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Volunteers Vote Blog #2: 8 Ways to Engage Volunteers in Local Advocacy

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 10, 2019
 Volunteers Vote

Estimated reading time: 20 minutes

 

Public involvement is an essential part of democracy. Volunteers and non-profits are powerful examples of the good that dedicated members of the public can accomplish, and when they get directly involved through advocacy they are a powerful force. Everything from small, personal conversations to direct action can have profound effects, setting in motion ripples that result in system-level change.

 

Choose a specific policy issue

The very first thing you should do is to carefully consider how you will focus your efforts. You’ll need to work with your organization’s board, staff, and program participants to identify existing needs and how they can be addressed—choosing a focus isn’t as easy as it sounds. In the context of Toronto municipal government, this may mean tracking committee and subcommittee agendas (more on this below) and flagging items that may affect your organization’s mission. Volunteers can play an important role in this brainstorming and information gathering phase.

 

Join an issue-based coalition (or two)

Effective advocacy will always include direct political action and participating in coalition-building has a strength-in-numbers effect. Coalitions can provide opportunities for volunteers to expand your reach and bring more knowledge to your team.

For example, Social Planning Toronto has a number of coalitions; the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care does exceptional work. Research potential coalitions that your organization can join and make a strong case to your senior leadership by connecting membership with your strategic priorities. Participate in 'call to actions' and make sure your volunteers are informed of upcoming activities.

 

Tell powerful stories

The lived experience and personal expertise that your volunteers can bring to bear is the most powerful tool available to you—more than any amount of statistics or evidence. These powerful stories should frame your advocacy but you also shouldn’t allow them to stand alone. Being clear in what change you are asking for and supporting, not overshadowing, your stories with informed data is vital to representing yourself as well as possible.

 

Create great content

The importance of your message means very little if others aren’t drawn to it. Every great campaign has to have some creative element that grabs attention captivates your audience. Spending time mapping out your capacity and strategy for creative design will be well worth the investment in the long run. You don’t need a fully branded promotional suite—a few simple graphics, slogans, or flyers can go a long way—but strong design will set you apart from the crowd and attract interest from decision makers. Creative direction and content support can be popular opportunities for volunteers looking to flex their leadership skills and imaginations.

 

Find your political champions

Being strategic when you reach out to your local representatives will help you make closer connections and create champions for your cause. By doing your research ahead of time you’ll have a better about what issues are most important to them and how to best connect them to your issue.

When meeting with a representative be prepared by knowing, specifically, what you will be asking of them, and how you can be of help to them in return—the more specific you are able to be, the easier it will be for them to carry out your request. 

 

Provide opportunities for volunteers to depute to committee

Making a deputation is when a resident exercises their right to be heard in front of committee or subcommittee, either by speaking in person or submitting a written statement to Toronto City Council members. Deputation allows you and your volunteers to go on record stressing the importance of your issue to elected officials.

There are some steps to take before deputing to committee however. First off, you need to identify the right committee for your deputation and get on the speakers list. Then, it’s usually a good idea to notify your councillor that you’ll be speaking and send them a copy of your deputation. Lastly, Speaking to committee is empowering but it can also be scary, the more speaking practice you can fit in the more comfortable your volunteers will feel.

 

Email, call, repeat

Every advocacy campaign needs some form of digital infrastructure that allows residents to share content with their own networks while also engaging with elected officials. Many non-profits don’t have the capacity to set up elaborate digital tools but that isn’t necessary. You can accomplish a lot with a basic package that includes a draft letter with specific requests and a list of elected officials along with their contact information.

The more you can empower folks to engage with their local representatives and demand meaningful policy change, the better. Emailing is convenient and can be very effective but if you really want to grab their attention, never underestimate the power of a phone call. 

To get you started, here are some lists of Toronto City Counsellors, Members of Provincial Parliament, and Members of Parliament.

 

Show up for the vote

Nothing speaks louder than a Council Chambers packed with residents. While the public don’t give deputations at City Council, your presence in the stand can be felt by elected decision makers. You won’t be able to bring in signs or banners, but you can encourage your volunteers and advocates to wear t-shirts, scarves, or other clothing of a certain colour to make you easily visible to elected representatives and the media. Invite newer volunteers to join you as a way of getting to getting to know you organization better and the issues close to you.

 

This was a guest blog by Lisa Brody Hoffman, Director of Community and Public Relations at Councillor Wong-Tam's office.

