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Connecting The Grassroots: Building A Network Across Ontario

Posted By Louroz Mercader, Community Outreach Coordinator, June 17, 2016

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Collaboration starts with relationships; it’s all about interactions between people. Personal connections that already exist between groups and volunteers can be a great starting point, but sometimes groups need the opportunity to get out there and meet new people, identify common interests and figure out who is working towards the same goals.

 As we enter the next phase of the Grassroots Growth project, our goal is to focus on collaboration and partnerships amongst grassroots groups.  We’re building a network so groups from across the province can facilitate peer support, spark collaboration and develop strong local partnerships.

Collaborating with others can have a multitude of benefits:

The synergy created from working collaboratively will result in greater accomplishments than each group working on its own could ever hope to achieve.


The sharing of knowledge and expertise can make goals more manageable, and ensures that resources get distributed appropriately.


Avoiding Duplication
Working together can help ensure efforts and services aren’t being duplicated in the community, increasing efficiency and eliminating unnecessary competition.


Funding Opportunities
It’s become increasingly common for funders to require that two or more groups collaborate together when submitting a grant proposal. By working as a collaborative these funds can be accessed to support your initiatives.


Coming in September 2016, we’ll be launching a new online community of practice for groups across Ontario to connect and collaborate together. The website will be an online learning centre, with specifically designed content and a wiki resource directory for volunteer leaders. It will also be a space to build capacity for groups to connect with peer mentors, through a discussion forum and with "Ask Me Anything" themed chats with exceptional grassroots leaders.

Join us as we explore the theme of collaboration with our exciting panel discussion with grassroots groups and sector leaders. Click the button below to learn more. 


Grassroots Growth Panel Discussion


As Community Outreach Coordinator for the Grassroots Growth project, Louroz reaches out to volunteer-run groups in Toronto and across Ontario to help spread the word about the project and get our services out to those who need them most.

Tags:  collaboration between non-profits  community groups  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  Ontario community groups 

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10 Steps of Screening - Online Learning Sneak Peek

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, June 8, 2016
Updated: June 7, 2016
 Volunteer Toronto Sneak Peak

Screening your volunteers might require more than an interview – have you considered the risk and your duty of care? Volunteer Toronto recently launched “10 Steps of Screening,” a brand new Online Course packed with 5 pre-recorded modules on the 10 safe steps of screening every volunteer manager should know.

Now, for the first time ever, we’re giving you a sneak peek at this new course so you can try before you buy. Check it out below!



Learn more about “10 Steps of Screening” and purchase access! 

Did you know: You get access to the course for one full year AND anyone in your organization can take the course during that time?

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  Volunteer Screening 

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How to Apply the 5 Rules of Improv to Volunteer Management: What I learned at PAVRO’s 2016 LiVe Conference

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, June 3, 2016

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes


I had the pleasure of attending PAVRO’s LiVE Conference for the first time this year at the beautiful Nottawasaga Inn Resort. From May 25 to 27, volunteer managers from across Ontario came together under the theme: Today’s Vision, Tomorrow’s Reality – Retreat, Recharge, Realize. Over 3 days, we engaged in workshops that covered a range of topics from the Power of Storytelling and Workplace Safety, to Human Rights & Diversity and Servant Leadership.

However, as a first-time attendee, the most intriguing ideas came during Thursday’s lunchtime keynote from Jennifer Spear of Cleanslate Strategies. During her presentation on how volunteer managers could Lead Unscripted, she encouraged us to apply the 5 rules of improvisation to our role as volunteer managers:

1.   It’s Not About You

 In improv, what’s happening on stage is never about you, but about your co-performers and your audience .The same applies for volunteer management. The work we do is about the clients we serve, the volunteers we lead and the people we work with. Keeping the focus on them ensures we are in tune and ready to address their needs.

2.   Our Common Goal

Improv performers all want the same thing – to tell a great story that entertains and engages their audience. Volunteer Managers must lead in a way that ensures that our programs are mission-focused and aligned with other stakeholders in our organizations. Our programs, volunteers and systems must all work towards our organizations’ goals.

3.   Accept All Offers

On stage, it is the duty of every performer to accept all offers – that means saying yes to everything! Volunteer managers maybe can’t say yes to EVERYTHING, but we need to remain open to ideas and offerings from those around us. Nothing should be dismissed without thought and consideration.

