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Recruiting & Engaging Newcomers
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Recruiting & Engaging Newcomer Volunteers - Subscriber Circle Summary and Tips

Mona ElSayeh, Subscriptions Manager

On April 22, 2015, a number of Volunteer Toronto subscribers participated in a discussion group hosted by North York Seniors Centre. The following are highlights from that dynamic conversation about working with newcomer volunteers.

The contributions newcomer volunteers make:

Roughly 50 % of the population of the GTA was born outside of Canada. Not only does engaging this group widen your potential pool of volunteers, but this huge number of residents can make unique contributions that are a great way to increase the capacity of any non-profit

  • They bring diverse experiences and fresh perspectives
  • They reflect our society and our stakeholders
  • Working with newcomers can raise cultural awareness amongst both paid staff and volunteers
  • They can help strengthen positive relationships with local communities

Where to recruit newcomers:

The most effective approach to recruitment is to be intentional. These methods were suggested by the group:

  • Ask existing volunteers for referrals
  • Advertise in educational institutions
  • Reach out to settlement workers and Local Immigration Partnerships (LIP)
  • Use social media
  • Recruit through faith groups
  • Advertise through multi-cultural media and events
  • Reach out to Ontario works
  • Advertise in community centres and neighbourhood coffee shops
  • Form partnerships with corporations

Engaging Newcomers:

A good starting point for engagement is to understand newcomers’ motivations and needs. Newcomers may be looking for the following:

  • To understand their new home
  • To connect with their new community
  • To gain Canadian experience
  • To learn new skills
  • To improve their language skills
  • To make social connections and prevent loneliness and isolation

An added bonus is that volunteering will help them become engaged in society and this builds social capital and social cohesion.

Supporting Newcomer Volunteers
Organizations have a variety of practises to support newcomer volunteers:

  • Assessing the language requirements of positions to see what is actually necessary for each task to avoid excluding potential volunteers who don’t speak English fluently
  • Matching a newcomer volunteer with an experienced volunteer to provide one-to-one orientation and training
  • Creating bridging opportunities for newcomer volunteers to help them participate in core services and leadership opportunities

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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