Latest News | COVID19

Never Enough- Five Years of Meals on Wheels Volunteer Shortages

Published: Mar 27, 2024 @ 6:00 AM

Volunteer Toronto has launched their much-anticipated Research Report: Never Enough, Five Years of Meals on Wheels Volunteer Shortages. Huge congratulations to Kasandra and the whole team at Volunteer Toronto for putting this together such enormous energy and effort to produce!

You should read the whole report, we wanted to highlight some things we thought were interesting. 

This report is such a cool discussion on intersectionality. The first layer being the humans requiring the services of Meals on Wheels and the various identities that they hold in our community. The labour that we put on these humans to access the supports they need to have quality of life is wild and undoubtedly exhausting. The other layer of intersectionality we found interesting was the weaving of the broad issue of food security, the world event of the Covid-19 pandemic and how those two issues collide with grassroots organizing, mutual aid and formal existing non-profits. There is such a layered story there and it is cool to examine how it has looked in a particular place at a particular time. 

Another aspect of the report that stuck out to us was using demographic data to potentially identify the “Ideal” Meals on Wheels volunteer and concluding that does not exist at the quantity needed to fill the need in community. It is cool to think about organizations applying this process when thinking about their own volunteer engagement and formulating opportunities. Furthermore, using that lens when deciding how reasonable it is to continue struggling in their volunteer recruitment. It seems like another strategy to tackle the shift in volunteerism. 

Finally, very helpful to return to a story five years later. We often see data come and go, highlights or trending topics pop up. Volunteer Toronto initially studied Meals on Wheels volunteer recruitment struggles in 2018, tried some interventions and supports and now in 2024 are revisiting. Certainly, gives weight to the recommendations that Volunteer Toronto has laid out. 

Thanks again for all your awesome work in the land of volunteerism Volunteer Toronto! 


Excavating A Volunteer Opportunity

Published: Feb 22, 2024 @ 1:29 PM

We recently facilitated a session around what engaging volunteers looks like in 2024, it occurred to me mid conversation that perhaps there needs to be more of an explicit conversation around what first needs to be dissolved, unlearned, let go of. It is hard to build something new on the foundations of an old existence. It feels impossible with the pace of charitable sector life to take time to consider what needs to be stripped away. This is not a novel take to say there needs to be shift a bit away from doing, always doing to thinking and sitting. Unless people who engage other humans in making their communities thriving places take a good hard look in the mirror about how they’ve been doing what they are doing we will be in the same place in a decade that we are now. We have written previous blogs about how the oldest and long-standing organizations will have the hardest time navigating the shift in volunteerism that is playing out in live time. There seems to be a sense out there of a magical “thing” that will encourage more people to engage with a cause. Perhaps it is less about adding components and shiny recognition items and more about excavating the current opportunities for new growth. Here are maybe some helpful questions to ask when considering deconstructing a volunteer opportunity. 

Why do we meet when we meet? 

Do we need to meet this often?

Could this work be delegated differently? 

How could technology be utilized to help support this work?

Do our current volunteers speak positively about us in the community? 

How would be like to be thought of?

Is there a financial burden to this role?

Is the time commitment a reasonable ask? 

Who is being excluded from doing this role?

How is this role directly connected to helping the community?


Empathy During COVID-19

Published: Apr 7, 2020 @ 7:26 PM


Thank you for all you do in community. I won’t say “these are trying/challenging times” because these times are . . . oh right, don’t say it.

Volunteering is Hope

One of my favourite shows, and one I’ve been binging lately is Star Trek. So I can’t help thinking “What if the world were like Star Trek?” What do you mean, the part about flying through space? Nope, the part about humans doing whatever they can to explore and extend their capacity to care. Well, we are seeing that right now all over the place!

How do I know? Well, we have seen the interest on VolunteerConnector double each week in the last few weeks. People want to help one another. This is such a great story of how we all respond as neighbours in our moments of crisis and need. It gives me hope that we are ever moving closer to a truly empathetic society, possibly the promise of Star Trek. (I know there’s lots to leave on the cutting room floor, like story lines that drag on!)

So What? What can people who engage volunteers do?

The only answer is adapt. Organizations aren’t anything without the people in them, so look after yourself and your team. There’s lots of wisdom out there to help you make good choices. Especially the stuff about staying home for non-essential workers. If you’re thinking about engaging your volunteer team, and possibly even expanding it right now, this requires an adaptation. We suggest doing three things:

  • Take account of your needs to recruit and get the message out there with a post on the VolunteerConnector. Maybe you are still requiring a new board member for that postponed AGM. Really focus on the needs right now and try not to feel pressure to create busy work for volunteers. We wouldn’t want to accidentally encourage people to be breaking physical distancing guidelines.
  • Think about your experience in working from home. You’re trusted with access to files and email address and all sorts of thing. So many people at home have capacity to help and want to. Can we extend the systems that are currently working for us paid humans to those we trust to volunteer?
  • Do you see a lot of informal volunteer movements? Feel free to post the opportunity on VolunteerConnector to get an extra helping hand. If you can’t do it then simply forward this to that self organizing effort, or tag us @volunteercal so we can help spread the word.


Do you find yourself needing to be more organized with your front line response? Your organization or community effort can always post for free on the VolunteerConnector to recruit. But did you know our scheduling and tracking tools are free during covid-19?

  • simply sign in,
  • click an UPGRADE button,
  • use the upgrade code "COVID19" to
  • start free scheduling and tracking features!

Please forward this message on to any of the community organizers out there so they can get connected to the tens of thousands of people who are ready to help. If they need support in getting connected then we are here to help at

Volunteering Teaches Empathy

I remember learning about empathy from Star Trek. Empathy is something only humans can provide. While the promise of the machines taking over is ever present (yes, I watch too much science fiction), we know that to have and deliver empathy is a human quality. It’s a great time to try to understand one another, and see the world from another’s perspective. I think our instinct to reach out and be neighbourly, to volunteer our time, is empathy in action. My Star Trek dreams may be a bit far-fetched, but a world where we all provide for each other is not and this crisis is proving that to me daily.