4.   Yes And…

 More than just accepting every offer, improv requires that performers build on what they’re given in order to move the story forward. Being an unscripted volunteer manager means taking what volunteers offer and bringing them to the next level –incorporating great ideas and making changes to the way we work that can better serve our Common Goal.

5.   Be Present and in the Moment

The greatest challenge of improv (as far as I’m concerned) is that it requires you to be in the moment at all times. To effectively capitalize on new ideas and fluid situations, performers and volunteer managers both need to be out of our heads and in the moment. This can mean getting out of established mindsets of how things have “always been” and reacting to what is happening right now.



As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra James is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support. She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circles - discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement. 


Tags:  improv and volunteer management  new forms of volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management 

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Screening, dating or both: How to approach your volunteer interview

Posted By Lori Gotlieb, Lori Gotlieb Consulting, May 26, 2016

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Although volunteer management processes are as varied as the organizations that use them, one process that is usually consistent is the interview. This stage of the volunteer cycle is key to learning about the volunteer: who they are and how they can make a difference in a meaningful way. But standard interviews may not reveal all the unique skills and capabilities that a volunteer could contribute.

If we want to learn about what a volunteer can do for our organization, rather than whether or not they’re a good fit for a specific, defined role, we need to have an open mind to see where the conversation leads. It is your role to set the stage for the interview to encourage dialogue and comfort so the potential volunteer can feel comfortable to discuss their:

  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Motivation
  • Hobbies
  • Expectations
  • Personal goals
  • Passions

So, the question is: are we taking this time to only screen or are we allowing a conversation to start where each party learns from each other and you “get to know each other”, like on a first date?

The first date concept is more of a conversation, where both parties are exploring the opportunity to partner in a mutually beneficial relationship. These conversations are more exploratory in nature and may require another meeting to agree on a specific role or project for the volunteer.


What can you do to begin this process?

  • Build an interview process that allows for a blend of exploratory questions and basic knowledge transfer between you and the volunteer to lay the foundation of the conversation.

  • Keep the conversation going; you may identify a role for the volunteer at that meeting, but you may want to take their information and explore internally where their skills may be of greatest value

  • Be open to new ideas

  • Train those who interview to be creative and open-minded


As you start this process and grow this culture of creativity in your volunteer program, you will find that your colleagues will consider how volunteers can be an asset to their programs and reach out to you for your expertise in connecting unique volunteers to unique roles.

Hopefully this will be a beginning of a wonderful relationship!


Lori Gotlieb is the President of Lori Gotlieb Consulting as well as co-developer and faculty member for Humber College Volunteer Management Leadership Certificate. She is a volunteer management expert who provides a unique concierge service to her clients. She is also an internationally published author and workshop facilitator who has taught workshops to many diverse audiences across North America. In 2012, Lori was the recipient of the Linda Buchanan Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management. 

You can reach here at 

Tags:  how to screen a volunteer  volunteer interviews  volunteer management  volunteer screening 

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What's The Best Volunteer Management Database For You - Tips From The Bottom Up

Posted By Claire McWatt, Project Coordinator, May 19, 2016
Updated: May 18, 2016

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In our most recent workshop, Leading Beyond the Core, the Grassroots Growth team explored the vast expanse of online databases for managing volunteers. Grassroots groups, like all non-profits, have to make decisions about how to best manage their lists and online presence. New software products are coming out every day, and features change at such a rapid pace that it can be a huge challenge to keep up. So, how do you choose the right content management system? The answer is: by being a smart consumer.

Back in the day, volunteers were managed using lists and contact sheets. They were mobilized by making phone calls. Computers brought us Excel spreadsheets, scheduling apps and e-mail, making things a lot easier. In the world of Web 2.0, we’ve seen all kinds of volunteer management software emerge, with a litany of shiny new capabilities, for a wide range of prices. Today, platforms such as Volgistics, Better Impact, and so many others compete in a saturated market for our precious business.

The market has changed a lot. We now have options that integrate all the features needed to run a non-profit and/or campaign into a one-stop-shop platform. Nationbuilder, widely becoming the benchmark, is a very popular integrated option. Volunteer managers are also testing new software, like Timecounts, with the capability to send text messages and tag volunteers with a wide range of extra skills.

