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7 Grassroots Groups You Need to Follow in Toronto

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, March 24, 2017
Updated: March 24, 2017
 Grassroots Groups in Toronto

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Fuelled by pure passion and little-to-no-money, grassroots groups across Toronto are challenging the status quo. These community collectives are completely powered by volunteers and are calling for positive social change.

But who are they?

Volunteer Toronto has spent two years trying to find out, and by doing so is working to increase their capacity and community impact. Here are 7 grassroots groups that are driving social change in the 6ix:


1.   CivicTech Toronto

What do you get when you combine the tech-savvy and the socially conscious? A group of powerhouse digital entrepreneurs, set out to improve government policy for the greater good. Designers, urban planners, politicos, web developersthis grassroots group unites to take on civic challenges through weekly hackathons.


2.  Mornelle AllStars

Scarborough is a little brighter, and safer, due to the Mornelle AllStars, a group of tireless volunteers who are driving programming in their neighbourhood to make things ultimately safer. Need a walk to-or-from school? After-school programming? A shoulder to lean on? This grassroots group is here to help.


3. Fix the 6ix

What can you really buy with less than $5 in Torontothe truth is, very little. But many small things contribute to a greater good. This grassroots group is collecting your digital loose change and converting it into social change. Fix the 6ix will take the last bits from those random gift cards and combined with others, they will put it towards food, clothing and other items for shelters across the city.


4.   Shelter Movers of Toronto

Helping others flee abusive living situations is the goal of Shelter Movers of Toronto, who work tirelessly to relocate victims that need a safer space to call home. This group of volunteers offer free services, working collaboratively with victim service agencies, shelters and law enforcement to make a difference.


5.   Queers for Dinner

Nothing brings people together quite like a good meal. Queers for Dinner is doing just that: building friendships, fostering a sense of community, and belongingone bite at a time. They put on hugely successful events at great local restaurants, creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ folks and allies.


6.   Repair Café Toronto

Take recycling one step further to save the planet! Repair Cafe has an entirely new spin on your broken toaster or chair: don’t just toss it, try to fix it. Volunteers at this grassroots group run free sessions, teaching and empowering you to challenge wasteful thinking.


7.   Amanda’s Lemonade

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… and sell it to raise money for charity. This grassroots group is reviving the classic curbside lemonade stand and encouraging others to donate their proceeds to the causes they care about. This June Amanda’s Lemonade is hosting a World Record attempt for the most lemonade stands in a row!


Tags:  grassroots growth  grassroots leaders  Grassroots week  volunteer leaders 

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Can You Help Me Find a Volunteer Position that will Give Me a Visa?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, March 20, 2017
Updated: March 16, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner


“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to - subject line: Ask Us

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hey Volunteer Toronto,

My name is Alejandro and I am living in Brazil. I want to come to Toronto as a volunteer. Can you help me find a volunteer position that will give me a visa? And it would be great if that position could pay for my room and board. Thanks,




Hello Alejandro,

Thanks for your email and your interest in volunteering in Toronto. This is a question we receive often and is important to clarify.

Volunteer Toronto supports people already living in Toronto who are looking to volunteer. We work with non-profits who are in search of volunteers in the city. If you move to Toronto, we would be happy to help you find a meaningful volunteer position. You can check out all current opportunities at

None of the non-profit organizations we work with provide visas for volunteer work, as they look to recruit volunteers already living in Toronto. Additionally, if you do an online search you can find websites that may offer room and board for volunteering in Canada, however we are not connected to these organizations.

Hope this information was helpful and if you do come to Toronto, please do get in touch so we can help you find a meaningful volunteer opportunity!


Tags:  Ask Kelly  volunteer in Canada  volunteer visa 

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Do I Need to Speak Perfect English to Volunteer?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, February 6, 2017
Updated: February 3, 2017
 <Ask Kelly Banner


“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help! 

Submit your question to - subject line: Ask Us

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hey Volunteer Toronto,

I have been looking for volunteering in non-profit organizations for almost two months but I didn't find anything. I am new in Canada and my English is not perfect yet. Is it affecting on opportunities that exist?




Hello Susan,

Welcome to Toronto and thanks so much for wanting to volunteer. It is hard to say exactly why you haven’t found a volunteer position, but we can give you some tips for the application process.

  1. Choose Positions That Fit

    There are hundreds of different positions on our website. Before applying for positions spend some time reflecting on what kind of volunteering you`d like to do. Then, when researching positions, be sure to look at their requirements. Are they asking for fluency in English? Are they asking for certain types of experience? You’ll have better luck if you apply for positions that fit your current skills and strengths.

