Latest News | November 2022


Bridging the Gap - Helping Organizations Connect To Volunteers

Published: Nov 23, 2022 @ 2:15 PM

We continue to hear from organizations across the country that it is harder to find volunteers than ever before. However, as you can see from the image volunteerconnector.org continues to see growth in volunteer traffic.

Join us, December 14th @ 11:00-11:45 (mst),  for a conversation on why this could be happening and how volunteerconnector.org can help organizations overcome some of these challenges. This will be an informal conversational where we will share our thoughts and strategies, but will also look to you to bring yours.

Eventbrite - REGISTER FOR FREE.

 

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Developing An Anti-racist Approach To Volunteering - Guest Blog

Published: Nov 17, 2022 @ 10:40 AM

Strategies for inclusion and empowerment

It’s important to shape and equip volunteer-driven organizations and campaigns to serve diverse communities. To do this, organizations must commit to concrete actions that address structural and systemic racism and a lack of representation among volunteers. Dismantling racism takes more than words, thoughts, and prayers. True transformation in volunteering requires a commitment to address the structural and systemic barriers perpetuated by racism.

Data on diversity and racialized communities

Data and research, or the absence of it, are often cited as reasons not to act. There is a glaring need for more data surrounding racialized communities. The deliberate lack of data collection, or the weaponization of data (Milner & Traub 2021), have been tools for perpetuating racism in racialized communities. As Mutamba and Rock (2022) note, “A larger and disaggregated data set will give us better insight into the experiences of racism and colonization in the volunteer sector.” While there is a great deal of learning ahead regarding the challenges and barriers faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC), we must forge ahead, and use the information we have available to take steps toward anti-racism today.

Diversity and representation as a starting point

A simple way to begin is by researching the demographics of the communities you serve. You can then take steps to mirror them in your organization's diversity. Information on diversity within communities is available from the Government of Canada (2022). Take time to investigate and understand the immediate needs in those communities. Different municipalities like the City of Calgary (2022) have outlined community needs and made this information publicly available. Develop an understanding of how the needs of a community and the demographics of racialized individuals within that community are often correlated. This will provide a framework to understand whom you are serving, ways in which you can ensure their voices are heard, and how best to serve the needs of a community.

Four keys to adopting an anti-racist approach to volunteering

Education and implementation are important when developing an anti-racist approach to volunteering. The journey towards anti-racism is a cultural shift. This requires an understanding of what equity, diversity, and inclusion mean. It is important to acknowledge how each individual may contribute to racism and how our systems and structures perpetuate racism and inequality. This will inform you how to change your organization's approach to volunteering. Here are four keys you can focus on to start on the right path.

Move away from a colourblind approach

Historically, to promote equality, harmful and reductive “colourblind” practices were developed around the inclusion of racialized individuals.  “Not seeing colour” has the opposite effect regarding inclusion. It fails to acknowledge the individual by not understanding their unique and intersecting identities, experiences, or trauma. Further, “[diversity and inclusion] is more complex than just numbers. Simply adding more ‘colour’, does not create inclusive cultures in which BIPOC people can be authentic and thrive” (Roche & Passmore 2022). To empower any volunteer, regardless of race, it’s important to shift from a colourblind approach and acknowledge the unique identities of every individual.

Research intercultural definitions of volunteering

The more you develop an intercultural understanding of what volunteering means, the more you can have an impact in serving diverse communities. In his book Perspectives on Volunteering, Mario Roitters outlines the importance of understanding how different cultures perceive what it means to volunteer. An excerpt from the chapter on volunteerism in Latin cultures sheds light on the cultural differences that exist surrounding volunteering, “In Latin America, the problem lies in the fact that a certain number of these types of actions performed are considered merely good manners. Such actions rarely evoke the notion of volunteerism, as they do in the context of developed countries. Therefore, a voluntary act differs from one cultural context to another.” (M. Roitters 2017). Understanding these cultural differences will set your organization up for success in recruiting and retaining diverse volunteers.