For grassroots groups, there are five key points to remember when considering your management needs:

1. What can you realistically afford?

Platforms range from free to thousands of dollars per month. Some bill annually, some monthly. It’s great to have everything, but your budget will be a big factor in what you ultimately choose.

2. What are the needs of your organization?

Some platforms are best for mobilizing people, others for managing memberships. The type of work you do will factor heavily into what kind of product best meets your unique needs.

3. How many volunteers do you have in total?

If you have a lot of volunteers, standalone volunteer management software may be very useful. The more volunteers you have, the more likely it is to be necessary, and the more likely you are to need one that has more fancy features.

4. What are your shift-management needs?

If you need to manage a lot of volunteers at the same time (usually for events), you may want standalone volunteer management software, or at least the free or paid add-ons available in integrated products. Further, if you need to manage volunteers across different areas, standalone software is probably best for you.
5. What is your technological proficiency?

Are you an Excel pro? Sometimes the best option is what the person using it is most familiar with. If your volunteer manager has been using one platform forever and knows it inside and out, sticking with old faithful can sometimes be your best bet.

In the end, it is most important to consider your volunteer needs, and to reexamine them often. The market changes, and so do your volunteers. Taking the time to consider whether your database is working for you, both in the larger context of your non-profit, and as it makes your volunteer manager(s) life easier, will help you stay up-to-date and on-task.



Claire leads the development of the Grassroots Growth project’s online community of practice, including the Peer Mentorship Forum and Wiki Resource Directory. She also manages relationships with Grassroots Growth partners, handles project administration, and collaborates with the Education Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator in research, training and outreach.

Tags:  Free resources  volunteer engagement  volunteer management  Volunteer Management Databases 

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Giving Volunteers Feedback - Template Thursday

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, May 12, 2016
Updated: May 11, 2016
 Template Thursday

Evaluating your volunteers and their performance can help them grow and succeed in their role. Looking for an easy way to provide feedback to volunteers? Use our free evaluation template for volunteer supervisors to provide meaningful feedback and let your volunteers know how they’re doing. Feel free to download, print or photocopy this resource, taken from our Giving Volunteers Feedback workbook, and check out our other great resources!

Keep an eye out for more free templates in the weeks to come. Click on the image to download. 


As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  Free templates  Free Volunteer Management work templates  Giving volunteers feedback  Volunteer evaluation  Volunteer Management resources 

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INFOGRAPHIC: Making the Case for Newcomer Volunteer Engagement

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, May 5, 2016
Updated: May 5, 2016

Infographic: Volunteer Recognition 


As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra James is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support. She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circles - discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement. 


Tags:  Canadian work experience  immigration  managing newcomer volunteers  newcomers  volunteer engagement 

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In Good Company: Is your workplace ready for an employer-supported volunteering program?

Posted By Volunteer Canada, April 28, 2016
Updated: April 27, 2016


Employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is increasingly prevalent as businesses recognize the positive effects it has on companies, employees and quality of life in their communities.


ESV is any activity undertaken by an employer to encourage and support the volunteering of their employees in the community[1]. In 2013, 37% of Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers, or 4.7 million, received some type of formal support from their employer[2]. Forms of employer support include: changing hours or reducing workload; allowing use of facilities or equipment to carry out volunteer activities; providing recognition or a letter of thanks; or offering paid time off.


ESV benefits everyone involved, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It is important to consider what will work for your employees. For example, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may face different challenges than a larger corporation. Understanding the values and motivations of employees at each stage of their working lives is key to effectively engage today’s multi-generational workforces. When ESV programs are aligned with a company’s business objectives, the benefits can transfer to their bottom line by way of improved employee retention, recruitment and performance.


To make your ESV program sustainable, it is important to evaluate its impact, and report that impact back to the employee volunteers.


Interested in learning more? Consult Volunteer Canada’s Canadian Code for Employer-Supported Volunteering. You can also attend Volunteer Canada’s upcoming forum, In Good Company that will feature speakers and in-depth discussions on current issues and trends in ESV.


In Good Company: A Community Building Forum for Businesses and Non-Profits will take place June 8-9 at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, Ontario.


Volunteer Toronto members are invited to register at the Volunteer Canada member price.


Click here to register.