  2. Follow the Instructions on How to Apply

    Volunteer Toronto works with over 600 different non-profit organizations. At the bottom of a posting you will find a Contact/How to Apply section, which should outline what steps you need to take to apply. This could include sending an email, filling out an application form or making a phone call among other things. It is important to follow the instructions to show that you can pay attention to detail, respect the wishes of the volunteer coordinator and care about the position.

  3. Come Across Professionally

    Making a great first impression can go a long way in the application process. Coming across professionally will help your application shine above the rest. You should customize your application to the specific role and clearly introduce yourself and why you are interested in the position. Make sure to answer all questions fully and before submitting your application, double check everything for spelling and grammar.

  4. Demonstrate You Care

    Non-profit organizations rely on volunteers to help them achieve their mission. If you care about the work they do or the community they serve demonstrate this in your application. The more concrete your reasons the better! For example, do you want to volunteer with seniors because your grandma played an important role in your life? Do you want to tutor science because you want to share your passion? Explain this in your application.

  5. Don’t Give Up

    Sometimes you might find a great position and write an amazing application that clearly demonstrates why it’s the perfect fit and still not get the position. Although that can be disappointing, do not give up! Sometimes the position may have just been filled. Or the volunteer coordinator was overwhelmed with applications. Or there was a better candidate out there. Please don’t give up. Keep applying and striving to find a good fit, because when you do it will be worth it.

Tags:  Ask Kelly  ESL volunteers  How long does it take to find a volunteer position  How to volunteer as a newcomer  Kelly Harbour 

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The Ultimate Volunteer Leadership Role

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, January 30, 2017
Updated: January 27, 2017

Becoming A Board Member Sessions

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes


At Volunteer Toronto, we often meet seasoned professionals with great skills and experience who want to find a way to apply what they know to benefit a non-profit. For someone with an interest in a high-level leadership role, volunteering on a non-profit’s board of directors is a great way to put your skills to good use and build on your leadership experience along the way.

But before you decide to start applying for board roles, it’s important to consider whether a board member role is right for you.

3 things to consider:

1. What issues am I most passionate about?

2. Can I contribute the time necessary to be an effective board member? 

3. What type of board would my skills and personality be a good fit for?

To make this easy, we run regular informational workshops on what’s involved in being a board member. In two hours, you’ll learn everything from what a Board of Director does, what skills you’ll need to join one, whether previous board experience is needed, what you should know before you join a board, and what the benefits are of volunteering on a board.

The session ends with tips and information on how you can find a board member role. While the session isn't about matching you with the right board member role, we can certainly give you all the tools and information you’ll need to find a non-profit board that is a good match for you.

So, if you want a volunteer role that will be as rewarding as it is challenging, come to one of our workshops to find out more about what’s involved!

Becoming A Board Member Sessions

Tags:  Accountability  Board Member  Board of Directors  Board Work  Governance  How do I join a Board of Directors?  Joining a Board  Leadership  Skilled Volunteers  Volunteer Board of Directors 

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Can I Volunteer for My Birthday?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, January 23, 2017
Updated: January 19, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner


“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? She’s here to help!

Submit your question to - subject line: Ask Us

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hey Volunteer Toronto,

For my birthday, my friends and I would like to volunteer. Is this kind of thing possible? Are there any opportunities we can do as a group? Can you please let me know?




Hello Akhal,

Thanks so much for your interest in volunteering with your friends. Most opportunities to volunteer with your friends are one-time special events such as festivals, fundraisers and marathons. These opportunities occur throughout the year, and are particularly abundant in the spring and summer.

Volunteering for your birthday sounds like fun! All of our group volunteer opportunities depend on the needs of the organizations we work with, so it is hard to predict if there will be an opportunity specifically on your birthday. You’ll have better success if you are open to looking for something anytime during your birth month.

We don’t know how many friends you’re thinking about inviting, but before you send out those invitations know that the average group opportunity asks for sizes of 5-10 people. It is quite difficult to find opportunities for groups larger than 10.

To find group opportunities that suite your birthday interests please search and use Category “4. Suitable for Groups”. You’ll then be able to read through opportunities and when one interests you, you can apply by following the instructions in the “How to Apply/Contact” section. Just so you know, the opportunities on our website change daily, so if you don’t find something that interests you right now, be sure to check back soon.

Hope you have fun Akhal! Happy birthday!

Thanks for reaching out,

Volunteer Toronto



Tags:  Kelly Harbour  volunteer in group  Volunteer with friends 

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Q&A with Daniel Rotsztain: The Man Who Used Art to Protest Toronto’s Condo Boom

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, January 9, 2017
Updated: January 5, 2017

Daniel Rotsztain Fake Development Proposal

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes


At Volunteer Toronto, we love to hear about Torontonians getting involved in their communities and taking action on issues they feel passionately about.

