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Value Of Digital Transformation

Published: Jul 10, 2023 @ 2:22 PM

Have you ever wondered what the value of a digital transformation looks like? Well here are some numbers to answer that question. It's not always our fav, in this sector, to quantify in $$ the value of the work . . . but occasionally a board or a funder requests it to gain a better understanding of the impact or reach of the organization.

  • The value of volunteer labour provided by our matching services is estimated to amount to $1.6 billion, since September 2019 when we began tracking this measure.
  • Over the same period of time, the cost savings for organizations who used our recruitment services was estimated at $9.0 million.
  • Regional partners, our peer capacity building organizations, across Canada saved an estimated $4.7 million through our collaboration efforts.

For every dollar investors contribute to Propellus we return 486% in cost savings and labour value to the sector. These staggering figures reflect the value of long-term collaboration and the power of digital transformation inside the charitable sector. (**compared to 31% in 2016)



Gaining New Views

Published: Jul 4, 2023 @ 3:00 PM

Guest Blog by Rayyan Hussain. a grade 10 student who enjoys volunteering. 

Volunteering is a great opportunity to learn about the perspectives of others, learn new skills, and build strong community ties. By being a volunteer who works with others on a regular basis, I’ve learned that people have diverse perspectives on issues and can bring valuable knowledge to conversations. For example, during my time working as a surveyor for my local YMCA, I was informed by an individual who has a mobility disability that the YMCA needs to be more accessible for those who have physical disabilities so they can remain active and live a healthy life. Without this interaction, many people, myself included, would not have thought about how accessibility may not be great for everyone. Alongside gaining new viewpoints on an issue, volunteering is an ancillary to learning new skills. By volunteering, I’ve gained many new skills that I continue to use for projects and assignments. For example, I learned to keep track of ballots and votes while volunteering for student vote at my school during this recent provincial election. This ability to multitask and tabulate different papers has helped me learn valuable organization skills that I continue to use today. Finally, volunteering builds strong community ties by bringing youth closer to others around them. I built strong community ties during a cleanup project at Fish Creek Park when I worked with other people my age to pull out invasive weeds from around the park. I learned about how similar I was to them and I continue to work with them on various volunteer projects to this day by maintaining communication with them. By volunteering, I’ve learned that there are people whose background shift their perspectives, learnt valuable skills that continue to help me to this day, and built a community of fellow volunteers.


Better The World By Bettering Yourself

Published: Jun 29, 2023 @ 11:44 AM

Is it possible to change the world? Some days it takes more convincing than others. Our world is a big place with a long list of needs. The task feels rather daunting. Yet, we can often quantify change through compounding small actions. If you want to change the world, challenge yourself to shrink your scope. Look to better yourself first, and by doing so, equip yourself to change the world around you. All it takes is one person to impact a community. If you want to start the journey of self-improvement, here are three intentional behaviors to engage in.

Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is a great starting point to self-improvement. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can improve emotional and mental health—even going so far as to have long-lasting positive effects on brain chemistry and behavior. There are two ways to make this a regular practice in your daily life.

  • Journaling. Every day, write down a few things you’re grateful for. If you are someone who already journals, add this to your routine. Set a static number and challenge yourself to reflect on new things daily.
  • Meditation. Set aside time each day and meditate on what you are grateful for. You can also take this a step further and say them out loud. Use sticky notes or a reminder on your phone to help make this a regular practice.

As a chef by trade and someone who enjoys good food, I remind myself to be grateful every time I open the fridge. It’s a simple practice that keeps me mindful that having food to eat and access to clean drinking water is a privilege. Practicing gratitude daily can increase your positive impact on those around you by increasing empathy and compassion for those in need.

Engage in selflessness

If you genuinely desire to see a change in the world around you, shifting your focus from inward to outward is vital. A National Library of Medicine study links selfless behavior patterns with happiness. While many other factors can weigh in and findings should not be considered definitive, their conclusions about relating selflessness to distinct happiness are fascinating. While selflessness is easier said than done, you can start by applying two simple practices in your everyday life.

  • Random acts of kindness. There are opportunities to meet needs around us every day. These acts can be as simple as helping someone carry groceries, shovel the snow, or offer to babysit, housesit, or dog walk. This practice will train you to become aware of the needs in your community and city.
  • Uplift others with words. An encouraging word to a friend, romantic partner, co-worker, or stranger can be a monumentally positive boost in their day. The more we learn about verbal encouragement, the more research shows the massive positive impact it can have on our lives.