   

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Volunteers Vote Blog #1: A New Way to Make Our Communities Stronger: How to get your charity involved in advocacy

Posted By VolunteerToronto, September 25, 2019
 Volunteers Vote

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

 

A year ago the Supreme Court decided that charities, and their volunteers, should play a bigger role in their communities—they allowed charities to advocate politically for their causes and clients.

Advocacy is a new tool to help charities achieve their goals. A charity that runs an out-of-the-cold program to help homeless people can now also advocate for long-term housing programs and a soccer club can advocate for field clean-up and maintenance.

This change is particularly exciting because charities are so well positioned to be effective advocates. Charities are trusted by the public more than nearly every other group. They have amazing networks, built up over time by working within their community. And charities often work at the grassroot level—they know what is affecting their communities and which issues need to be raised.

Advocacy work is very exciting, but it can be hard to know how to start. Here are some tips to get you started the right way: 

 

Do your research 

First and foremost, advocacy is about getting specific decision makers to act. To succeed, it’s important to understand the decision maker you’re trying to reach and what they find compelling. Visit their website and do some research to find out what issues they care about and what they’ve said to the media. Connecting your mission to issues they care about is a powerful way to create traction.

 

Develop relationships

Like everyone else, decision makers respond best to people they’re familiar with. Getting to know them and letting them get familiar with your organization before asking something of them will make your work easier down the line. Inviting local politicians and decision makers to your events and visiting their offices takes a little bit of effort, but will pay off big later.

 

Get personal

It can be tempting to send staff members to present data and statistics when trying to make your best case, but politicians usually respond best to the everyday voters that make up their constituency. Having volunteers and clients share real stories about their experiences will speak volumes and mean more than statistics ever will.

 

Follow the rules

It’s important to understand that while advocacy is a powerful new tool it still falls within a set of rules. Your advocacy has to fit within your charitable purposes. You should remain non-partisan—it’s okay to talk to politicians and raise public policy issues, but don’t promote a particular party or candidate. And you must register if you’re going to lobby provincially.

 

This was a guest blog by Sean Meagher of Ontario For All. If you want to learn more about how advocacy can help your charity reach its goals, you can find more tools and tips at www.ontarioforall.ca. And feel free to get in touch by email at ontarioforall@gmail.com or by phone at (416) 820-7889.

   

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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on – Episode #11 Season Finale

Posted By Adam Dias, September 12, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 3 minutes. Episode runtime: 13:14 minutes. 

 

Now on iTunes!

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode 10 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.

It’s our season finale! In this episode, we take a look back at some of the best tips from the last 10 episodes of Little Bites. From barriers faced by volunteers to volunteer management software, take a listen to some of the biggest topics from a year’s worth of episodes:!

 

This episode features highlights from five past episodes, you which you can listen to here:

  • Episode 1 – Barriers faced by volunteers, with Lisa Robinson from Volunteer Toronto
  • Episode 2 – Year-round recognition, with Andrea Field from Bata Shoe Museum
  • Episode 5 – Social media for volunteer programs, with Cara Eaton from Volunteer Toronto
  • Episode 6 – National Volunteer Week special, with Adriane Beaudry from Heart and Stroke Foundation
  • Episode 9 – Volunteer management software

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.


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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on – Episode #10 The Dismissal Episode

Posted By Adam Dias, August 13, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 3 minutes. Episode runtime: 13:14 minutes. 

 

Now on iTunes!

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode 10 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!

How do you fire a volunteer? This question comes across my desk more often than you might think—so I’ve asked Camara Chambers, Volunteer Toronto’s Executive Director, to help me explore the answer.!

In this episode we look at the different roles people play in the volunteer dismissal process and how to create a dismissal policy that is both effective and appropriate. Dismissing a volunteer is challenging, but when it’s necessary having a good policy in place helps everyone involved. Tune in to learn more:

 

As we discuss in this episode, it’s important that you:

  • Have your dismissal policy in place before you need it. Check out our policy for ideas and inspiration.
  • Stick to your policy. Follow through on the warnings, documentation, and grounds for immediate dismissal that it describes.
  • Have another person in the room during dismissal meetings.

 

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites. Did you know? Little Bites is now on iTunes!

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.


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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on – Episode #9 Volunteer Management Software

Posted By Adam Dias, July 17, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 3 minutes. Episode runtime: 9:56 minutes. 

 

Now on iTunes!

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode 9 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!

One of the most common questions we get is about choosing the right volunteer management software. After months of research, outreach and connecting with volunteer managers, we’re happy to announce our new free Volunteer Management Software resource, available now!