In fall of 2016, two local artists took the city by surprise when they launched “Development Proposal”, an art project that placed fake development proposal signs by some of Toronto’s most well-known landmarks. Can you imagine a 40-storey condo on top of the CN Tower? Or Old City Hall being transformed into a 90-storey condo and parking garage?

We interviewed co-creator Daniel Rotsztain to find out more about the project and how it made a difference.


Hi Daniel, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Daniel Rotsztain

I call myself an Urban Geographer and that means I’m an artist, writer and mapmaker. I’m really in love with places and am interested in our relationship to places that we live in. I’m especially inspired by Toronto, which is where I grew up and I feel really passionate about this place and in love with all the energy that I see other Torontonians putting into the city. I write for the Globe and Mail and NOW Magazine, and I’m an illustrator.





What kind of volunteering or activism have you done in the past?

My volunteerism started near my home. I volunteered for the local Out of Cold program at the synagogue by my house. I also helped at the kitchen at the Good Shepherd centre on Queen and Parliament. In university, I got involved in a lot of food justice activism and helped at a Pay What You Can vegan kitchen. Activism-wise, I’ve gone to all the protests and I’m currently planning on going to Ottawa to support the Chippewwa of the Thames case against Line 9.


What did you hope would happen after you put the signs up?

I’m not against condos, but because I grew up here I’m so energized that everyone wants to move here. Condos represent a relatively affordable way to live in the city but that doesn’t mean that I can’t criticize the “unbalanced-ness” of it.

I wanted to spark a conversation about the development process in Toronto, about who is part of the conversation and who isn’t. I decided on the ideas of fake signs as I wanted to critique the signs themselves so the best way to do that was to use straight satire.  With art you are given the opportunity to explore ideas about the future in a way that you can’t with politics and journalism. I also like street art as a medium, it’s the most democratic form of art. It’s not in a gallery…it’s on the street and accessible to everyone.  So putting a physical sign at a busy intersection in downtown Toronto was an easy way to launch our website and get lots of people to see it!


Fake condo proposal for the CN Tower  Fake condo proposal for the Toronto Island Ferry 
Daniel Rotsztain and Mike Stulberg Fake Development Proposals


I often set mini goals [for my work] to contextualize my work and motivate me, and I really wanted to see a little article on the CBC Toronto’s website. The sign we put up at Old City Hall was up for three whole days. We put it up on Friday and it was gone on Monday, but during that time every major news source covered it. BlogTO, CTV, City TV, Global News, The Star, The Globe and Mail all covered it. Some of the television newscasts had these wild segments where they showed animations of the fake condos that I had proposed, literally coming out of these buildings. I was quite tickled at that.


Was there anything you learnt from the project?

There’s quite an informed and engaged community about urban issues in the city especially on Twitter, and from them I learned that the problem really is that the official plan of the city protects neighbourhoods with single-family homes. People in those neighbourhoods can reject even nice, small four-storey condos because the plan says that these neighbourhoods need to be protected.

So what’s happening is it’s in the neighbourhoods that don’t have a lot of people protecting their interests like Liberty Village and Yonge Street, where there weren’t a lot of people living before that are receiving all of this massive development. That’s the real problem, I think.


Why did you choose this rather unusual approach?

I believe in art being about communication, and a lot of these issues are complicated. I’m interested in expressing them in a way that will get people thinking about them in a different way or realize something that’s happening that they didn’t realize before.


What surprised you about your campaign?

I did this project with a collaborator – Mike Stulberg – and we thought we would get some attention, but the torrent of attention was unexpected. It taught us that this is an issue that people care about and it reminded me that Torontonians do indeed care about their city and the development proposal process. The official plan needs to reflect that more because right now they do these public meetings and a lot of people don’t show up.

Another thing is that a project is an opportunity to start a conversation so I walked in thinking I knew what the issues were but I left knowing much more. That was really humbling.


What tips would you give to other Torontonians who are interested in taking a stand on matters they believe in?

I would say that in the city there are a lot of engaged people and there are events almost every night that are discussing issues from inclusivity to affordability to design. Show up at those events. Also, don’t be shy if you don’t know everything about an issue but you want to be part of it. It’s okay to ask questions and engage people in conversation without all the answers. That’s how we learn and that’s how we can support our communities.


To someone who is new to city building and activism where would they find these events?

Good question. NOW Magazine has lots of listings, and Facebook is really your best friend. If you’re on Facebook, there’s this group called the Yonge Urbanists League and it has just over 3,000 members. Every day people are posting events on it and that’s my go to source right now. It’s a super supportive community.


What do you have planned next either for the campaign or other civic actions?

I still want to explore urban planning and how people are left out of the conversation and who gets to be part of the conversation. I’m exploring the idea of hosting a mock proposal meeting and what alternatives are possible to engagement. I don’t know what form that will take but I have some ideas. I don’t want to say too much as I may do it in secret again!


