Tag Archives: yeg

Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards

Do you know an outstanding volunteer that deserves recognition? Nominate that person for a Stars of Alberta Volunteer Award! The awards are given to exemplary volunteers that have made a lasting impact on their communities. There are two awards presented in each category of: youth, adult and senior.  The ceremony takes place on Dec. 2017, which marks International Volunteer Day.

To nominate a volunteer, you will need:

  • Letter of Nomination submitted by the nominator
  • Completed Nomination Form signed by the nominee and the nominator
  • Completed Critical Information (see Nomination Form for details)
  • Completed list of references

Visit Alberta Culture and Tourism and fill out a nomination form. Forms are due September 15. 

#yegvolunteers

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What you need to know about working in the nonprofit sector

In some ways, working in the nonprofit is similar to working for a typical business: they maintain similar departments like administration, human resources and management and employees are expected to have the same skill sets as they would working for-profit. The major difference of course, is the bottom line. A nonprofit’s goal is to further their mission while a typical business aims to make a profit.

If you’re thinking about dipping your toes in the nonprofit sector, here are a few things you should know before you apply.

  1. Increased job satisfaction: Those who choose to work in the nonprofit sector are typically passionate about helping others and bettering their community. If you’re hired at an organization that’s mission you are genuinely interested in, you’ll experience immense job satisfaction when you see your hard work come to fruition. For instance, if you’ve had a hand in creating an initiative to decrease homelessness in your city, you’ll be gratified to see those numbers reduce.
  2. Your skills are transferable: Before you dismiss a nonprofit position because you don’t have experience in the sector, understand that past work or university experience is valuable to the sector. While it is useful to be knowledgeable of the sector and acquire special skills such as fundraising, capacity-building and grant-writing, nonprofit organizations operate similar to businesses and therefore, need individuals with similar skills. Do you have experience in a management or leadership role? Apply to be a volunteer manager. Are you an English or Communication major interested in working for a nonprofit? Organizations need people like you to further their message and reach their target audience.
  3. Relationships are vital: This is standard in any organization, but in the nonprofit sector, relationships are crucial to move your organization’s mission forward. Nonprofits cannot operate sufficiently if they are sequestered into their own bubble. Prepare to become familiar with those working towards similar goals, meet workers in your field you can bounce ideas off of and maintain relationships through networking events. It makes all the difference when you need help spreading your message!
  4. Be wary of burnout: Because nonprofit employees are so passionate about the cause they are working for, they often don’t know when to slow down. Employees can only work at full capacity if they’re well rested and anxiety-free. Take your vacation days, don’t come in when you’re unwell and ensure you can manage your workload.
  5. You won’t get rich: Unfortunately, this is the bad news. Nonprofits work with minimal budgets and you won’t be striking gold when working for an organization where profit isn’t the end-all-be-all. And, many nonprofits are funded by external sources (different levels of government, larger organizations, etc.) and this funding can fluctuate. Nonprofits are not averse to job and financial insecurity
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What Volunteer Managers Want you to Know

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.

  • Screening comes first: Organizations must screen every volunteer to ensure the position is right for them and ensure volunteer safety. Processes vary for different organizations but expect to go through an interview, police check and orientation before you start a volunteer role. You can also use the screening process to see if an organization is right for you by asking questions and observing their practices.
  • Your skills and interests matter: Think of your skills and hobbies – you can utilize those in your volunteer role. If it’s not obvious how you can use your skills, talk to the volunteer manager about what you can contribute. Your interests might be the perfect match for an organization’s need.
  • The organization needs you: Every volunteer is a vital member of the organization. Being punctual and present at assigned shifts or events contributes to the success of each effort. If there’s an emergency or you’re sick, let your volunteer manager know you won’t be at your shift.
  • You’re appreciated: Volunteer managers want to recognize your contributions to the organization. They might host a volunteer appreciation event, send thank you cards or give a gift. You should participate in these events and engage with other volunteers. Your contribution matters!
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The Benefits of Volunteering and What to Expect

