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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 Adam Dias, 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.

   

Lisa Robinson, Program DeveloperLisa Robinson  is leading the research and development of Volunteer Toronto's first ever placement support program to help Torontonians that are facing barriers to achieving their volunteering goals. Whether they are new to Canada, have accessibility challenges, or find it hard to navigate computers the program is being designed to give everyone the resources they need to find a meaningful and supportive volunteer role.

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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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Little Bites: Solutions you can snack on - Episode #1 ft. Lisa Robinson on volunteer barriers

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, December 15, 2017
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Episode runtime: 14:38 minutes. 

 

Sammy here—your Training Specialist from Volunteer Toronto. I'm so excited to announce the launch of Little Bites, our new podcast for volunteer managers with 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!

On our first episode, we welcomed guest Lisa Robinson to “The Pantry” to talk about barriers faced by volunteers. Lisa is Volunteer Toronto's Program Developer, Placement Support, and is working to identify a variety of barriers then researching ways to help potential volunteers and organizations overcome them. This November, we talked about the barriers that definitely exist in the sector—you may already recognize them as a volunteer manager!

Lisa also shared what she's learned from her research across Toronto, including amazing solutions non-profits have already come up with. And we talked about how barriers can exist in your organizations that aren’t your fault, from funding to staff time – and what you can do about them. Plus, hear about what surprised Lisa most in her research (hint: these barriers aren’t limited just to volunteering), and discover just how much I know about…apparently everything! Tune in now to hear all about it:

 

 

If you want to connect with Lisa and share your experiences, challenges and successes in supporting people facing barriers in volunteering, you can reach out at lrobinson@volunteertoronto.ca or 416-961-6888 x237. 

OR 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:  Leadership  non-profit  Non-profit staff  Non-profit strategy  Volunteer Management  volunteer recognition 

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10 tips to help non-profits improve their SEO

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 15, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes | Written by Mary Walton, volunteer blogger 


As a non-profit, you've got to be easily found in order for people to access your services, support your cause or even to volunteer with you. When you're operating on shoestring budget or if you don't have the manpower for complicated marketing or outreach campaigns, improving your search engine optimization, or SEO, can help you immensely. Here are ten tips that will get you front and centre online.

 

1. Determine your target market

First of all, you need to know who you want to reach. Who are the people who would benefit from your work, and who would be willing to contribute their time or money to the cause? Now's the time to do your research and understand what your audience wants. Defining your audience and their needs is your first step, write this down so you can reflect this in all of your marketing and communications efforts.

2. Research keywords

Keywords are a vital part of your SEO strategy, and should be considered when you’re writing content for your website. When selecting keywords to use, think about what searches you want your organization to be found under. Be specific, include keywords as they would be searched and use them often to serve your website up in search results. For example, maybe you want to write about 'fundraising ideas'. You should use keywords like 'school fundraising ideas', or 'charity fundraising ideas' in your content.

3. Organize your content with headings

"Headings are useful in any piece of content you write," says SEO expert Daniel Peterson from UKWritings. Search engines will scan webpages looking for headings, and titles of pages or blogs are even more valuable when looking to improve SEO. Include keywords in your headings and don’t be afraid to have subheadings. Peterson also adds, "They help break up your work, and give scanners the ability to find what they want, quickly."

4. Don't forget about your local reach

It’s important that the community where your non-profit operates knows about your services and impact. A good way you can ensure they find you online is through creating a Google+ listing and claiming your organization’s profile. Google will then be able to easily provide your address and other important contact information to those searching locally.

5. Use anchor text

Anchor text is the content that's hyperlinked to another site or resource that you want to show your reader. If you use this well, you'll get more traffic as you'll show up in more search results. You can also use hyperlinks to direct people through resources on your own website, perhaps to the next blog that might be of interest. Use anchor text that's short, descriptive and accurate, clearly detailing what the reader is clicking into. For example, if you’re looking to find volunteer opportunities in Toronto, try searching the 600+ opportunities on our website.

6. Describe your images

Ensure that you're writing accurate captions for images on your website. These will show up in image searches, so if they're described correctly you'll be sure to have more traffic coming in.