Free Information Sessions!


Tags:  Activism  Activists  City of Toronto Development  Daniel Rotsztain  Fake Development Proposals  Toronto Fake Condo Proposals 

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10 Places in Toronto to Buy Gifts that Support the Local Community!

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 1, 2016
Updated: December 19, 2016
  10 Places To Buy Gifts That Support The Local Community!

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Whether it's a birthday, holiday or milestone, buying gifts is a year-long task. Why not direct your generosity in a way that benefits our community, by selecting gifts that give back? We’ve made it easy for you by putting together our top ten gift ideas for 2016 - just click the link in each title to find out more!


Inspirations Studio

Located on Dundas West, Inspirations Studio is a pottery studio that teaches women living on low-incomes how to create and sell pottery. The program allows women to gain meaningful employment and provides a safe and inclusive space for creativity. They sell mugs, bowls, plates, platters and beautiful handmade items of all shapes and sizes!


Inspirations Studio

Inspirations Studio is a pottery studio that teaches women living on low-incomes how to create and sell pottery.



It’s easy to shop online and select thoughtfully created gift baskets, cookie platters and baby gifts for those you love.  DANI Toronto is a local charity that provides vocational training for adults with special needs so that they can participate as valued members of our community by being involved in the organization’s gift shop, catering, café, and restaurant. 



DANI Toronto is a local charity that provides vocational training for adults with special needs



For that special person, choose from an exquisite collection of jewelry that is considered wearable art! Sappho empowers women from marginalized populations across Toronto by employing them to make the jewelry and an income that they can use to support their families. They also sell beautiful “empathy effect” pins with 15% of the proceeds given to a charitable organization that is catalyzing empathy. 


Sappho empowers women from marginalized populations across Toronto
by employing them to make the jewelry.


St. John’s Bakery

St. John’s Bakery in the east end employs people on Ontario Works, people with disabilities, people struggling with addictions, people with emotional and or mental Illness, people new to Canada and single parents.  And they make the best bread in the city!  Their sweets and bread can be purchased at their location at Queen and Broadview.  Their bakery goods will make the perfect hostess gift for the party season!

 St. John's Bakery

St. John's Bakery employs people with disabilities, mental illness,
those struggling with addictions, and newcomers to Canada. 


Pursuit OCR 

Have a friend who would love to attend an acroyoga class or enjoy the challenges of an indoor obstacle course?  Purchase a gift card from Pursuit OCR in Little Portugal!  By donating 30% of their profits to local non-profits, Pursuit OCR is helping to build awareness in schools about the LGBTQ community.   

 Pursuit OCR

Pursuit OCR donates 30% of their profits to non-profits supporting the LBGTQ community




FoodShare is a Toronto based non-profit organization that works with communities and schools to deliver healthy food and food education.  Enjoy visiting their website to choose gift baskets of delicious food and bakery items, packaged in beautiful custom made totes and baskets!


FoodShare is a non-profit organization that works with communities and schools
o deliver healthy food and food education. 



Native Canadian Centre of Toronto

Drop by the Native Canadian Centre in The Annex to visit their indigenous owned and operated store.  Select from a wide variety of First Nations, Métis and Inuit handcrafted jewelry, carvings, basketry, beadwork, moccasins, and original art.

 Native Canadian Centre

The gift shop is Toronto’s only indigenous owned and operated store.



Ezzy Lynn

Ezzy Lynn is a lifestyle brand of trendsetting apparel and accessories started by three graduates from Western University who are based in Toronto and London, Ontario. Each item they sell represents a unique endangered animal which they adopt through WWF-Canada from proceeds of each sale.  What a wonderful way to make someone happy in your life and also make an impact on wildlife conservation!  

 Ezzy Lynn

Each Ezzy Lynn item represents a unique endangered animal which the company adopts
through WWF-Canada from proceeds of each sale.  



Klink Coffee

Brew up some good by purchasing coffee in support of the John Howard Society. This social enterprise assists individuals in removing barriers to entering the workforce. This non-profit organization works especially with clients coming out of the criminal justice system offering employment readiness and on-the-job training.  

 Klink Coffee

Klink Coffee works with clients coming out of the criminal justice system offering employment readiness and on-the-job training. 



Brighton Launch

If you know someone who loves one-of-a-kind items, check out Brighton Launch! Based in Toronto, their program offers students with learning challenges the business skills and experience that will allow them to find full time jobs. Their online store carries unique handmade items such as bath bombs and tub teas.

 Brighton Launch

Brighton Launch offers students with learning challenges the business skills and
experience that will allow them to find full time jobs.