In this episode, I respond to questions from different volunteer managers about finding the right tool to meet their need. Listen now to hear about the various factors to consider when choosing a platform, from cost to volunteer numbers to software function. Plus, get my recommendations for a few specific cases too!

 

As I explore in this episode, you want to think about what you need your volunteer management tool to do, including:

  • Scheduling volunteers (and allowing volunteers to choose shifts)
  • Messaging and communications
  • Sign-up, applications, and profiles
  • Check-in kiosk and hours

Our resource will break down the expected costs and use cases, but don’t forget that some features, like website integration and data migration, may have an additional cost.

 

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites. Did you know? Little Bites is now on iTunes!

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.


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Are You Ready for the New Police Record Check Changes?

Posted By Adam Dias, July 3, 2018
 Police Check Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

 

Criminal record checks are changing this November and it’s important to stay updated so that you can get the information you need to protect your staff, your volunteers, and the people in your care. We’re here to walk you through why and how police record checks are changing and to make sure you’re ready for the shift.

 

Why change police record checks? 

 

Three years ago the Police Record Check Reform Act was passed, detailing the changes that we’re now facing—this November it will come into full effect, being enforced and standardized across the province. The act was created for three main purposes—to introduce a new option for police record checks, the criminal record and judicial matters check; to protect the privacy of those being checked; and to standardize the record check process and the information available across the province.

 

How are the record checks changing?

 

Criminal record check: The most basic form of record check, the criminal record check will go unchanged. It will continue to contain a criminal conviction summary from the local and national database as well as any finding of guilt under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

 

Criminal record and judicial matters check: A new addition to the available options, this check expands upon the criminal record check by also including any absolute discharges from the last year, conditional discharges from the last three years, outstanding charges and warrants, and any court orders that have not been withdrawn and were not made under the Mental Health Act.

 

Vulnerable sector checkThe most comprehensive check available, the vulnerable sector check will include all of the above information as well as any convictions with findings of “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder” from the last five years.

The vulnerable sector check will no longer include any non-conviction information unless it has been authorized for exceptional disclosure. Non-conviction information will be given if the police check provider has reasonable cause to believe the individual presents a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable person and when the alleged victim was a child or vulnerable person.


Want to make sure you’re getting the most accurate picture of your applicants? Join me at our next workshop on July 19 to learn more about police checks and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Register now!

   

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:  Background Screening for volunteers  how to screen a volunteer  Personal Information Protection  Police Records Checks  Police screening  volunteer management  volunteer managers  Volunteer Police Records Checks  volunteer program  volunteer recruitment  volunteer screening 

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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on – Episode #8 ft. Aly Velji on working within the system

Posted By Adam Dias, June 13, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 3 minutes. Episode runtime: 13:36 minutes. 

 

Now on iTunes!

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode 8 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!

I often hear from organizations of all sizes asking for help maintaining their volunteer program effectively across multiple chapters, branches, departments, and locations. All these moving parts and the associated bureaucracy can give you a headache, but an expanded program also offers opportunities for unique solutions. In this episode, I’m joined by Aly Velji, Manager of Adult Literacy Services for the Toronto Public Library, to discuss how he keeps an organization with 2700 volunteers and 100 locations running smoothly.

Listen now for solutions to the difficulties that can arise from staff turnover, disjointed programs, and other surprising barriers. Plus, Aly and I discuss next steps you can take to make your volunteer program succeed at any size. Listen now!

 

As we discussed in this episode, it’s important to:

  • Understand your organization’s unique structural issues.
  • Standardize practices so that they can work throughout your organization.
  • Stay in constant communication with any staff who manage or lead volunteers using digital tools, staff meetings, training sessions, and any other way to keep everyone up to date.
  • Consult with any staff involved with leading volunteers—and some volunteers themselves—before you make changes that affect your entire program.

Looking for more tips? These blogs about volunteer management assistants and talking to leadership about volunteer impact are great places to start on your path toward standardized practices and an improved volunteer program. And don’t forget to check out the Toronto Public Library’s Volunteer Programs page to get a better understanding of what Aly is talking about in this episode.

 

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites. Did you know? Little Bites is now on iTunes!

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:  people management  volunteer coordination  volunteer management  volunteer program  ways to improve your volunteer program 

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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on – Episode #7 ft. Melina Condren on outcomes and impact

Posted By Adam Dias, May 15, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Episode runtime: 11:30 minutes. 

 

Now on iTunes!

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode 7 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!

How do you know your volunteers are making an impact? In this episode, I’m joined by Melina Condren, Director of Services for Non-Profits here at Volunteer Toronto—also our resident expert on collecting and using hard data for program evaluation.

