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It’s A Feature Feature!

Published: Jun 15, 2021 @ 4:45 PM

george eliotWe talk about lots of different topics here on the blog. We don’t usually take the opportunity to brag about ourselves but we are making an exception today. 

We launched an awesome and very helpful new feature to volunteerconnector.org to support times when communities are in crisis. The news coverage often shows the horrible aftermath of floods, fires, earthquakes and the like but we all know that the best in humanity comes out during these moments. It’s neighbour supporting neighbour, it’s people taking care of each other. 

With this in mind we have renovated the volunteer profile on volunteerconnector.org to include an option to opt into contact information being shared with a local organization in the case of an urgent community need. An important thing to mention: the choice is up to the volunteer. A volunteer will always have the power to determine what is shared and not shared with an organization in terms of their personal information. 

A cool thing has happened since we launched this - over 90% of people have opted in! Lots of people out there caring about their communities and willing to be called upon when something bad happens. No million dollar prize just doing the right thing. Something very heartwarming about that indeed.

 

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Stories We Tell About Volunteerism

Published: Jun 9, 2021 @ 2:12 PM

Stories we tell.Let’s talk about the 2 sentences we hear A LOT when it comes to engaging people in volunteerism:

  1. We ALWAYS need volunteers 
  2. It’s ALWAYS the same people doing all the work.

These things are probably true at some time, for some organizations, probably also feels real for a lot more organizations for lots more time. Is it real though? Is it a fact? 

When was the last time somebody sat down and considered the work that needs to be done within the organization, how that work can be divided up and who should be doing that work? We are living in a time where everything can feel a little upside down, the ground is uneven. Maybe it’s also the time where there is also possibility and room to be curious? Maybe what made sense in 2019 doesn’t fit for 2022! Only you know what that looks like in your organization but let us know what you come up with! We’d love to share your stories! 

In terms of sentence 2 - this is another story we tell. Two reasons for this, whether we believe it or not we haven’t asked. Like truly asked, not just tried to convince someone we know to do it. Extending the reach of the organization past its regular network. The other reason is we have not thought about how the work could be made more flexible. There are tons of ways to do this- make it remote, change the deadlines, chunk up the role, recruit from outside your location.

VolunteerConnector recently posted an opportunity for a Content Advisor, after 8 days on the site we interviewed 2 cool humans and 1 was the right fit! This person couldn’t start until the summer so that’s what we will do. 

We would love to hear stories from your organization about how your curiosity and flexibility have led to an awesome volunteer engagement story. Let us know at info@volunteerconnector.org.

 

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AGM 2021 - Thanks!

Published: Jun 3, 2021 @ 9:05 AM

Thanks for another fantastic year and the completion of our AGM this week. A special thanks to our guest speakers:

As well, we want to thank Minister Aheer for sending greetings and thanks to all the volunteers out there who dedicate their time to serving in their communities!

Of course a huge shout out to our board for making the AGM happen and continuing to serve all of us across so many communities.

 

 

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There is More Than 215

Published: May 31, 2021 @ 4:16 PM

every child mattersThe On Canada Project 

 

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

 

University of Alberta - Indigenous Canada 

 

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

 

National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls

 

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Continuous Improvement and Investment

Published: May 26, 2021 @ 9:27 AM

Ironic thank- youWe constantly assess how the VolunteerConnector is working for people interested in volunteering and for the organizations that use it. There are a ton of ways we do this, mostly it is about listening. We know the best way to serve communities across Canada to listen to the humans who utilize the platform, what they feel like is awesome or the spots they think could use a little attention. We also listen to the data; we look at what is unusual, weird, what makes us go huh? 

The results are awesome, it means a continually evolving platform that is informed by the experience of real humans. People we love and who love us. 

When you see changes on volunteerconnector.org it is the result of hundreds of hours research, trials, and conversations. And love. We take the space we hold in this ecosystem seriously. Our team spends our time, energy and resources on making volunteerconnector.org the very best so everyone else can focus on their vital work. We are so grateful for all the communities that have trusted us in supporting their citizens engaging in things that they care about. We can't wait to meet and welcome more people into the VolunteerConnector coterie (I looked up a lot of words...this one felt right!).

 

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Volunteering: How it Changed My Entire Outlook - Guest Blog

Published: May 19, 2021 @ 11:22 AM

For the longest time since I can remember, I had never been a fan of little children. All the screaming, crying, messiness - it just drove me insane. People would look at me like I was an alien from an outer planet when I told them I very much disliked kids. Now, however, you can find me daydreaming about what it would be like to have my own kids someday. So, how did that change? Long story short, volunteering changed my entire outlook on children.

I first started volunteering out of sheer desperation. Applications for a specific high school I wanted to attend were drawing to a close, and they required a certain amount of volunteer hours. The hours I currently had in my bank? Zero. I know, my motivations for donating my time weren’t all that noble. But, we all have to start somewhere, right? Well, after countless hours of searching, I came up with one possible opportunity. Unfortunately, though, the opportunity involved helping kids with their bible study at my church. Biggest. Nightmare. Ever. Reluctantly, I headed towards my first shift. Two hours later, I was drained. The next shift rolled around, and I was in a debate with myself over whether to go or not. Finally, my morals poked at my sides, and I dragged myself to the church. This persisted for the next couple of months. Despite my earlier hesitations, however, I began to notice a change in myself. I was so much more open-minded, and the kids there were starting to grow on me. The way they would look up at you adoringly when you read aloud, and the way they beamed when you gave them a high five. Soon enough, I began to look forward to my upcoming shifts.