Tags:  Best Christmas Gifts of 2016  Christmas gift  Ethical holiday gifts  Gifts to support the local community  Kindest Christmas Gives This year  What to buy for Christmas 

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Do You Have Volunteer Opportunities in Mississauga?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 24, 2016
Updated: December 19, 2016
 "> Ask Kelly Banner


“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? She’s here to help!

Submit your question to - subject line: Ask Us

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hey Volunteer Toronto,

I’m interested in volunteering in Mississauga. Can you please send me some opportunities? Also, my friend lives in Oakville; can you send her options too?  




Hello, Dennis

Thanks for your email and your interest in volunteering. We at Volunteer Toronto serve the City of Toronto, which includes downtown, North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke. You can think about it like this: we serve anywhere the T.T.C. travels. Although on our website you may find a handful of opportunities outside of the City of Toronto, most of the opportunities we offer are within Toronto.  

Mississauga is a different city than the City of Toronto. Luckily, there is an organization called Volunteer MBC that services Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. We suggest you contact them to find volunteer opportunities in your community.

There are 26 volunteer centres like Volunteer Toronto and Volunteer MBC across the province that exist to help people like you find meaningful volunteer opportunities in their community. For people across Ontario who are looking to volunteer, a great place to find the nearest volunteer centre to you is


Thanks so much for contacting us and we wish you great luck as you seek out a volunteer opportunity.




Tags:  Ask Kelly  Ontario Voluntary Centre Network  OVCN  Volunteer in Mississauga  Volunteer MBC  Where to volunteer outside the GTA 

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5 Quotes to Help Inspire You to Make a Difference

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 24, 2016
Updated: October 21, 2016
 Volunteer Quotes

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Sometimes we need a little inspiration, comforting encouragement to help us feel connected and provide context for the life we live. The world is complex, filled with a myriad of choices and paths to take. When you decide to give freely of your time, for whatever reason, it can steer you in a new direction or affirm your choices. Just by giving your time, you can be part of something bigger than yourself and your actions can have a ripple effect.


We've compiled five sharable volunteer quotes in images! We hope that

they'll inspire you to volunteer and truly make a difference for your community. Feel free to share, save, and print these images and spread the joy!


Volunteer quotes - volunteering has no destination. The roads you can take are endless.

 "Volunteering has no destination. The roads you can take are endless."

Fiona Kovacaji - Volunteer with the Bata Show Museum“I started volunteering as a way of giving back to the community. As a student, it can feel like you’re constantly taking; from your parents, OSAP… etc and not contributing too much back to society. Volunteering is my way of making a contribution plus I’ve discovered new passions that I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. When I began volunteering at Bata Shoe Museum I fell in love with museum work and it has inspired me to pursue a career in Museum Education.”

Fiona Kovacaji 
Volunteer Docent with the Bata Show Museum


 Volunteer quote - The greatest gift you can give is time.

"The greatest gift you can give is time."


Erica Whyte - Volunteer with Jesse's Centre“I love kids, and I am very goofy, so every day that I am volunteering I try to make it as fun and as exciting as possible. We dress up in crazy clothes and we sing songs and have dance parties. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing those kids smile and laugh, so I do whatever I can to make that happen.”



 Erica Whyte
Parent Child Centre Volunteer with Jesse’s Centre


 Volunteer Quote - Be part of something bigger than yourself

"Be part of something bigger than yourself."


Rod Rodney“This particular volunteer experience was unplanned but a result of an inquiry at my sailing Club about involving kids in boatworks. The Club, which supports Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders, shared with me the charity’s contact information and over time I became more involved. Why not volunteer? Seemed like the right thing to do, meet good people, show the kids what possibilities exist and use my knowledge and experience to create social change.”


 Captain Ron
Volunteer Sailing Instructor with Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders



 Volunteer Quote - Small acts when multiplied can transform the world

"Small acts when multiplied can transform the world."


Veronica Seeto - Volunteer with TRIEC“I am proud to say my work with International IT professionals has helped them to re-establish their careers in Canada opening so many opportunities to them and their families. Many of my mentees have gone on to contribute back to the community.”




Veronica Seeto
Volunteer Mentor with TRIEC


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The How-to for a First-Time Volunteer: Ace it, Enjoy it.

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 23, 2016
Updated: October 22, 2016
Teens heart shape 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 

Volunteering for the first time can be tricky. From making a good impression to deciding what to wear, on your first day you'll face all sorts of challenges. Not to worry though, every committed volunteer makes it through their first day. Here are 6 tips to help reduce the challenges, so you’re just left with facing the real world.


1. Pre-Shift Reflection: Did You Pick the Right Volunteer Position?

There’s nothing worse than not enjoying your first shift, especially since volunteering is supposed to be both fun and meaningful. Before you agree to volunteer with an organization long-term or even short-term, make sure it fits you!