Understand the barriers encountered by BIPOC volunteers

It's important to understand your volunteers' cultural and racial identities, the situations they are stepping into, and the communities they are trying to serve. This will allow you to navigate the risks of harmful and triggering situations. As Mutamba and Rock (2022) observe, “People across racial identities experience barriers to volunteering. BIPOC participants reported facing more barriers across every single category. There is not a single step in the volunteer screening practice that does not impose significant barriers for BIPOC participants.” In their study, Mutamba and Rock list several barriers, including police checks, access to first aid training, and owning a personal vehicle. Studies have shown that race and poverty often intersect to prevent social integration[NA1]  (Lin and Harris 2009). When we talk about seeing colour and understanding racial trauma, it is important to consider how your organization can help address these obstacles or explore alternatives that acknowledge the barriers racialized volunteers often face.

Develop anti-racist volunteer strategies through collaboration

Partner with BIPOC individuals within your organization. Empower them by inviting them to lead the change, yet be mindful of how it may contribute to their overall responsibilities and workload. Respect the choice of racialized individuals to abstain from driving this work. Offer education on topics surrounding racism, making sure to create a safe space for discussion. “The cornerstone for a productive and respectful conversation on racism or other related issues is centered on ensuring the psychological safety of everyone who is part of the conversation.” (Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion 2020). Awareness is grown through workshops, guest speakers, and BIPOC-written educational material.

Find local BIPOC-led organizations and learn from them, ensuring fair compensation. If your goal is to understand racialized communities and adopt strategies to better partner with and serve them, try to engage organizations already doing this work. Racialized individuals have been serving their communities for a long time. Partner with them, learn from them, and support the work they are already doing.

Set yourself up for success

The more you understand the complexities of racial identity and trauma in light of structural and systemic racism, the more you can equip your organization to take an anti-racist approach in volunteering. The success of any organization striving to take an anti-racist approach in volunteering will depend on how well it educates those in the organization, seeks out representation, and empowers BIPOC individuals to help drive change.

 

Guest Blogger

Nathan Ahamed

"Music, food, and technology each enable us to come together and find a sense of purpose, belonging, and identity. Through the written word and public speaking, it is my desire to build community and foster the deep desire we have to connect with each other."

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Your Next Volunteer Experience Might Be Right Here!

Published: Nov 17, 2022 @ 9:31 AM

There are new opportunities posted on VolunteerConnector every single day! If you are not seeing something that resonates with you check back the next day and no doubt something will be there that makes you excited to give your time. We occasionally feature here on the blog opportunities that we find interesting. Here are a couple that are fascinating us this week!

If you are free this weekend and in the Greater Toronto Area, check out Canada's largest HIV Youth Conference

Would be very cool to be a part of public art through this opportunity from Activism Through Technology and Art Society

 

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VolunteerConnector - Skills Features And More

Published: Nov 15, 2022 @ 1:52 PM

We've been busy working on new features. We're a charity and every new feature is built with the support of volunteers and funders and our subscribers so let's start with a big thank you to them!

We are making volunteering easier for everyone. This update includes a load of helpful features for organizations.

Subscribers can now recruit directly from a pool of skilled volunteers looking for opportunities that meet your criteria. This matching feature will make it easier for you to find volunteers. Better matches will lead to quicker connections with the right volunteers for your organization. Less time in admin, more time with actual humans!

With all of this connection to volunteers it can be difficult to stay organized! We now offer advanced sorting and filtering options for subscribers to make it easier to reach out to the volunteers you're already connected to.

 

** VolunteerConnector will always be free to volunteers. Organizations will continue to have access to our free features. We are looking for more support and if you'd like to join our community to support new and innovative supports to volunteerism Subscribe or Donate today.

 

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Volunteer Your Time, Yet Also Your Ideas - Guest Blog Part 2 of 2

Published: Nov 9, 2022 @ 1:17 PM

For Part 1 of 2 from Subibe please check it out here - Volunteer Your Time, Yet Also Your Ideas - (Part 1 of 2)

 

Volunteer Your Time, Yet Also Your Ideas - (Part 2 of 2)

You don’t have to be a Board member to contribute; most non-profit organizations will have Committees to tackle such areas and usually consist of Board members rather than other volunteers, aside from the realm of event participation. The reality is, if these Committee are to achieve their mandates, there is at times, a substantial amount of work required. Not all Board members have the time to dedicate to these endeavours. 

