteer program  volunteer programs  volunteer recognition  volunteer recruitment  volunteer retention  what kind of recognition do volunteers want? 

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9 things charities want companies to know about asking to volunteer

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, May 12, 2017
Updated: May 12, 2017
 
Estimated reading time: 1 minute

 

You’ve probably experienced it: a corporate team says they want to volunteer—all 50+ of them, this month and at the same time and place. Sounds like a great idea, but is it manageable for your organization? The truth is, probably not. So how can you marry their goodwill with a meaningful and realistic volunteer experience? 

 

This spring, Volunteer Toronto hosted a Subscriber Circle, bringing together volunteer managers from across the city to talk about best practices in volunteering in the corporate sector. Dozens and dozens of requests come in to non-profits every month asking for large groups to volunteer, often with very specific ideas on their perfect team-building opportunity.

 

For the discussion, the group was joined by special guest Elizabeth Dove from Volunteer Canada. And as they set out to tackle the corporate challenge together, what came to light were nine pieces of advice—or things companies should consider—before embarking on employee volunteer initiatives, coming right from volunteer managers, like you, who respond directly to the requests.  

 

Read Volunteer Canada’s blog on 9 things charities want companies to know about asking to volunteer to see the group’s insights from the session.

Tags:  advice  best practises in volunteer engagement  corporate volunteering  supervising volunteers  volunteer coordination  volunteer management  volunteer managers  volunteer program  volunteer programs 

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3 Common Screening Practices That Might Be Barriers To Finding Great Volunteers

Posted By Melina Condren, Director of Engaging Organizations, January 26, 2017
Updated: January 26, 2017
 Image of dictionary meaning for

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In my last blog post, I shared my thoughts on a common requirement that we see in position descriptions that acts as a barrier to lots of potential volunteers: fluency in English. I’d like to continue the discussion about reducing barriers to volunteering by outlining some common screening steps and why they might not always be the best option for finding the right volunteer for the right position.

First, I want to acknowledge that having a defined screening process and following all the necessary steps for every applicant is important. I’m not suggesting that you should skip screening steps or modify them based on the applicant’s needs, just that you should consider whether all the screening steps you’re using are actually necessary for the role. If not, you may be excluding a lot of potential volunteers.

 

Police Reference Checks:

Police checks are a very common screening step for volunteer positions, but they should only be used when necessary. In fact, it’s a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code to base selection decisions on a criminal record unless it’s a bona fide requirement of the position; to learn more about Police Checks and the OHRC, check out our online course on the subject.

Police checks can be a barrier to many people for many reasons. People who are new to Toronto won’t be able to provide a police check from the area. People may not want to disclose information necessary for a police check, such as a name change, that is completely irrelevant to the position. And really, people just may not be willing to go through an unnecessary invasive process. Police checks are important for certain positions, but if they’re not necessary for the one you’re recruiting for, skip them.

 

Professional References:

Professional references can be a good way to learn about an applicant’s work style, and their strengths and weaknesses in a work context. But for applicants who are underemployed, new to the city, new to the workforce, or retired, providing relevant professional references can be a challenge. Think about whether you can get the information you’re looking for another way. Can you ask for a sample of relevant work to judge the quality for yourself? Can you find out about their reliability through a personal reference? If there’s a valid alternative to asking for professional references, consider making some changes to your screening process to make it more accessible to people who aren’t in the workforce.

 

Phone Interviews:

Sometimes a phone interview is used as a quick, convenient way to screen applicants. Although this definitely has its benefits, it can be difficult for some people to understand what’s being said and communicate clearly over the phone. Rather than removing phone and video interviews completely, you can be more accommodating to people’s needs by offering alternatives, such as an email or instant message interview, or a quick in-person interview.

 

Screening applicants is an incredibly important process for making sure you have the right volunteers in the right positions. By making sure that you remove as many barriers as possible from your screening process, you’ll be opening the doors of your volunteer program to a whole new pool of applicants.

 

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:  barriers to volunteering  finding volunteers  how to find great volunteers  leaders of volunteers  volunteer management  volunteer managers  volunteer screening  volunteer screening best practices 

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Ways To Adapt Your Volunteer Engagement for Event Volunteers

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, December 8, 2016
Updated: December 7, 2016
 

Infographic: Ways To Adapt Your Volunteer Engagement for Event Volunteers 

 


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:  best practises in volunteer engagement  Event volunteers  Infographic  orientation  recognition  recruitment  screening  training  Volunteer engagement  volunteer management  volunteer managers 

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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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