Did you know most organizations have a volunteer manager? This is often the first person you talk with at an organization. Their job among other things is to recruit, train and manage volunteers. Here’s the scoop on what volunteer managers want you to know about volunteering.
The Benefits of Volunteering:
Volunteering is a way to give back to your community and impact the lives of others. The great thing about volunteering is that it also affects the life of the giver. These three benefits of volunteering may surprise you.
Health: Volunteering can have positive effects on your physical health. Volunteer Canada in their ‘Volunteering and healthy aging’ resource note that a study done of 500 volunteers over 30 years revealed only 36% of participants had a major illness compared to 52% of people who did not volunteer. Many volunteer activities involve being active and on your feet. Your physical health can get a boost just by volunteering.
Career & Professional Development: Volunteering is a great way to explore a new career path and gain valuable professional experience. Find a volunteer role where you can develop the skills you’d like to apply in your professional life. You can also list your volunteer experience on your resume to help you describe your interests and personality to a potential employer in a different way.
Social: Meeting new people can be difficult. Volunteering is a great way to make new social connections. The great thing about meeting friends while you volunteer is they probably share similar values and interests since you’re volunteering for the same organization.
These are just three examples but you never know what else volunteering might do for you, the benefits are endless!
What to expect from organizations when applying to become a volunteer
UPDATE: The Government of Canada is suspending the implementation of certain provisions in Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) in response to broad-based concerns raised by businesses, charities and the not-for-profit sector.
The provisions, known as private right of action, would have allowed lawsuits to be filed against individuals and organizations for alleged violations of the legislation.
The provisions were scheduled to come into force on July 1, 2017, but have now been suspended.
The Government supports a balanced approach that protects the interests of consumers while eliminating any unintended consequences for organizations that have legitimate reasons for communicating electronically with Canadians.
For that reason, the Government will ask a parliamentary committee to review the legislation, in keeping with the existing provisions of CASL.
CASL is clear as mud – at best. Knowing whether you need implied or direct consent is perplexing and a maximum $1 million dollar penalty for violation is downright frightening. So, let’s break it down and outline what your organization needs to know to be protected.
Nonprofits need to know about CASL, or Canada’s Anti-Spam Law as it applies to commercial electronic messages. These are messages intended to encourage participation in a commercial activity such as: purchase a ticket, purchase a membership, etc.
How to send a CEM
To send a CEM to a person, business or organization in Canada, you must have three things:
What is consent?
You must have the recipients consent to send a CEM. It can come in the form of:
Express consent is the gold standard. For nonprofits, this could look like: a person signing up for your newsletters, or perhaps a recipient clicking “Yes, I would like to receive emails from your organization”
A little tougher to decipher – Implied consent can be shown in a few different ways:
There are instances where CEMs are exempt from CASL. Here are some most related to nonprofits
*ID and unsubscribe mechanism included on platform
What’s changing on July 1?
It’s the end of the transition period for implied consent. Now, the general rule is: Consent is implied two years after relationship ends.
Private Right of Action See above, this has been suspended by the Government of Canada
This is the scary part. Any individual who is the victim of a CASL violation can sue the organization who has violated CASL. Before July 1, only the CRTC, OPC and Competition Bureau could prosecute. For CEM provisions, this is $200 per violation, maximum $1 million each day violation occurred. This could be bad for CEMs sent to a wide range of people. There is potential for class action lawsuits and there is potential director/officer liability. Your organization is also responsible for all violations committed by employees acting in scope of their authority.
The steps your organization should take
So you want to volunteer. That’s great! Have you decided how to launch yourself into the unknown world of volunteerism? Here are some tips to get you started.
Step 1: Self-reflect:
Take the time to answer these three easy questions.
After reflecting, your passion for animals and photography could lead you to volunteering as an event photographer for a local animal organization. Alternatively, your reflection could lead you to discover other skills you want develop and different causes to explore. Self-reflection is a great way to frame your volunteer search and help lead you in the right direction.