While these two practices are theoretically simple, they might be new learned behaviors. Start off easy by practicing with trusted individuals you consider a safe space and slowly gain the confidence to make them commonplace in your everyday life.

Increase generosity

The third and final behaviour for self-improvement is generosity. While directly benefiting others, this practice has a significant positive impact on those who engage in it. One study out of UC Berkeley found that generosity activates the same reward pathways as food and sex. If you desire to be more generous, you can put generosity into action in two main ways.

  • Give your money. People, communities, and organizations require money to exist. There’s no way around it. Some simple ways to engage in generosity with your money are to buy someone a coffee, donate to the food bank, or find an organization that serves in an area you are passionate about and contribute to them.
  • Give your time. Time can be equally or more valuable than money. For some without means, it can be easier to give—but sometimes, it can also be scarcer. You can be generous with your time by visiting an elderly person, participating in a neighbourhood cleanup, or finding a local organization needing volunteers.

Generosity in both areas is a significant step to making the world around you a better place. In theory, any need can be met by one of these two things. If you want to start practicing generosity, consider what you can offer, research causes you are passionate about, and decide how to best give.

Be the change

The exciting thing about gratitude, selflessness, and generosity is that these three behaviors are wildly contagious. Others will notice what you are doing and the way it is changing how you go about life. The positivity from these three practices will be noticeable, tangible, and highly effective in enacting positive change, both within yourself and the world around you.

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change toward him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi.



National Indigenous People's Day

Published: Jun 22, 2023 @ 2:33 PM

Yesterday was National Indigenous People’s Day and was there every celebration to be had! This is the view I had the privilege of taking in from the home of the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc people, the Akisqnuk First Nation, Shuswap Band the chosen home of the Columbia Valley Metis. What is not captured in this picture if the joy and energy of the day. The beautiful bead work, the awesome talents of the hoop dancers, the delicious smell of NDN tacos and the sounds of laughter. The vibrancy, resiliency and life force that felt very special to be a part of.

Yesterday was also a time of reflection for those of us working on being accomplices. Acknowledging that this work is generational, but it is constant and requires vigilance in all aspects of our lives and work. We are holding these words by Nikki Silvestri close to our hearts as we enter the summer season of growth and respite. 

“Look at the places you withhold the truth. That’s where you contribute to our world staying as it is. That’s the nonlinear nature of how culture shapes socio-economics. If you’re tolerating that person you need to fire; if you’re allowing that toxic relationship dynamic to go unchecked; if you’re procrastinating on a necessary hard decision. 
Complicity in one area of life, in the micro, echoes complicity in the macro. Racism exists because our collective micro complicities snowball into societal complicities.” - Nikki Silvestri (Soil & Shadow).                                                        

Finally, if you have the means to share wealth, please check out The Feast House. 


Happy Pride!

Published: Jun 16, 2023 @ 2:25 PM

Happy Pride!!!

We are very excited to celebrate Pride with all organizations! Some ideas of things to do this month and every month! 

Give your time to organizations that align with this cause (use the LGBTQIS2+) filter on VolunteerConnector)

Give your money to organizations like the Rainbow Railroad that help people get to safety.

Learn about the history of Canada through this interactive map

Search 'pride' on google, trust is a fun time.

Attend all the awesome events happening across the country and celebrate! 



Data Tells A Story

Published: Jun 7, 2023 @ 2:30 PM

Last week we shared some of the data from the Connector. As we said we are looking for you to pose us questions that you may be curious about. We are employing an AI tool to help glean the answers and as we ask it more questions, the more it will learn and be able to suggest what we might want to know. So ask away . . . by just emailing us at

Here are the slides we shared with you last Thursday . . . 

Slide 1 - Volunteer Motivations

From our research "An Anti-Racist Approach to Volunteering" we found that volunteer motivations have shifted significantly. In the past those top three things have been more self-focused, building my network, build my skills and do something that makes me feel good. These new three motivators – impact, connections and belonging – are more other focused, outward focused.

Slide 2 - Volunteer Availability

We have seen an increase, year on year, to the volunteers looking to find a new opportunity. It is up and that tells us that volunteers are available. We also see that organizations calling for volunteers is down. This may be attributed to the increase demand on services and decreased funding those organizations are experiencing. Our suggestion is think about the changing motivations, demographics, preferences and actions of volunteers. Your ability to attract new people to your cause depends on it.