7. Add a call-to-action (CTA)

A CTA is a direct action that you're asking your readers to take. For example, you may want to write 'Donate now' at the end of your content, or 'Click here to volunteer.' The commands should be short and to the point, asking the reader to take the next step.

8. Find out if you're eligible for a Google Adwords grant

Many non-profits qualify for a grant from Google Adwords, making it easier for you to advertise in Google searches and improve your visibility. Look into getting a grant as it can make a big difference, adding up to $120,000 of advertising value to your organization.

9. Optimize your site's speed

Websites will be ranked higher if readers stay on the page, as they'll have found something useful to them. If they keep leaving though, it may be that they're leaving before the page has loaded. Test to see how long it takes important pages on your site to load and make changes, like using smaller images, to improve the loading speed.

10. Secure your site with HTTPS

You'll want to look as professional as possible, and keep your visitors secure when they visit your website. Now's the time to secure your site with HTTPS, and look into other security measures. This is essential if you take donations online.

If you’re not currently running a HTTP connection for your website, you’ll need to purchase an SSL certificate for this level of protection. You should be able to order one from your hosting provider. Once installed, this will add the HTTPS setting to your URL which means that your content and payment transactions are protected from users with malicious intent.

Google recognizes that HTTPS is important and therefore, if your website has it, you’ll also have a much higher SEO ranking because you are proactively protecting your users and their personal and financial information.

 

These ten tips will help you optimize your SEO and bring traffic to your website. Give them a try and you may just see your hits soar!

 

Mary Walton is a writer at Australian Assignment Help service and helps with content management at OXEssays. Mary consults people on how to improve writing style and give successful presentations. She also proofreads content at Revieweal, an educational website.

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Tags:  non-profits 

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5 tips and 5 totally free tools to elevate your digital presence

Posted By Jess Gillis, November 17, 2017
 Grassroots Groups in Toronto

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes | Written by Jess Gillis, Volunteer Toronto's Communications & Administrative Assistant

 

Grassroots groups and non-profits are often strapped for resources, and it's not uncommon for volunteers, members and staff to wear many hats. Is your Kitchen Assistant managing your website? Are you tweeting two weeks' worth of content at 2 a.m. on Friday because that's the only time you have to do it?

Some say, "Never judge a book by its cover," but many of us still do. The same can be said for your online presence. Not everyone is going to care if your Facebook cover photo is badly cropped and pixelated, but ignoring comments, having impossible-to-find contact information, or being invisible on Google may cost you clients, followers and/or legitimacy. If this sounds familiar, these tips and tools are here help.

 

Five tips

Get branded

Getting branded is less painful than it sounds. Your organization's brand is essentially colours, fonts, shapes, messaging, language and–ideally–a logo that represents your mission, vision, values and voice. Even selecting colours and fonts to use consistently can improve your digital image and reputation. If you'd like to dive deeper into, check out this resource.

Have a website

Your website doesn't have to be fancy, or complicated, but it should exist. Think of it as your central hub that holds your contact information, links to your social media, information about your organization, and even a "donate" button. When you're out connecting with folks, you can simply direct them to your site. While it's not free, consider registering a custom domain for your site (they cost around $15 per year).

Get on social media

Social media can be intimidating, even for us pros. Though it can ask a lot in terms of time and energy, it also gives back, like a platform for conversation, and unique insights into your crowd. Social media platforms are super accessible to anyone with a device and wifi, and entire social movements are being built there.

Maximize your socials

Social media works best when you have a large–or a smaller, but highly engaged–network. The most effective way to achieve that (without a huge budget) are to provide the following:

  • Good quality content — Relevant to your audience's interests and the channel (e.g. GIFs on twitter, photos on Instagram)
  • Strong engagement — Responding to comments and messages, directing your audience with calls-to-action (e.g. "tag a friend who would cuddle this cute dog!"), and most important: listening to your audience so you know what they like and what they don’t!
  • Consistency — If you're radio silent for 3 weeks then post 10 things in 10 minutes on Facebook, your content will get lost and your audience will get confused. (Also, Facebook's algorithms like around 1 post per day).

Schedule!

