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!
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