Through this experience, I have learned that beautiful things don’t come without hardship. Although I endured countless hours of wailing children, I was also rewarded with the sacred relationship I formed with them. I have also learned that persistence is key to success. If I had not pushed myself through those first few weeks, I never would have found myself here now. I hope that my story can encourage others to persevere, as there will always be a prize at the end.

Thank you,

Yuri Choi

 

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Just a Little Bit

Published: May 11, 2021 @ 2:25 PM

One of our fav people, Adam Grant, wrote a widely shared article in the past couple weeks about our current state "languishing". The zoom conversations that I am having where people have the energy to have their cameras on involve a lot of blank stares. I, myself have been trying to complete my online grocery order for 2 weeks. It's a time. We are all holding our breath and putting one foot in front of another.

The bandwidth required for taking a new volunteer role or imagining if that gala fundraiser can happen in the fall may not be present right now. It is ok, this is where mircovolunteering comes in. Liking, sharing, commenting on social media is a little something to elevate a cause you care about. It matters.

Check out this awesome example from the cool people at GlobalMedic!  

 

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Stats Stack Up!

Published: May 4, 2021 @ 1:14 PM

Want to see how we compare to the latest data released from Statistics Canada from 2018?

Younger people most likely to volunteer? Same!

  • People under 35 make up 52% of our traffic.

Millennial and Baby Boomer women had higher rates of volunteering than men within the same generations – Totally

  • 63% of our users are female!

Event organization and fundraising most common types of formal volunteering – Um, what?

  • Our most popular types of formal volunteering are in marketing and pr, tutoring and mentoring, and admin.

People are really into informal volunteering – Yeah, of course!

  • People love to find informal volunteer opportunities on the Connector. They are spreading acts of kindness, cheer, and taking the time to do small things for each other and the planet. The role “Messages of Cheer” was viewed 24,000 times in just a couple of months!

Young people love disseminating information? YUP!

  • Just like roles in Marketing and PR are popular, spreading info, advocating and being formal or informal ambassadors are all pretty popular opportunities. Most postings are filled within 2 weeks or less!

 

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What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Volunteering (Part 2 of 2)

Published: Apr 27, 2021 @ 9:08 AM

Last week to celebrate National Volunteer Week we started a conversation about the unspoken realities of volunteerism. We are continuing to feel all the feelings!  

Unintentional harm is still harm. 

It is difficult to acknowledge that hurt can still happen with the best of intentions. Lots of reasons for this...structures, ignorance, systems not designed for the human. The act of volunteering can result in harm for people. Whether that is the process of recruitment requiring someone to interact with police or whether that is a board meeting that is not a safe place, we all need to own our part in assessing the ways in which we magnify or create harm and oppression.   

Lots of volunteer roles allay guilt but do not address root causes. 

There has been a shift in the past decades where organizations have altered their volunteer roles into a more skilled and flexible place. Volunteerism in most forms still offers a very “thin relationship” (Dean Spade). One can't help but wonder if we dedicated more time and energy to thinking about and addressing the complex and unique problems in our own communities instead of getting the hit of dopamine for something mundane for an industrial charity what we could shift for each other? For our communities?  

Are you uncomfortable again?

Maybe this is still feeling like a lot, maybe you are about to write a second email to tell us exactly why we are way off base, maybe you are feeling defensive of yourself or your organizations. That is still ok. Centre the voices of people in your organization who are underrepresented, do what they recommend, circle back to check to see what still needs to be done. There is still not a checklist for solutions, a certification for completion and perfection is still not possible so just start doing something. 

Still keep on learning.

Inspiration and information for this piece was taken from the below people and spaces:

 

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What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Volunteering (Part 1 of 2)

Published: Apr 20, 2021 @ 1:58 PM

This week is National Volunteer Week here in Canada, a time to celebrate the time, energy, and value that volunteers offer to communities and organizations across the country. Volunteerism and the giving sector have a reputation as a feel-good time and space, it is the warm and fuzzies in a world where these moments can feel few and far between. We should celebrate people for the good work they do but we also need to acknowledge some truths. This is not about to be some big expose on the sector or volunteerism it is just going to outline things we all know but never say. 

Volunteering is an act of privilege. 

It costs on average $1700/year to participate in volunteering. There are many people in our country who do not have the luxury of spare time or energy to dedicate to even thinking about pursuing something that sparks joy in their spare time because their spare time does not exist. They are too busy meeting basic needs for themselves and their families. It means those voices are often missing at the tables in spaces designed to support these same humans. 

Saying everyone is welcome as a volunteer is different from ensuring everyone is welcome. 

In recent qualitative research out of the United Kingdom which collected the stories of BIPOC volunteers and compared them to the experiences of white volunteers. Black, Indigenous and People of Colour volunteers described environments where they felt they had to go over and above to prove their value, battle to make their voices heard, spend extra time and energy to fit in, experience consistent invoking of racial stereotypes and microaggressions. A black woman described her experience of volunteering - "it hurts, it hurts all the time" (Dr. Timbrell) 

Are you uncomfortable?

Maybe this felt like a lot, maybe you are currently composing an email to tell us exactly why we are way off base, maybe you are feeling defensive of yourself or your organizations. That is ok. Centre the voices of people in your organization who are underrepresented, do what they recommend, circle back to check to see what still needs to be done. There is not a checklist for solutions, a certification for completion and perfection is not possible so just start doing something. 

Keep learning.

Inspiration and information for this piece was taken from the below people and spaces:  

 

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