As such, allow me to suggest some ideas, and I do this knowing that not everyone will agree with my perspective. 

Imagine you were a non-Board member volunteer; you might not have a seat on a committee yet could you propose doing a client needs survey for the Marketing Committee? Or, how about a small research project on comparable organization job descriptions and salary ranges for the HR Committee?  Better yet, use your social media savvy to guide the organization with their \ Communication and PR strategy. Maybe you even have some insight on how they might improve their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) initiatives. Are you on the creative side and can contribute towards a video production or develop other marketing material? Moreover, training videos in any realm are always very useful. 

These objectives can be very specific with an objective estimated time to completion so if you can't manage a long-term commitment, it can almost be project based. Furthermore, some out there might think that their experience and CV might not carry enough weight to make it on to a Board. If you come in as a volunteer and work on initiatives or projects that garner great results, you might merit Board consideration. 

My three additional suggestions would be:

  • Consider your own time before making such commitments. In other words, don’t over commit to something you can’t deliver upon. 
  • If you are offering to do work that it will indeed involve work. 
  • Talk to someone who has done something like this before, especially if you are interested in a seat on the Board.  Anyone who has volunteered in such a role is already someone you know is willing to offer their time. They would likely offer it to you as well. Gain from their experience and maybe even learn from their mistakes. 

There is plenty of room to volunteer your time, yet also your ideas.

Subibe Choudhury

 

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Volunteer Your Time, Yet Also Your Ideas - Guest Blog

Published: Nov 2, 2022 @ 6:06 PM

For the next 2 weeks on the blog we welcome guest Subibe Choudhury, MBA, C.Adm., BCom. Founder and Principal Facilitator at Vis-à-Vis Leadership, Non-Executive Director and VP at AMCAL Family Services based in Montreal, QC. Author of 4 books available on Amazon Kindle. Subibe takes great pride in understanding that in today’s workforce, recognition, autonomy, proper health, and stress management, respecting diversity and differences and facilitating life balance are at the core of a humanistic approach to HR. His perspective on leadership can be summarized by one phrase, “leadership development starts with self-reflection.”

Volunteer Your Time, Yet Also Your Ideas - (Part 1 of 2)

A few years ago, when I was asked to put forth my candidacy for a seat on the Board of a local non-profit, my first reaction was, “I don’t think I have the time.”

Granted, like most people, I had done volunteer work throughout my life yet a seat on a Board seemed much more substantial and would require a sustained commitment. And, in truth, yes, such an opportunity does require a more sustained commitment than volunteering on occasion or for a one-off charitable event. And, let me just say, it is well worth it. Before I elaborate, for me, aside from engaging in a cause that I believed in, the opportunity needed to be one that was not just for the sake of placing on my CV. It needed to be an opportunity for me to contribute, yet also, learn and grow. We often hear the benefits of volunteering as an act of giving, yet from my experience, the rewards can go in both directions beyond what is typically considered. No doubt, your time, effort, and energy can be spent helping and contributing towards a good cause. Also, for your own benefit, you might meet new people and increase your socialization among many other typical benefits.
 

Digging a bit deeper, consider that a lot of non-profits function under tight budgets and face a lack of funding yet need to work in some respect as a business. These limitations may result in a lack of adequate staffing for the day-to-day work that needs to be done. The staff often wear many hats and that is where a volunteer that is committed and engaged can really make a difference in a non-typical way. Aside from working directly towards the cause or with clients, non-profit organizations must deal with Human Resources (HR), Marketing, Fundraising, Public Relations, Communication, Governance, Event Planning, Financial matters, Technology and more.

If you looked at the list above as a standalone paragraph, you might think I was listing the curriculum for a business school program. The beauty of this reality is two-fold.

First, if you have experience in these realms, your contributions can be greatly impactful and appreciated. Next, if you don’t have experience in these realms, this is an opportunity for you to join, learn and grow.

Stay tuned for part two next week!

Subibe Choudhury

 

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