Listen now to learn more about how to determine your program’s strengths and weakness. Discover the differences between output, outcome, and impact—even learn why surveys aren’t always the best tool for data collection. Listen now!

 

As we discussed in this episode, it’s important to:

  • Set the goal of your evaluation from the beginning—what do you want to find out?
  • Identify your program’s targets—clients, volunteers, stakeholders, or all of the above.
  • Decide on the tools you’ll use to collect data and what you’ll do with the data once you’ve collected it.

Check out our online Volunteer Program Evaluation course to learn more about how to launch your very own evaluation!

 

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites. Did you know? Little Bites is now on iTunes!

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:  Assessing your volunteer training program  volunteer management  Volunteer Management resources  volunteer management tools  ways to improve your volunteer program 

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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on – Episode #6 ft. Adriane Beaudry for our National Volunteer Week special!

Posted By Adam Dias, April 16, 2018
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Episode runtime: 15:02 minutes. 

 

Now on iTunes!

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. Episode 6 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!

It’s National Volunteer Week! While you and your organizations celebrate your volunteers, I’m joined by Adriane Beaudry, Manager, Volunteer Engagement Strategy at Heart & Stroke to discuss the role of National Volunteer Week and where volunteering is going in the future.

Listen in to hear about the ways organizations should prepare for the needs of Generation Z and go into the future with a “yes we can” attitude. Plus, learn a bit more about the history of National Volunteer Week and the different ways you can help to create a culture of celebrating volunteers year round. Listen now!

 

As we discuss in this episode, volunteer recognition is an important part of your organization’s culture and it’s the role of everyone to understand and appreciate volunteers year round. Volunteer Canada’s 2013 report on Volunteer Recognition explores this in more detail. We also explore the growing trend of informal volunteering, explored in Volunteer Canada’s 2017 report on Individual Social Responsibility. By planning and preparing today, organizations can be ready for the new generation of more informal volunteers tomorrow!

 

Do you have a pressing question you want answered on air? E-mail me at littlebites@volunteertoronto.ca or tweet @VolunteerTO with #VTlittlebites. Did you know? Little Bites is now on iTunes!

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  How to thank your volunteer  leaders of volunteers  Leadership  supervising volunteers  volunteer engagement  volunteer management  volunteer recognition  volunteer retention  Volunteer Week  what kind of recognition do volunteers want? 

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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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Communities of Care: Supporting volunteers living with mental illness

Posted By Lisa Robinson, March 1, 2018
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

 

I’ve had a complicated relationship with self-care. While I agree that everyone should be caring for themselves, I also know that self-care can turn into as much of a burden as it is a tool.

What if instead we create communities of care rather than letting care be an individual responsibility. By engaging in a support structure—forming social bonds and being available to each other—we can help to make sure that no one slips between the cracks.

As volunteer coordinators and managers, we have the opportunity to form these communities of care. Sometimes the difference between feeling alone in caring for your mental health and feeling like you have a team behind you can be astounding.

So how can you, as a volunteer leader, create a community of care?

 

Change the conversation

Rather than asking how someone is caring for themselves let’s ask how we can care for each other. By shifting the conversation to focus on mutual care we can form stronger bonds and work towards powerful support networks. We’ll all be healthier for it.

Talk one-on-one

If a volunteer seems off, then ask them how they’re doing. Trust your instincts, if you think a person’s behaviour or mood has changed it’s worth checking in on them. Reaching out can make all the difference.

Talk as a group

Start each shift with a group check-in. Consider everyone’s energy level and see how people are feeling, both emotionally and physically. Be open and authentic with what you share so that you set the tone for everyone else to share comfortably.

Know that you won’t make it worse.

Don’t be afraid to start the conversation with your volunteers, people will often avoid bringing up an issue themselves because they are worried about being bothersome or upsetting. You will only improve the situation by asking about it. In fact, if your volunteer is dealing with mental illness they may be isolating themselves from many other support systems. You might be the only other person they’ve seen that day. So ask, always ask.

Accept your limitations

We’re all human, we all struggle. It’s okay to say that you don’t know how to help someone but that you see them and you care. It’s not your job to have all the answers—it’s your job to support your volunteers, and I bet you’re pretty great at that already.

 

As you begin to build your community of care remember—the better we support each other the better we can serve our communities. Looking for more information about helping your volunteers be all they can be? Check out the Supporting Volunteers: Motivation, mentorship, and management course in our online learning centre.

   

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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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