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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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INFOGRAPHIC: Are Your Policies & Procedures Following The Rules?

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, January 26, 2016
 Ontario legislation, Ontario Human Rights Code, Ontario Employment Standards Act, Personal Information Protection, Electronic Documents Act, Occupational Health & Safety Act, AODA, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Canadian Ant-Spam Legislation
  As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support.
She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circle 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:  Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act  AODA  Canadian Ant-Spam Legislation  Electronic Documents Act  INFORGRAPHIC  Occupational Health & Safety Act  Ontario Employment Standards Act  Ontario Human Rights Code  Ontario legislation  Personal Information Protection 

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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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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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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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What Makes A Great Volunteer?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, January 12, 2016
 
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes  

 

Volunteers all come with great qualities and skills, but occasionally you come across someone who is the perfect fit for the role you have and who continues to wow you time and time again. Someone you acknowledge and appreciate as being a fantastic volunteer. So what qualities are universal to great volunteers?

 

Enthusiasm

A volunteer who is enthusiastic and positive about their tasks and responsibility is often a pleasure to work with. We all know most roles have an unglamorous side to them, whether it’s lugging boxes at an event or cleaning up after five-year olds at an after-school program. A great volunteer will have the same enthusiasm whether they’re doing their favourite part of the role, or a task that is a little mundane.

 

Initiative

A great volunteer will make an effort to know their role and responsibilities well, and won’t hesitate to go a step beyond what the role entails while respecting boundaries, protocol and the expectations of the organization. They’ll proactively seek ways to improve their work, apply their strengths to the tasks and work on their weaknesses. They may even go a step further and make innovative suggestions for changes that will improve how your organization works.

 

Professionalism

Volunteers are often representatives of your organization and to external stakeholders like service users, they may assume a volunteer is a member of staff when they see them in a position of authority. That’s why it’s always great to find a volunteer who really understands professionalism; everything from suitable dress code to appropriate demeanour.

 

Reliability

An exceptional volunteer will recognize the importance of trust and reliability, and will make an effort to turn up when they should and be on time. Of course, life happens, and they may occasionally have to cancel, but if they do, they’ll let you know with as much notice as possible. In short, you’ll never question their commitment to the role!

 

At Volunteer Toronto, every day we hear tidbits about volunteers across the city with all of these traits, making Toronto a city we’re proud to live in. Our annual Legacy Awards began in 2011 and shine a light on 25 special volunteers who are great volunteers and have made an exceptional contribution to their community. We are accepting nominations for the 2016 Legacy Awards until 5pm on Thursday February 4th. If you know someone who deserves an award, click here to nominate them!

Camara Chambers manages Volunteer Toronto's public engagement strategy and team. This includes working with community partners, leading large-scale events and overseeing various programs that aim to encourage Torontonians to volunteer. In 2014, the community engagement team helped connect 550,000 people to volunteer positions in Toronto!

Tags:  best volunteers  find a volunteer  finding a great volunteer  good volunteers  happy volunteers  how to be a great volunteer  Ontario  Toronto  volunteer  Volunteer positions  volunteer recognition  volunteers 

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Be Prepared: Answers To The 5 Most Common Excuses Non-Profit Staff Use To Avoid Engaging Volunteers

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, January 6, 2016
 

 Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

 

It’s a new year and you’re thinking about growing your volunteer program– more volunteers means more impact right? Well, before you get more volunteers on board, consider how that will affect the staff of your organization! Getting staff buy-in for volunteer involvement is an important step to ensuring a successful volunteer program. You might face some resistance getting volunteers–or more volunteers–engaged in your organization. Here’s a few helpful tips to help you respond to the 5 most common excuses non-profit staff use to avoid engaging volunteers:

 

It’s more trouble than it’s worth”

Volunteers bring great benefits to:

       The organization by increasing the number of work hours, skills & perspectives contributing toward achieving your mission

       The community by potentially improving the quality and types of services you provide

       The volunteers by providing valuable experience, skills and a sense of community

       The staff by teaching them supervision and management skills along with more resources available to the staff team

 

“I don’t want someone else to do my job”

 Volunteers shouldn’t be brought into do the same work as paid program staff; they should supplement that work by adding value for clients & the organization. Staff can even help create volunteer roles based on their support needs!