Lastly, make a calendar like this one and plan when you’ll post certain content for your website or socials. Use your spare time to bank content (articles, links, event postings, etc.) for the week, or even the month ahead, and use an app or website (listed below) to schedule it on social media. Then, hop online during your commute or when you have a spare minute and share, retweet and respond to inquiries. Use free tools like Google docs and Trello to stay organized and communicate with your team.

 

Five tools

Canva

Canva is an accessible tool with pre-made templates for all of the common social channels, in addition to free images, clip art and fonts. They also have a wide selection of templates for printed assets, like brochures, envelopes and posters. Canva has a free option for non-profits that allows you access to the upgraded premium option for free (it's well worth it to upload your brand colours and fonts, and use the "magic resize" function).

Check out these tutorials:

Wix

Need a website? Wix is a great free option. With intuitive drag and drop functionality and hundreds of free templates and apps to choose from, its HTML-based sites are also optimized for mobile. It's also super easy to preview what your site will look like live. Click here for a quick intro lesson.

Hootsuite

This amazing tool allows you to schedule and share content to a variety of different social media channels. It also allows you to set up custom lists and channels–so you can monitor, say, all tweets about penguins–AND gives you access to data so you can benchmark your communications efforts.

Stock images

You should almost never be posting content without an accompanying image. Images draw people in and give you an additional way to tell stories and express your message. Below are five recommended sites to find stock photos:

Free Fonts

Like images, fonts also speak to your audience. Square, solid fonts may convey a message of strength and power, whereas a flowy brush script font may evoke a more free-spirited, creative vibe. These are a few tested and true sites for free font downloads:

 

Remember! You don't have to jump into every social media channel, app, or website builder right away. Some of these tips and tools may work for you, some may not. Maybe the conversation you want to have is on Twitter, or maybe you have a visual presence that would do better on Instagram or Pinterest. Start small, and build your presence as your knowledge and capacity grows.

 

Jess is the lovely voice that greets those who phone us and the smiling face that welcomes the public to our office. She also assists our Marketing and Communications Manager with the management and evaluation of our social media channels. 

Check out her website.


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Arts and culture non-profits band together to recognize repeat volunteers

Posted By Cara Eaton, October 13, 2017
 

Estimated reading time - 2 minutes. Written by Justin Ingraldi 

 

In 2015, six Toronto-based arts and cultural organizations joined forces to create a shared volunteer recognition programme called VAACT, the Volunteer Award for Arts and Culture Toronto. The main goal of the programme is to recognize volunteers who contribute their time to multiple arts and culture events and festivals throughout the year in the City of Toronto. The programme ends each year with an awards ceremony for VAACT participants. 

The idea for VAACT came from a session that took place during the 2015 edition of the VECTor conference that focused on the benefits of different organizations working together to share resources and to collaborate on various projects and initiatives.

I knew from speaking with my counterparts from other organizations that we shared a lot of the same volunteer talent. Many of our volunteers would jump from festival or event throughout the year, not only contributing to our own organization but to many others, making a substantial contribution to the arts and culture community in Toronto. We thought that this could be an opportunity for us to work together to create a shared recognition programme that recognizes and celebrates these truly committed volunteers. We launched VAACT in January of 2016 and the response from the volunteers exceeded our expectations. Over 200 volunteers participated, many of which had volunteered for all six VAACT organizations. We have since grown VAACT in 2017 to include four new organizations.

We’re excited to participate in the 2017 VECTor conference to share more about the VAACT programme, how it came it be and how it has evolved, what we’ve learned and of course, to share some successes and challenges experienced along the way.

If you're with the media and would like to learn more or attend the conference, please contact Cara Eaton.  

 

 

 

Passionate for film and volunteerism, Justin Ingraldi’s career has led him to the Edinburgh Film Festival in Scotland in 2008 and a long-standing relationship with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), first as a volunteer, then an intern, then as staff. In his most recent role as Senior Manager of the Volunteer and Intern Resources department at TIFF, he was integral in creating and developing the TIFF Bell Lightbox year-round volunteer programme in time for the institution's launch of the facility and expansion since 2010.

 


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