Step 2: Do some research:
Now that you know what might interest you, its time to find an organization that matches. You can skip to step three if you already know were you want to volunteer. If you’re not sure, search volunteer matching sites such as govolunteer.ca or do an internet search of the volunteer area you want to pursue in your city. There are many organizations looking for volunteers so you could be overwhelmed with the results. However taking the time to search “animal organizations Edmonton” could very well lead you to discovering an organization you did not know existed.
Step 3: Ask questions
Once you’ve found an organization you like, contact them about their available volunteer opportunities. Be sure to ask questions to understand what the volunteer role entails. Here are some basic questions to frame your conversation with the organization’s volunteer coordinator.
Just like any new commitment, choosing the right volunteer opportunity doesn’t happen by accident. Be patient. Know what you want to give and what you want to get from the experience. Your first volunteer experience may be the beginning of a wonderful adventure.
For those who attended our Annual General Meeting on May 10, you will recall the lessons Beth Kanter taught us on how to remain calm and collected while working at a nonprofit organization. The nonprofit expert and co-author of The Healthy Happy Nonprofit, discussed how to prevent burnout and maintain optimal job performance.
So, why are those working in the nonprofit industry susceptible to burnout? Kanter says “sacrificing one’s health in service of a cause is a common narrative in the nonprofit sector.” People who work in the nonprofit sector are (most likely) not in it for the money. They are passion-fueled individuals who believe in the cause they are working for. Kanter says this can be a double-edged sword as nonprofit workers can be “so driven, they don’t stop to refuel or smell the proverbial roses or even notice they are experiencing symptoms of burnout.” Those working in the nonprofit sector view self-care as an indulgence when really, it is a necessity.
If you’re a nonprofit worker who hasn’t given self-care a second thought, it’s time you start. When is the last time you took a vacation or a personal day? If you can’t remember, you should assess yourself for common symptoms of burnout:
In the Healthy Happy Nonprofit Kanter outlines common symptoms of burnout in nonprofit workers:
If this sounds like you, don’t panic. It happens more often than we think. A number of factors cause burnout; some can be personal while others are directly related to working in the nonprofit industry. For instance, the “Nonprofit Starvation Cycle” which Kanter explains is a consequence of inadequate infrastructure that leave nonprofits barely functioning as organizations. “The vicious cycle begins with funders’ unrealistic expectations about how much money running a nonprofit takes and results in nonprofits misrepresenting their costs while skimping on vital systems.” And for many nonprofits, that puts personal health and wellness low on the priority list. Then, there is “Funder-Driven Stress” which is a lack of foundation funding for nonprofit talent infrastructure. If a nonprofit’s foundation is weak, it makes it difficult to provide support and meet the needs of the communities that organization serves. Other causes of burnout in the nonprofit sector include: lack of leadership development, overwork, overuse of technology and information overload.
Understanding that nonprofit workers are susceptible to burnout and stress is important when evaluating your own personal wellness. If you, or your organization as a whole, operates as a never-ending machine, it’s time to take a moment and reflect on your health, because in reality, if you are healthier as an organization and an individual you will be happier and more productive in the workplace.
It’s difficult to sum up a year’s worth of work in a single brochure. Last year, the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations spearheaded a number of projects and initiatives to strengthen the nonprofit sector in our city. The 2016 annual report showcases our past work such as the Moving to Action initiative, board-to-board networking and capacity building workshops, while focusing on what lays ahead for the nonprofit sector in Edmonton. Within the annual report there are four key themes:
At the Annual General Meeting, ECVO Russ Dahms explained in short, why our organization focuses on these key points: “It’s really about a strong vibrant community that is strengthened by an effective voluntary sector working with government and business.”
As for what’s ahead, ECVO recognizes that complacency is impractical in a rapidly shifting society; To be sustainable, organizations must adapt to these shifts. “When you think about the your organization and the work that you do, think down the road and ask the question what will sustainability look like?” asks Dahms. “It’s far better to create your path forward than to sit and stay static, old tight to the status quo.”