Volunteer Canada is the national voice for volunteerism in Canada. Since 1977, we have been committed to increasing and supporting volunteerism and civic participation. We collaborate closely with volunteer centres, local organizations and national corporations to promote and broaden volunteering. Our programs, research, training, tools, resources and national initiatives provide leadership on issues and trends in Canada’s volunteer landscape.



Tags:  Ontario Employment Standards Act  Volunteer canada  volunteer engagement  volunteer management 

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Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Using Passion and Community Connections as Recruitment Tools

Posted By Jenn Jozwiak, Education Coordinator - Grassroots Growth, April 28, 2016
Updated: April 14, 2016


“One of our best members was brought on by another team member.”


“We had a friend of a volunteer who came last weekend to a workshop we were doing…and then, by the end, she was ready to sign up.”


These are the kinds of stories about recruitment that I heard this past January, when I conducted a series of video interviews as part of my position as Education Coordinator for the Grassroots Growth Project at Volunteer Toronto.

They were different from the typical tales of recruitment I’m accustomed to hearing from volunteer managers: while there were still discussions on finding skilled volunteers for particular tasks and using social media to get the good word out, there was an emphasis on local networking that made these responses distinct.

That’s because grassroots groups – defined as non-profit organizations operated entirely by volunteers – rely on connections to exist. Often, there isn’t a dedicated volunteer manager to take on the task of recruiting new team members. Instead, the responsibility of bringing on new volunteers tends to fall to the group as a whole, and everyone gets involved.

There are two elements that came out of my discussions with grassroots leaders this winter that I’d like to highlight here. Born from the need to solicit additional support while working with limited time and resources, grassroots organizations invite friends and family to join their ranks, and solidify their recruitment pitch by not really pitching at all, and instead simply speaking from the heart about projects they care deeply about.


Grassroots Groups Bring Friends into the Fold

Leadership and initial recruits tends to be comprised of the founder’s friends and family members, and so the circle remains small at the beginning. However, grassroots groups often expand organically: a member will bring a friend to an event, and the friend then joins the group. The next time a position opens up, that new member contacts their network about the opportunity, increasing the organization’s reach for potential volunteers. In this way, new connections are created. These expanded networks bring new ideas to the original group, and grassroots organizations not only gain more volunteers – they also gain access to new ways of understanding issues and solving problems.


Grassroots Groups are Built on Passion

Members of grassroots organizations are intimately linked to the ideas that drive them. Often, groups form to address a community need, and volunteers involved with the organization are directly impacted by their work. When grassroots members speak about their involvement with their organization in their communities, their personal experience is a powerful motivator that inspires others to join the team.


Of course, many grassroots groups employ traditional recruitment methods as well. However, these approaches to recruitment bolster conventional strategies by directly addressing two of the main incentives volunteers cite for donating their time to organizations: spending time with people and a shared belief in the cause. This, combined with the fact that recruitment is by default often a team effort, creates a group that is both unified and welcoming – exactly the kind of atmosphere that encourages people to volunteer in the first place.

  Jenn Jozwiak is currently the Education Coordinator with the Grassroots Growth project at Volunteer Toronto, where she is developing training workshops, a series of handbooks, and online content for volunteer-run non-profits. She has worked with volunteers at Hot Docs and TIFF, and established and managed her own grassroots film festival in Winnipeg. Jenn spends her days off drinking tea, watching movies, and reading about writing.


Tags:  Grassroots organizations  how grassroots groups recruit volunteers  how to recruit volunteers  recruiting friends  Volunteer Toronto Find volunteers  volunteering in Toronto 

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Seasonal Volunteer Planning - Template Thursday

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, April 14, 2016
Updated: April 12, 2016
 Template Thursday

Will you be recruiting volunteers for summer roles this year? If so, it’s time to start planning now. Summer camps, sports groups, festivals and events will all be recruiting volunteers for summer programming over the next couple of months—to make sure you’re on track, use our free planning resource for seasonal recruitment! Feel free to download, print or photocopy this resource, taken from our Short-Term Volunteers workbook, and check out our other great resources here. Keep an eye out for more free templates in the weeks to come.




As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  Free resources  planning for volunteers  volunteer management  volunteer management professional development  volunteer manager resources 

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4 Key Questions to Kickstart Your Mentorship Program

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, April 7, 2016
Updated: April 6, 2016

Infographic: 4 Key Questions to Kickstart Your Mentorship Program 


As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra James is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support. She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circles - discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement. 