Slide 3 - Volunteer Demographics

We have seen a significant shift in the age demographics of volunteers. Over the years the distribution of who (from which age categories) was volunteering came in pretty steadily the same way. That all changed once the pandemic arrived and has remained. While some suggest that "Boomers" are no longer volunteering, the truth appears to be more nuanced. Most age groups just aren't volunteering as many hours as they once did. Meanwhile the growth in volunteer numbers seen above can be attributed to "Gen Z" as they leave high school and seek to engage in community.

Slide 4 - Volunteer Preferences

Maybe this one is a bit obvious but bears repeating anyway. The pre and post pandemic story of volunteering includes an increased interest in Virtual Volunteering. As you can see below, it's not that In Person Volunteering has disappeared, it's just that volunteers expect options now that also fit in with the rest of their lives. We also see these trends in work and flexible work arrangements . . . guess what, volunteering isn't different because it's still about people in both cases. Note the obvious spike in interest when pandemic hit followed by a stabilizing interest that is higher than pre pandemic.

Slide 5 - Volunteer Actions

This is where we see a strong relationship between Volunteer Demographics (age) and Volunteer Actions (mobilizing compassion). This "new" generation of volunteers are very aware of climate action and social justice. They are aware of when something new happens or changes in the world around them. They immediately begin searching for ways to "mobilize their compassion" toward those causes, whether it be:

  • for Refugees following the war in Ukraine,
  • or support for Anti-racism following Black Lives Matter marches,
  • or support for Indigenous justice following residential school gravesites,
  • or Climate action following BC wildfires

All of these examples saw a spike in interest often followed by a sustained increase in interest that we label "mobilizing compassion".

In conclusion

There is no conclusion. Your volunteer program may not be designed for the changing interests of today's volunteer. There is no one single strategy we can give you that says "hey, here is how to ensure people care about your cause and joins you in that care". What we can say is there are a LOT of your neighbours, next door and across the country, that are looking to engage their passion and compassion, looking for that sense of belonging and impact, looking to make a new connections with you.

Post your opportunities on the Connector, keep reading our blog which includes Guest Blogs providing guidance and encouragement, and consider joining any of our upcoming coaching sessions which lets us dig deeper with you!

Your VolunteerConnector Team


Download - VolunteerConnector Presentation: 20230601 Data Tells A Story (ppt slide deck)



Six Years Of Journey - Guest Blog

Published: Jun 5, 2023 @ 1:54 PM

We will call this a Guest Blog but the truth is this is a blog written by someone who has been more than a guest. Sally Mansour has been an active member of our board and volunteer for over 6 years. Thanks for all the support Sally and for sharing your parting thoughts with us!


It’s June 1st, 10:25am and our AGM just ended - yup, always done in an under an hour to ensure we respect people’s time! 

Everyone can relate to the minute after an AGM is over. I believe the phrase is: “ahhhhhhh.’ But this time feels different for me… 

I just wrapped up 6 years (over 3 terms) at VolunteerConnector as a board director, and I already miss the amazing people I got to work with: a small but mighty team of staff, and an equally small but epic team of board directors. 

The organization evolved dramatically over the last 6 years. It went provincial, then digital, then national. Why hasn’t VolunteerConnector gone global, you ask? Well, I don’t count that idea out… I’ve stopped trying to predict the imaginative minds of the staff. Sounds too challenging and complex to me, and to the staff, that probably sounds like fun. 

But back to what they did do…

Over the last 6 years I witnessed a true metamorphosis. VolunteerConnecter (the Volunteer Centre of Calgary, formerly known as Propellus) went from serving thousands of people regionally to hundreds of thousands of people nationally. That alone was reason enough for the organic change in the name. But there was more to the name change than that. The name change was about ‘putting the volunteer at the centre of everything we do’ - a phrase we heard, said and wrote at every meeting. 

Our roles on the board went from nice and slow, to buckle your seatbelts! It went from regularly meeting in person, to relying on human connection virtually. It went from keeping up with the rhythm and changes of the sector, to drumming our own beat and leading a parade. 

That timeline wasn’t by design. It was expedited by the needs of the sector, the downward funding trends, and the rise of digital services. It was then much more dramatically expedited by the pandemic - who knew this magical tool for digital volunteer centres would be needed immediately? They did - the staff knew.

Hit after hit, after hit, the org stood the legit tests of time because innovation was the response of the staff, and adaptability was the response of the board. (I don’t say that boastfully - we really had no choice!) And now myself and two others who have been on the board for 6-7 years, Nyla Fuller and Jordan Kiss, step away knowing the new board and staff will take the org to its greatest potential. And we will have fun watching because it truly is another remarkable ‘made in Alberta’ story.