“Networked Nonprofits don’t work harder or longer than other organizations, they work differently. They engage in conversations with people beyond their walls — lots of conversations — to build relationships that spread their work through the network.” – Beth Kanter
On Thursday, May 11, Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations had the pleasure of hosting internationally renowned nonprofit expert, Beth Kanter for the Networked Nonprofit workshop. The goal is to be a networked nonprofit – but what does this really mean and how can organizations get there?
In short, Kanter says a networked nonprofit is:
Most of us would like to think we are masters of social media, but haphazardly pushing out content you find compelling isn’t enough. To be a true networked nonprofit, your organization must have a digital strategy: one that is intentional, targeted and meaningful. If your organization is jumping on the digital train, here are some tips that will help you define your strategy and set goals.
If you have a well-developed following, now is the time to deep dive into some analytics. It may sound intimidating, but understanding where your audience’s interests lay doesn’t have to be difficult. Twitter and Facebook have analytics built into their platform, so you can check out who is clicking what and when. From there, you can determine who your audience is and produce content that is both relevant and interesting to them, which will in turn, boost your engagement!
And, if you’re just beginning to gain followers, determine how you will attract the followers you want. For instance, if you’d like to attract volunteers to your organization, showcase volunteer experiences. Try posting stories and personal stories to intrigue those who may be interested.
Again, aimless tweeting isn’t effective. Ensure your tweets are purposeful and are bringing you closer to reaching a measurable goal. Perhaps you’d like to gain more followers, reach a target audience, or get more people to visit your website, whatever the goal is, write it down and track your progress.
Social media is interactive, a give and take platform. During your morning scroll, take the time to answer comments or questions directed at your organization, like or comment posts that your tagged in and take part in conversation that is relevant to your nonprofit.
While social media can boost your nonprofit’s presence in the digital community, it is not the end all be all. Traditional communication and meeting stakeholders and community members face-to-face still holds merit now, but in conjunction with a strong digital presence you will be well on your way to becoming a networked nonprofit.
If you’d like more information on how to become a networked nonprofit, check out Beth’s Blog – a handy resource for nonprofit organizations.
Beth Kanter, internationally recognized nonprofit expert, will be conducting a workshop in Edmonton on May 10, 2017 based on her book, The Networked Nonprofit. This workshop will help nonprofits to achieve greater impact for their cause.
Kanter will illustrate vividly how engaging in networks requires organizations to focus more on their mission within the community, than on the singular success of their own organization.
In a highly interactive setting Kanter will show how digital tools help nonprofits to network more effectively and at the same time increase transparency about the work they do.
This is not a how to use Facebook and Twitter workshop – this event is about strategy, attitude and impact.
To register for this 1/2 day interactive workshop (8:30 – 12:30) visit visit Eventbrite .
April 23 – 29 is a week set aside to recognize the contributions of volunteers across Canada. With over 12.7 million Canadians volunteering 13.3 million hours yearly, there are lots of reasons to celebrate.
A recent press release from Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism reminds us that “there is not a single Albertan whose life has not been touched by the contributions of a volunteer.”
On Saturday, April 22, Edmonton kicked off National Volunteer Week at West Edmonton Mall with ECVO’s annual Volunteer Fair. Representatives from 55 organizations gathered to meet with potential volunteers.
The excitement was infectious as Mayor Don Iveson kicked off the celebration with a proclamation of National Volunteer Week, followed by a traditional drumming performance by young drummers from the Oak Hill Boys Ranch.
The volunteer fair also marked the launch of ECVO’s 150 Volunteer Voices project, made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the Edmonton Community Foundation, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast. Throughout 2017, we will be gathering stories of volunteerism from local volunteers and sharing them on our website and in the media. During the Volunteer Fair we invited volunteers to step into our story and photo booth to collect their stories. We even had a canine volunteer from Dogs with Wings stop by to share his story (with a little help from his trainer). Watch for that story and 149 more on our Volunteer Page throughout the year.
If you have a volunteer story you would like to share, please contact us. We would love to be able to share your story and inspire other citizens to join Edmonton’s Volunteer movement.
So, not only during National Volunteer Week, but every week, we say thank you to the thousands of Edmonton volunteers who make a difference in our community and in our lives.
Happy National Volunteer Week!