Tags:  mentorship programs  start a mentorship program  volunteer  volunteering 

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Get To Know Some Of Our Amazing Volunteers

Posted By Ainsley Kendrick, Marketing and Communications Manager, March 31, 2016
Updated: March 30, 2016
 Volunteer Toronto Volunteers/Staff

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Every year, for one special week in April, non-profits across the country are encouraged to recognize their volunteers for their amazing contributions. National Volunteer Week is going into its 13th consecutive year celebrating and thanking those who give passionately to support their cause. Big or small, the efforts and time volunteers give is vitally important to the work non-profits do to support the community.

At Volunteer Toronto, our work focuses on supporting people on their volunteer journeys, guiding them to great organizations that need their help.  We are in the community giving presentations, offering free information sessions, organizing volunteer fairs, small and large-scale events, training sessions and conferences. We do a lot! However, our small but mighty staff couldn’t do what we do without the support of our over 60 volunteers. Yes, 60 volunteers!

From outreach presenters to newsletter editors, referral counselors to subscriptions assistants, our volunteers are working out in the community and behind the scenes making our services more accessible to all.  In preparation for National Volunteer Week, we would love to introduce you to a few of these incredible people.


Joan Janzen

Joan Janzen has been volunteering with us since 2008. She joined the team after connecting with our Outreach Coordinator at a community fair. At the time, she was between jobs and was looking for a good way to spend her free time so she decided to volunteer doing outreach presentations to the public. A project manager and communications person by trade, Joan easily fit into the role. Since then, she has moved on to table at community fairs and works with us weekly in the office performing follow-up calls to subscribers and conducting research for case studies. Joan’s bright personality and equally bright red hair are a welcome addition to our family. Without volunteers like Joan, we wouldn’t be out in the community building important relationships and connecting with future volunteers.

Nathan Liu

Nathan Liu is a grade 11 student from Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School. He joined the Youth Volunteerism Ambassadors after finding out about the opportunity through his school. He loves how this opportunity allows him to meet other youth who share his same love for volunteering. He works to spread the word about Volunteer Toronto and inspire his peers to find great ways to give back. Without volunteers like Nathan, youth would have no idea about the variety of ways they could earn their volunteer hours.  

Karima Dia

Karima Dia is a superstar volunteer. With a background in Public Relations, her talents have been put to good use helping us coordinate our Grassroots Growth launch event and Seniors Volunteer Fair. She joined the team last November as a way to practice her PR skills and also gain more experience in event planning. She was surprised to have been given the opportunity to also try her hand at volunteer management, a role she picked up quickly and performed flawlessly. Without volunteers like Karima, these special events couldn’t happen. 



Vivian Thompson

Vivian Thompson started volunteering as a Referral Counsellor back in December of 2015. She had always volunteered in some capacity, in her kids’ school or helping with their sports teams, but had yet to try more formal ways of giving back.  Her Referral Counseling role allows her to interact face-to-face with a variety of people as she helps guide them through our website to find a suitable volunteer opportunity. What surprises her most about the role is how much more she has learned about the city and the opportunities that exist to make a difference.  Without volunteers like Vivian, technological barriers would reduce our ability to support many of the potential volunteers in the city.


We love our volunteers and absolutely couldn’t succeed without them. Volunteers are the heart of every organization, so this National Volunteer Week, we encourage you to take the time to let them know how much you appreciate them and the work they do. 


Ainsley Kendrick is the creative voice behind Volunteer Toronto's external communications. She manages their website and social media channels as well as works with all departments to develop key collateral and messaging. Her mission is to reach the furthest corners of the city to let people know about Volunteer Toronto's programs and services. 

She can be reached at

Tags:  Celebrate volunteers  Legacy Awards  National Volunteer Week 2016  Toronto volunteers  volunteer recognition  Volunteer Week 

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VECTor 2016 Storify Recap!

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, March 22, 2016

Tags:  Storify  Twitter  VECTor 2016 recap  Volunteer Management  Volunteer Management Conference  What Happened at VECTor2016 

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Bringing the Grassroots Together: Maximizing Capacity for Mentorship and Collaboration

Posted By Claire McWatt, Project Coordinator, Grassroots Growth , March 18, 2016

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In grassroots groups, passion runs high, as dedicated volunteers commit their spare time to running an entire organization with very limited resources.