I share this all because if anyone reading this is thinking about being on a volunteer board, I want to say: DO IT! I highly recommend it. The one piece of advice I offer when people ask me how to pick a board is: don’t look for a board that looks like you, talks like you, thinks like you, and works like you. Look for a board that welcomes you, values you, challenges you, supports you, and teaches you. If you find that board, ride it out - the good and the bad days. It will empower you to be unapologetically yourself in other areas of your life, it will remind you of your gifts and strengths, and it will always feel like rewarding work. 

That’s what I got out of being on the VolunteerConnector board. Despite having been in the charitable sector for a couple decades and having been on other boards, I learned so much about the charitable and volunteer sector, about making complex business and governance decisions, about strengthening my EQ in a virtual workplace, and about marketing products in the digital space. 

I also learned more than I ever hoped for as we underwent antri-racism, diversity, equity, inclusion, training… and then learned even more when we actually implemented the knowledge we gained into our operations. 

I got to know some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever worked with. I am forever grateful for the friendships, professional connections, and unique bonds I have made along the way. They truly were a pillar of my survival these past few years and through the pandemic.

So yes, if you’re looking to find a unique way to grow, connect, contribute, build, value, learn, and even laugh, find a volunteer board role that resonates with you, apply confidently knowing that you are needed, and give it a go!

To all the staff, board members, contractors, and public committee members I worked with over the last 6 years at VC, thanks for being such epic explorers and navigators with me on this journey! 

#volunteer #board #boardofdirectors #canada #alberta #calgary #antiracism #inclusion #diversity #connection


2023 AGM Complete

Published: Jun 1, 2023 @ 12:58 PM

Thanks to everyone for a successful AGM this morning! We have a few new board members, thanked those who have been with us for so many years and of course shared some of the story of data.

As a reminder, we are seeing a huge shift in volunteer motivations, demographics and the way volunteers are "mobilizing their compassion". We will share a few more slides next week and add a couple of thoughts. In the mean time, if you have a question about volunteering and the trends right now . . . ask us. Let's see if we can get the data to inform your engagement story!



World Refugee Day

Published: May 30, 2023 @ 6:00 PM

World Refugee Day falls on June 20 each year and celebrates the strength and courage of those who have had to flee their home country to escape. The theme of this year is “compassion and hopes to create a world where everyone can be more connected by being compassionate towards others.”

Our friends at CLIP have created an easy way to support this cause through messages of hope.

If you are in Calgary and have a spare couple of minutes this week then fill this out and send it to CLIP. If you are reading this from somewhere then check out The UN Refugee Agency list of events



Election Time - Prioritizing What Matters

Published: May 25, 2023 @ 12:42 PM

It's election time in Alberta. Many feelings surround this event, and not all of them are positive. For some sectors in the non-profit world, an election can mean uncertainty. A new government could mean new priorities, budgets, and funding. As a result, there is a level of fear and concern, not just for agencies that do good in many communities but also for the jobs and livelihoods they provide. It’s a shame that issues surrounding volunteerism, or even meeting basic needs, have become partisan instead of just being about helping people. Sometimes it's hard not to feel discouraged.

At times, it can feel as if we care more about the colour of the campaign billboard than the greater good. It's no longer about doing what's best; it's about being right. More than ever, we need to learn, or relearn, how to have healthy discourse. When we stop trying to understand where others are coming from, when we stop caring about opinions and perspectives different than ours, we lose our ability for empathy. Regarding politics, astrophysicist turned pop culture personality Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “Without rational discourse among ourselves and our elected representatives, we are non-interacting stovepipes on the brink of burning down the house.”

Committing to learning and understanding is vital if the goal is to better ourselves, our province, and our country. So let's get into the habit of hearing each other out. Let’s get into the practice of having compassion for each other's struggles and perspectives. Let’s make empathy commonplace in our discourse. If you're struggling with your decision to vote, I would encourage you to do two things. First, use the Vote Compass tool to see where you might lie on the political spectrum. Second, do your research. If you value community building and support for those in need, research different parties' policies surrounding those topics.

So where can you go from here? Find the needs in your community and equip yourself and those around you to meet them. How can you make a difference? Don’t wait for someone else to tell you where you should serve. VolunteerConnector exists for this very purpose, a way to connect volunteers to causes. If you are passionate about something, about helping somehow, there is more than likely a space for you to serve.

As always, I wish to encourage everyone reading to remember our privilege. Our privilege of democracy is the freedom to choose our leaders and not feel threatened or afraid to go out and vote. So honor this privilege, don’t take this freedom for granted, and go vote.



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