2. Be Prepared and Be On Time.

So you’ve decided to commit to an organization? Great! The best way to show your commitment is by reading up on that volunteer manual (if available) as well as arriving on time or earlier. Don’t be that one volunteer who runs in panting and sweating because they’re 10 minutes late.



3. Make a Good Impression

First step to first impressions is following #2: Be Prepared, Be On Time. The most impressive first-time volunteers are the ones who walk in already knowing what to expect. Also, do your best to be enthusiastic and follow your supervisor’s directions. If you can do that, you’ll look super dedicated, the volunteer manager will love you, and you might even be asked to help other volunteers who might be experiencing difficulties.


4. Don’t Be Shy

Spark conversations. Ask questions. Make friends. Volunteering is so much more enjoyable when you’re with people you’re comfortable with. Being friendly plays a big part in making a good first impression. It may be awkward at first, but trust me, try your best to step out of your comfort zone and initiate a conversation with a fellow volunteer or the manager.
Don’t be shy, Awesome > Comfort Zone.



5.You Did It, Be Proud!

Has it been three hours already? We hope it was a good experience. Whether you’re doing this for your community service hours, or because your parents made you, pat yourself on the back. You have just taken a big step into the world of social responsibility. It also doesn't hurt to talk about it on social media, the organization you volunteer with would greatly appreciate the exposure especially if you tag them! 



6. Post-Shift Reflection: Again, Did You Pick the Right Position?

Time for a metacognitive analysis! I mean, self-reflection. How do you feel? If you liked it, hooray! If you didn’t, no problem. Not everything is going to be all rainbows and sunshine, so if this wasn’t the right organization/position for you, don’t worry. Let your volunteer manager know and give as much notice as possible. Hopefully you signed up for more than one organization at the Youth Expo though… if not, Volunteer Toronto has your back.



Tags:  40 High School Community service hours  40 hours  getting your 40 hours  How to get your 40 hours  volunteer in Toronto  Volunteering  Youth volunteers 

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Can I Use My Financial Experience to Volunteer at a Bank?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 11, 2016
 Ask Kelly Banner


“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to - subject line: Ask Us

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hello Volunteer Toronto, 

I am interested in volunteering for a bank to use my financial experience. I am having trouble finding a bank I can volunteer at. Can you please help me? 





Hello, Arshna

Thank you so much for your email. We are glad to hear that you are interested in volunteering. To answer your question, no you cannot volunteer in a bank.  

The reason for this is that banks are for-profit companies. For-profit companies are businesses that seek to make revenue. Some examples of for-profits include banks, tech companies, engineering firms, and retail stores. You cannot volunteer at these companies. 

At Volunteer Toronto we promote volunteer opportunities at non-profit organizations.

Non-profits are organizations that exist to serve a cause or a community. They do not exist to make money. There are many non-profits across our city. Their purpose could include reducing worldwide hunger, providing tutoring in the community or promoting caring for the environment. The opportunities are endless! All the volunteer opportunities you can find on our website are with non-profit organizations.

If you would like to volunteer and use your financial experience, a few possibilities include:

  • Volunteering on a committee that needs someone with a financial background (Category: Boards/Committees)
  • Assisting an organization with a fundraising campaign (Category: Fundraising)
  • Mentoring a newcomer or youth who wants to learn more about the finance field (Category: Counselling/Mentoring)

If you need any additional assistance we encourage you to sign-up for our newsletter, attend an information session or contact a Volunteer Advisor.

Many thanks,

Volunteer Toronto 



Tags:  skilled volunteering  Toronto  Volunteer  volunteer in a bank  volunteer in a profession  volunteering 

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What's it Like to Volunteer as... a Friendly Visitor?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, September 19, 2016

Kensington Gardens - Friendly Visitor 
Photo courtesy of Kensington Gardens

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


Volunteering is a great way to make new connections, but one popular position provides a unique chance to give and grow at the same time. Friendly visiting is a meaningful way to come together with people outside your normal social circle, and make a difference in their lives.

Friendly visitors provide company to people at risk of isolation. They might share a pot of tea with seniors who live alone, play a game of cards with adults facing health problems, or stop in for a chat with those who have mobility challenges.

Amalia Caballero
Amalia Caballero

Nineteen-year-old Amalia Caballero is a friendly visitor at Kensington Gardens, a not-for-profit long-term care home in the heart of the city. Amalia took the time to share some of her friendly visiting experiences with us.







How would you describe your current volunteer role to someone who has not heard of your organization and has never volunteered before?

At the Kensington Gardens, our main goal is to provide quality care for all the residents. I visit a few of them every week to have meaningful conversations and participate in stimulating activities together..