Limited access to resources is a problem shared not only by grassroots groups, but also by the entire non-profit sector (am I right?). It can be a major challenge to accomplish goals when stretched so thin. But for grassroots groups who have limited access to sector support and difficulty applying best practices to a grassroots context, this can be particularly challenging. Although grassroots groups find impressive ways to get crafty in a pinch, these tips are not readily available to all groups that could potentially benefit. By engaging in peer mentorship, grassroots groups can learn from each other, and share tips and tricks to facing the unique challenges of managing volunteer-run organizations.

Due to the entrepreneurial spirit of grassroots groups, often there are many initiatives operating at the same time, with similar goals and mandates. In light of this, it makes sense to explore how to foster more collaboration between groups, and build capacity for the development of partnerships and coalitions.

Collaboration can benefit groups in a number of ways, increasing efficiency, resources, support, reach, and legitimacy. However, for this to work, these partnerships need to be mutually beneficial, and that requires thoughtful preparation to ensure a smooth ride, and a strong outcome.

For more information on collaboration, check out this helpful article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, that outlines different types of partnerships and the various pros and cons.

As with a lot of sector resources, many are focused on larger nonprofits. Luckily, in the coming weeks Grassroots Growth will begin developing our Peer Mentorship strategy, specifically designed to bring grassroots groups together in our Community of Practice. This will allow for the sharing of tips, as well as tailoring of helpful approaches to collaboration to better suit the specific needs of volunteer-run groups. To learn more about how to get involved in shaping this process, contact Claire McWatt.


Claire leads the development of the Grassroots Growth project’s online community of practice, including the Peer Mentorship Forum and Wiki Resource Directory. She also manages relationships with Grassroots Growth partners, handles project administration, and collaborates with the Education Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator in research, training and outreach.

Tags:  activist groups  Challenges for Grassroots Organizations  collaboration  collaboration for Grassroots  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  improving your community group  Toronto 

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Measure Twice, Cut Once - Evaluating The Effectiveness of Your Volunteer Program

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, March 16, 2016
Updated: March 14, 2016

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

A program evaluation is a process of reviewing all or part of a program to determine how efficiently and effectively it meets its goals. While you might be evaluating your volunteers regularly, you may not be evaluating the volunteer program itself! Through an assessment of key evaluation questions and determining proposed outcomes, you can collect data to analyze the success and impact of your volunteer program.

So why bother going through all of this effort? Here are a few great ways that a program evaluation can help you improve your volunteer program:


Measure efficiency

Do you sometimes struggle with finding work for volunteers to do? Do you have too many volunteers working on the same task? Your program’s efficiency can be improved by determining the work that needs to be done and the best way to do it (how many volunteers & volunteer hours, for example).


Measure effectiveness

Do you have a long-standing program that doesn’t meet changing needs? Are your volunteers resistant to changes that can improve program delivery? Your program’s effectiveness speaks to the success of volunteers – and their work – striving towards your organization’s mission. You can improve your volunteer program’s efficacy by understanding and eliminating the barriers to success.


Measure Impact

Are you going beyond efficiency and effectiveness and making lasting changes in the lives of clients? Do you know how to measure the direct impact of volunteers on clients? Even if you know your program’s impact is already felt or understood by the people who benefit from it, you can improve and advocate for your program by properly measuring and showcasing its impact. It will motivate your volunteers by showing them their impact, help you assess an overall direction for your volunteer program, and give you proof that your program is working that you can share with funders and decision makers.


How do you conduct an evaluation of your volunteer program in the middle of everything else you’ve got going on? Let us help you get started with “From Start to Finish: Building the Tools You Need to Evaluate your Volunteer Program” on April 21. You’ll leave this full day workshop with your evaluation questions written, logic model complete, achievable and well-planned goals established, data collection methods ready to go and a step-by-step plan to interpret your data. We’ll coach you through the process and you’ll be ready to take on your program evaluation with all the tools ready to go! Interested in learning more and signing up – click here and register today!


As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  evaluation  how to be more efficient in your volunteer program  Program evaluation  volunteer management  volunteer managers  volunteer programs  volunteers  ways to improve your volunteer program 

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