 

“I don’t know how to work with volunteers”

You may need to provide training for staff on some elements of volunteer management, but the added benefit is that this training will give staff a better understanding of the value of volunteer engagement.

 

“I don’t have the time”

Staff shouldn’t supervise volunteers unless it’s in their actual job description, so it should be built into the plan for those individuals’ time. Senior leadership should also provide support to these staff to develop management skills and recognize their contribution.

 

“We don’t really need volunteers”

Remember your organization’s mission – if the strategic and work plans include volunteers to achieve your goals, then the benefits are clear and volunteers should be brought on board!

 
It may be difficult to get staff to buy-in to volunteer involvement – being prepared with answers to their comments can be a great start. You should also consider providing training for your staff about the volunteer program; if you don’t know where to start, try using the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement as a guide.

If you really want to get a head start on getting staff ready for volunteers, check out Volunteer Toronto’s On-Demand Training program. Our knowledgeable and dedicated trainers will come to your space to provide training on specialized topics for an affordable price! 

 
As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy 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:  How to convince staff they need volunteers  how to get staff buy-in for volunteer engagement  volunteer leaders  volunteer management  volunteer programs 

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5 Tips For Securing Grants

Posted By Rui Miguel Martins, Volunteer Guest Blogger, December 16, 2015
Updated: December 15, 2015
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

 

For many non-profits, grants are crucial to delivering their programs and services, and for some, it is their primary source of funding. However, the process of applying for grants can often seem complex and overwhelming. Anne Morais has over 15 years of experience in writing successful grants, and she shared her knowledge and expertise to a group of non-profit leaders.

The discussion was part of Volunteer Toronto’s Trailblazer Series, a set of leadership talks geared towards people who run grassroots non-profits. Our guest blogger, Rui Miguel Martins, provides a summary of the 5 Tips for Securing Grants.

Seek Tri-alignment

There needs to be perfect alignment between the organization, intended beneficiaries and the grant makers. It is always important that the program aligns with the agency’s mandate. And at the same time, it must align with the needs of those you are looking to help.  Non-profit leaders should remember that the program is about the needs of those they serve and not the needs of their organization.  And finally, it should align with the priorities of the grant maker.


Create A Clear and Consistent Program Design

It is important to establish a clear objective. Construct a detailed description of what you want to accomplish, and how you are going to do it. Grant makers need to understand how their money is going to benefit those in need. Remember the outcome is the most important part of the process. It needs to be results based and not theoretical. Government programs will ask for long-term, mid-term and short-term outcomes. A good idea is to find a clear example of how a similar program has yielded positive results.


Use Clear, Consistent and Collaborative Writing

"For grant writing, the greatest tool you have is words,” Morais says.  Your words need to reflect both clarity and thought. Assume that the person you are writing for knows nothing about the sector. Limit the number of ideas to one paragraph each. Do not use weak verbs like “I look to”, rather use “I will.” Always remember that the goal is to solve a problem, so consistency in all aspects is very important.  It is also a good idea to incorporate the grant maker’s language and vocabulary as much as possible.


Establish Partnerships

Keep an open mind to partnerships. Collaborating demonstrates that you are solving the problem. Partnerships can work on many levels, including fundraising, service provision or promotion. Start thinking about partnerships before writing the grant. Look at where you need help. Be open to working with for-profits, governments and local groups, in order to get things done. "It is about identifying what you do well and what you don’t do well, and finding a solution,” Morais says.


Create a Good Budget for the Project

Design a budget that is realistic and practical. It needs to be reasonable and cost-effective from the point of view of the grant maker. Ensure the math is right. Grant makers often provide their own budget form, so it is important to follow the guidelines. Do your research beforehand.; most grant makers have specific parameters when it comes to certain costs, like administration, which is usually between 12-15% of the budget.


To find out more about writing great grant proposals, visit Anne Morais’ website

 

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:  Grant writing  how to apply for funding  how to find funding for your non-profit  how to get grants  non-profit funding  non-profit grants 

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How Do YOU Inspire Action?