What is the time commitment involved?

I typically volunteer two hours every week.


Can you tell us about the training provided?

Training consists of online modules that are constantly being updated. There is also in-person training that ensures we can safely interact with residents. The online modules can be completed at your own pace, while the in-person training lasts two hours.


What skills and characteristics do you feel contribute most to success in your volunteering?

In order for friendly visits to be successful, one must be really patient and truly enjoy interacting with new people every day.


What have you learned from your volunteering?

I believe that by volunteering at Kensington Gardens, I have learned to listen to the people that surround me. I now understand that words carry a huge value, and they are wasted when no one stops to listen.


What’s been surprising or challenging about your volunteering?

The most challenging experience is accepting that not all residents wish to have a friendly visitor. Some residents are happier with a nice bed and a good nap!


What common misconceptions do people have about the volunteering that you do?

People believe that working with seniors is boring, but I can assure them that the residents have the funniest stories and anecdotes to share.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do this type of volunteering?

I would advise anyone who wants to volunteer as a friendly visitor to find a nursing home that resonates with him or her. The most important thing about visiting residents is to be happy, and this can only happen if you enjoy going to the facility!.

What do you like most about volunteering for this Kensington Gardens?

I love volunteering at Kensington Gardens, because this is where I have met the most amazing people! The residents that I visit bring a smile to my face every time I see them.


Are you interested in becoming a Friendly Visitor? Check out our Volunteer Opportunities page and search under the category "Visiting/Accompanying Positions." 

Attend any of our free information sessions on volunteering in Toronto!


Tags:  Friendly visiting  health care volunteer positions  senior care volunteer positions  toronto  types of volunteer positions  volunteer  volunteering for youth 

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How Can I Get My 40 Hours?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, September 12, 2016
Updated: September 9, 2016
 Ask Kelly Banner


“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to - subject line: Ask Us

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hi Volunteer Toronto,


I’ve just started grade 9 and heard from my friends that we need to do 40 hours of volunteering to graduate from high school. What counts as volunteering for me to be able to graduate? How do I find volunteer opportunities?



Hello Cynthia,

Congratulations on starting high school! Thanks so much for your question. It is true that all Ontario high school students must volunteer at least 40 hours to be able to graduate from high school. Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community, build up your resume and try new things.

There are many opportunities that can count towards your 40 hours. Here is a helpful infographic to break it down for you!

What counts toward the 40 hour requirement? 

What doesn't count toward the 40 hour requirement?

In terms of how to find opportunities, there are many ways to do so! We encourage you to use our helpful Reflect, Research and Reach Out model to find positions that suite your interests and skills.

If you are looking for additional guidance please check out the Youth Pages on our website for more information about high school volunteering.

Many thanks,

Volunteer Toronto

 Need to get your 40 hours but don't know where to start?

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7 Ways You Can Volunteer to Help the Homeless

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, August 29, 2016
Updated: August 26, 2016

Volunteer to Help the Homeless

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


When you imagine volunteering to help the homeless, you might think of helping prepare food in a soup kitchen or sorting clothing donations at a shelter. While it is true that these tasks are the more traditional volunteer opportunities, there are a variety of other ways you can volunteer to help the homeless and contribute meaningfully to create a safe and positive space for all of the members of your community.






1. Volunteer as a mentor

Many organizations seek volunteers to act as mentors for youth in their facilities. Mentors are positive adult role models who guide youth on school, career exploration, personal development, and goal setting. This volunteer role will most likely have a more rigorous application and screening process and will require dedication of time and commitment. Being a mentor to a youth not only contributes positively to your community, but is often a mutually beneficial experience. As a mentor, you would create a meaningful relationship, gain self-esteem, improve supervisory skills, and have the opportunity to connect with other volunteers.


Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

Yonge Street Mission: 416-929-9614

The Redwood: 416-533-9372, extension 233


Administrative Assisant 

2. Volunteer as an administrative assistant

Just as much as organizations working to reduce homelessness need volunteer support on the floor, they also need volunteers to help keep the office running smoothly. Administrative duties could include providing front desk support (greeting guests, answering phones), sorting mail, or data entry. If you could provide administrative support, many shelters would be highly appreciative of you donating your skills and time.

Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

Yonge Street Mission: 416-929-9614

The Redwood416-533-9372, extension 233

St. John the Compassionate Mission: 416-466-1357



3. Volunteer as a tutor

A variety of organizations who are focused on homelessness look for volunteers to provide tutoring assistance with secondary school or post-secondary schooling for the people who use their facilities. The level of tutoring that is needed will vary from shelter to shelter and could include assisting children in elementary school, youth in high school, or other residents in college or university. If you have a passion for learning and enjoy sharing your knowledge, volunteering as a tutor might be a great fit!

Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

The Redwood416-533-9372, extension 233

Youth Without Shelter: 416-748-0110



Appointment Escort 

4. Volunteer as an appointment escort

Providing appointment escorts is a service many organizations may offer. This service relies on volunteers to accompany guests to and from a variety of appointments. This could include accompanying someone with a medical appointment, on a grocery trip, or to a dentist appointment. Acting as an escort allows you to assist residents with travel and also provides a friendly visit for residents.

Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

The Good Neighbour's Club: 416-366-5377, extension 242

WoodGreen Community Services: 416-645-6000


Special Events 

5. Volunteer at special events

Organizations focused on reducing homelessness may host special events at different times throughout the year and they will most likely need volunteers to help during these events. Some of the volunteer tasks at special events could include planning the event, setting up and tearing down the event, taking photographs during the event, or helping with event registration.

Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

Wychwood Open Door:

St. John the Compassionate Mission: 416-466-1357



Gardening volunteer


6. Volunteer as a gardener

Homeless shelters and other centres may have grounds or gardens providing a pleasant green space for guests to relax in or a yard for children to play in. Volunteer your time by helping mow the lawn, plant vegetables, or rake leaves.

Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

St. Felix Centre: 416-203-1624



Professional services 

7. Volunteer your professional services

A variety of other programs that rely heavily on volunteer support may be offered. If you have a special skill you would like to donate, volunteer opportunities for people who can act as doctors, dental assistants, optometrists, nurses, technical support, dance instructors, music instructors, fitness instructors, hairdressers may be available.



How To Get Involved

If any of these opportunities sound interesting to you, please contact the organization directly to apply. There are many other organizations working to alleviate homelessness in Toronto that have not been mentioned here, who may welcome your volunteer assistance. If you have any in mind, we encourage you to contact them and offer your services.

Check out this video just released by OCAP. It is a brief look at the housing crisis in Toronto and the people it affects. 

For further volunteer opportunities or more information,email us at or call 416-961-6888.



Attend any of our free information sessions on volunteering in Toronto!

Tags:  helping the homeless  Homeless in Toronto  How to volunteer to help the homeless  Toronto  Volunteer with the homeless 

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What's it Like to Volunteer for... a Film Festival?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, August 22, 2016
Updated: August 18, 2016

TIFF Volunteers 
Photo courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Lights! Camera! Volunteer!

Did you know that our city is home to over 75 film festivals of all sizes?

And that many Toronto festivals depend on the support of dedicated volunteers working in all sorts of roles. Whether it's greeting guests, helping with promotions, or coordinating sponsors, there are countless ways to get involved.

If you're a passionate film fan, offering your time to a festival can be a great opportunity to gain experience, take a peek inside the industry, or make some like-minded new friends.

Tony Cortes - Toronto International Film Festival volunteer
Tony Cortes

Toronto’s biggest film festival is almost upon us, so we chatted with Volunteer Captain Tony Cortes about his experiences volunteering with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).


How would you describe your current volunteer role to someone who has not heard of your organization and has never volunteered before?


TIFF is an organization that truly relies on a very large team of volunteers. Volunteer Captains provide team leadership to both new and experienced groups of volunteers in various areas of the organization’s operations.



What is the time commitment involved?

The Festival takes place once a year during September, however, there are other year-round volunteer opportunities at TIFF. During the Festival, volunteers must commit to a minimum of 4 shifts. Each shift can take between 4 to 8 hours, depending on the position.


If training is provided, what did it consist of? How long did it last?

TIFF is very good with volunteer training. You are required to attend an information session where you are introduced to the organization and its mission, vision and values. You’re told what you can expect in terms of roles and responsibilities, code of conduct, etc. You get to meet the Volunteer Office team and learn about their specific responsibilities. Then there is specific training for the role you choose. During this session, you are taught all of the possible real-life challenges you could experience in the role and how to prepare for any potential hurdles.


What have you learned from your volunteering?

I have learned that TIFF is such a great place to volunteer. It has the best team and the best training provided to volunteers. It's a big, happy family and you get to see a lot of people coming back to volunteer year after year - this is a testament to the fabulous experience volunteers have at TIFF.


What’s been surprising or challenging about your volunteering?

You will encounter challenging situations while volunteering and sometimes, no amount of training can prepare you for the real experience. Take a deep breath, listen with empathy, and do your best to help. There is always a TIFF staff member that can assist you.


What common misconceptions do people have about the volunteering that you do?

Volunteering at TIFF may seem glamorous, but it is also a lot of hard work. It pays off in the end and you finish your shift feeling good that you have helped people and that you are advancing the cause of the organization.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do this type of volunteering?

Just do it.

Attend any of our free information sessions on volunteering in Toronto!


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