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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.


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Why Requiring “Fluency in English” is a Barrier To Finding Great Volunteers

Posted By Melina Condren, Director of Engaging Organizations, February 23, 2016
Updated: February 23, 2016
 Image of dictionary meaning for

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

At Volunteer Toronto, we provide a lot of training and support for volunteer managers who are trying to recruit volunteers. One of the things that we always recommend is they recruit using detailed position descriptions, with specific requirements for each role. This basic strategy works wonders for people trying to find the right fit for the position, but sometimes requirements that are too narrow can do more harm than good.

One of the most common requirements that we see in the volunteer positions listed on our website is “fluency in English.” This requirement automatically shuts the door for a huge pool of applicants; applicants who may have very valuable skills, perspectives and ideas to contribute, and applicants who certainly deserve the same opportunities to be engaged in their communities as everyone else.

I won’t try to deny that being able to communicate effectively in various ways is an important part of many volunteer roles. But being “fluent” in a language is not an easy concept to quantify, and the requirement may deter people who don’t have a perfect mastery of the language, or who are volunteering specifically as a way to improve their English. Although some positions may actually require complete fluency, many others can be accomplished with varying levels of language skills. A great way to start making your volunteer program more open and accessible is to re-examine your positions to figure out exactly what language skills are required to be able to fulfill the role successfully, and then get a lot more specific in your position descriptions.

 
Ask yourself:


  • What, exactly will this volunteer be doing? What are the specific tasks associated with this role?
  • Is communication a big part of this role? If so, will it be in person, over the phone or in writing?
  • Will most of the communication in this role be spontaneous (walk-in clients with questions) or prepared in advance (written content or presentations that have been practiced)? Will it be formal or casual?
  • Is there any jargon or technical language that this volunteer will need to know? If so, will they receive training to help them prepare?

 

Once you’ve given those questions some thought, update your position descriptions. Delete “Must be fluent in English” and replace it with the skills you actually need:


  • If your front desk volunteer will be greeting clients and making them feel welcome, say “Must have good conversation skills and a friendly approach with clients.”
  • If your communications assistant volunteer will be writing blog posts, say “Must be able to write and proofread clear, concise and engaging content.”
  • If your outreach volunteer will be doing group presentations, say “Must be comfortable with public speaking and be able to clearly explain our services to a group.”

 

You may even find that some of your positions don’t have specific language requirements after all!

Not only is being specific and direct about the real requirements of the position a fairer and more inclusive way to recruit, but it will also broaden your applicant pool and help you find the best volunteer for the role. It’s a win-win situation that I can’t recommend enough.

 

Photo of Melina CondrenMelina Condren oversees all of Volunteer Toronto's services for organizations, including our training program, volunteer management conference, subscriptions program, and new Grassroots Growth project. Her priority is to ensure our services are effectively helping non-profits build capacity through volunteer involvement and continue to meet the ever-evolving needs of the voluntary sector.

Tags:  ESL volunteers  How to volunteer as a newcomer  Learning english through volunteering  newcomer volunteers  volunteer  Volunteer position description  volunteering in Toronto  writing good position descriptions 

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