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20,000 Volunteer Looking to Connect - Subscriber Circle Summary
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20,000 Volunteers Looking to Connect: Pan Am & Parapan Am Games Volunteer Legacy in Toronto - Subscriber Circle Summary

Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator 

As the City of Toronto experiences the excitement of the Pan Am & Parapan Am Games, volunteer-engaging organizations and managers are focused on the legacy of the Games and what to do with the new Games volunteers. On July 29th 2015 a group of volunteer managers met to discuss how they planned to capitalize on the volunteer potential generated by the games.

Here’s what we know:

  • More than 20,000 volunteers were recruited for the PanAm/ParapanAm Games
  • For many, this is their first large-scale volunteer experience
  • The end of the Games presents an opportunity to tap into a large influx of volunteers who may be looking for new volunteer opportunities, but aren’t sure where to look

It is essential to understand the impact of the Games on potential volunteers, and for non-profit organizations to create an action plan that will help them make the most of the Games legacy.

Maximizing the Legacy of Games Volunteers

Have a recruitment and screening plan in place:

  • Ensure that volunteers know who you are and how they can get involved with your organization
  • Find the connection between Games-time roles, and your needs as an organization
  • Many Games volunteers did not get to choose their Games-time roles; ensure that your volunteer roles are engaging their areas of interest
  • Make the screening and training process clear and relevant to the volunteer role
  • Some Games volunteers may come with few or no references or little proof of volunteering; ask for their PREB-Ontario certificate to see information about their Games contribution
  • Consider how you will evaluate their skill level and suitability for positions within your organization

What benefits can Games volunteers add to your organization?

  • New Skills and Expertise: Games volunteers have acquired or honed skills that could be assets to your organization and can help you achieve your mission, such as driver dispatch, arts and culture event planning, and team leadership. Be aware of transferrable skills that you can tap into for your organizational needs
  • Unique Experiences: Volunteers’ experiences during this special event can add to the richness and effectiveness of your volunteer program

Factors that may affect a Games volunteer’s involvement:

  • Games-Time Intensity: as the Games are such an intense and concentrated volunteer experience, be aware of volunteer expectations of a similar experience coming into your organization. While some will be looking to replicate the energy of the Games, for many working with your organization may present an opportunity for a less intense volunteer experience
  • Different Volunteer Structure: due to the vast number of volunteer roles during the Games, volunteer experiences may differ significantly from the way your organization is structured, including supervision and the understanding of what it means to be a volunteer. Let volunteers know the benefits of your organization structure and how you will support them in their roles
  • New Ideas for Change: Be open to the new approaches and ideas that Games volunteers may bring to benefit your volunteer program. 

Subscriber Circles are themed discussion groups for volunteer coordinators and managers, hosted monthly by Volunteer Toronto in-house and in different parts of Toronto. Subscriber Circles are free for Full Subscribers.

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