Posted By Melina Condren, Director of Engaging Organizations, December 10, 2015
Updated: December 10, 2015
 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 

Inspiration is an important part of any volunteer’s journey. It’s what makes people want to give back to their community and what motivates them to stick around, week after week, giving their time, energy and skills to a good cause. As its title suggests, this blog is all about inspiring action—and so is our upcoming conference for volunteer managers!

The schedule has just been released for VECTor (Volunteering, Engaging, Connecting Toronto) 2016, and the common theme across all workshops, panels and discussion groups is 'Inspiring Action'—how to get volunteers interested, keep them motivated and make sure you have a dedicated, driven team. We’ll hear from our amazing VECTor presenters in the months to come, but to get you thinking about inspiring action in your volunteer program, let’s take a closer look at what you can do in the months ahead.  


Tell the Volunteer Story

Nothing is more inspiring than hearing about regular people doing amazing things. Learning about your current volunteers’ impact can help potential volunteers picture themselves in the role and gain confidence in their ability to have an impact in your organization. Check out our Volunteers of Toronto site for examples of inspirational volunteer spotlights.


The Mission is the Message
 

According to the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement, volunteer programs should have a mission-based approach. That means that all of your volunteer positions should be clearly linked to your organization’s mission, so that volunteers can easily see how they’re making a difference and helping others.


Share Volunteer Impact 

The best way to make sure that initial inspiration doesn’t quickly fade once volunteers are faced with the realities of their work is to share with them the impact of the role. Make sure you track volunteer contributions and measure program outcomes to be able to tell volunteers exactly what it is they’re helping you accomplish.

The common thread among these three inspiration strategies is that volunteering—freely giving your time to benefit people who need your help—is inspirational in and of itself! Highlighting that through volunteer stories, mission-based roles and volunteer impact statements can help people understand how valuable volunteering can be, for themselves and for their communities.

Want to learn more about inspiring volunteer action? Check out the VECTor 2016 website and stay tuned for Registration to open in January 2016!

 
 
  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:  get people volunteering  how to motivate volunteers  Inspiring volunteers  supervise volunteers  volunteer action  volunteer management  volunteerism  ways to volunteer 

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Three Tips For Training Adult Learners

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, December 8, 2015
Updated: December 7, 2015
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

 

Orientation and training is vital for all volunteers to meet the responsibilities of their role and perform their duties effectively and safely. Without a proper orientation, your volunteers can’t serve as ambassadors for your organization, and without training specific to their role, your volunteer may not be meeting the needs of the community in their work!

Many of the volunteers you’ll be engaging will likely be “older learners” – this means they’re no longer in a formal learning environment (school or post-secondary education). Are you prepared to provide orientation and training for these types of learners? Adults learn in different ways, and it might have been a while since their last formal training experience. They may not be familiar with the etiquette or appropriate behaviour, and they may not have the same skills to retain knowledge!

If you want to make sure you’re providing effective orientation and training for your volunteers, take note of these helpful tips for teaching older learners:


Keep Training Practical

Keep training practical with a variety of techniques (discussions, quizzes, role play) to empower your volunteers to learn by doing and cover more information faster.

Understand Different Learning Styles

Your volunteers may be visual learners, preferring to see what they’re learning to understand it, or auditory learners, preferring to be told or hear something to learn it. There are also verbal, physical, logical, social and solitary learners!

Anticipate Needs

Volunteers may be more engaged knowing there’s food on the way, or a pot of coffee ready. Others may want multiple breaks to stretch, move around, or even socialize. Consider if you’ll allow volunteers to be checking their phone or e-mails, or if they’re able to leave the training session at any time.

 

Want to make sure you’re providing the best orientation and training for your volunteers – including your older learners? Our Volunteer Management Basics: Orientation & Training is a FREE course for Volunteer Toronto subscribers, and is also free with the purchase of any of our paid courses. Along with more details about teaching adults and older learners, you’ll learn more about planning your orientation, providing great training and ensuring inclusive, accessible and effective facilitation.

Not a Subscriber? Learn more about our great subscription program. Want another way to get access to our free courses? Check out our paid courses – any paid course comes with full access to all free courses!

 
As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy 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:  adult learners  free online learning  learn differently  learning styles  online learning  volunteer orientation  volunteer training 

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