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

  • Volunteer application: The first step to volunteering is usually a basic application asking for your name, contact information, availability, emergency contacts and other information that relates to the volunteer role.
  • Interview: A volunteer interview is a great way for organizations and volunteers to learn more about each other. Volunteer interviews vary between organizations, but expect them to ask your motivation for volunteering and scenario questions related to the volunteer role.
  • Police Information Check or Vulnerable Sector Check: An organization may request your information to obtain a police information check or a child welfare check. A police information check is a screening tool that gives the organization information about your past criminal record. A vulnerable sector check lets the organization know if you have a police record of posing a risk to vulnerable people. Depending on your volunteer role, you may need one or both of these checks to ensure that you, other volunteers, and the people involved with the organization are all safe.
  • Training/Orientation: Organizations provide training and orientation to teach you more about their cause, staff and what you’ll be doing in your role. Attending training is important to get started on the right foot. Many training and orientation sessions are mandatory to begin volunteering.
  • Volunteer contract: A volunteer contract is the agreement between you and the organization. The contract might include the hours you are committing to give, your responsibilities as a volunteer as well as those of the organization.
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Government of Canada suspends CASL private right of action

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.

Overview

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:

  1. Consent
  2. Identification information
  3. Unsubscribe Mechanism

What is consent?

You must have the recipients consent to send a CEM. It can come in the form of:

  • Express: recipient agrees to receive CEMs
  • Implied: on the basis of a relationship between sender and recipient, or action taken by recipient
  • Not required: some CEMs are exempt from CASL or the requirement to obtain consent

Express Consent

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”

Implied Consent

A little tougher to decipher – Implied consent can be shown in a few different ways:

  • An existing business relationship
  • The recipient has purchased a product or service from you
  • Relationship is either ongoing or has ended not more than two years before CEM is sent (This is new starting July 1)
  • An existing non-business relationship
  • If a recipient has donated to, volunteered for or had a membership with sender
  • The sender must be a registered charity, political party – organization or candidate, club, association or voluntary organization
  • The relationship is ongoing or has ended not more than two years before CEM is sent (Again, new)

There are instances where CEMs are exempt from CASL. Here are some most related to nonprofits

  • Employees in same organization
  • Employees of different organizations about existing business relationship
  • Sent by registered charities for raising funds
  • Concerns ongoing subscription, membership or account
  • Delivering product/service preciously contracted for by recipient
  • Website Exemption – the email is listed publicly and you’re sending information related to them/their organization
  • Business Card – you have the email listed on their business card

*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

  • Investigate your databases – what is the basis of your consent? Who is implied and who is express?
  • Identify those relationships that will expire. Is the relationship ongoing? If the relationship ended, when did it end? Only implied consent arising from a relationship on or after July 1, 2015 (two years) will be valid
  • Implied consent can be used to obtain express consent (Express consent has no expiration)
  • Consider seeking express consent from implied recipients
  • Review your directors and officers liability insurance in the case of private right of action (This has been suspended)
  • Establish a written CASL policy
  • Keep comprehensive records
  • Implement staff training and involve senior management
  • Ask for legal advice if necessary
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Volunteering 101 – information for first-time volunteers

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.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What skills do you have?
  • How much time do you have to commit?

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.

  • What activities will you be performing?
  • Is there an interview process?
  • What is the length of commitment to this organization?
  • What is the schedule you will be working?
  • What flexibility exists around doctor’s appointments, emergencies etc.?
  • Is there any additional training or an orientation session that you have to attend?

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.

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Why nonprofit workers are susceptible to burnout

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:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Increased illness
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Isolation
  • Pessimism
  • Feelings of apathy/hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of productivity or poor performance

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.

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A Year in Review: The 2017 AGM

 

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:

  • Leading: Connecting boards and asking the question, how can the nonprofit sector work together province-wide and nationally on issues of importance?
  • Capacity Building: Tackling evaluation and funding, providing resources and skill building opportunities
  • Giving Voice: Speaking on behalf of Edmonton nonprofit organizations, researching issues that impact the sector, sharing opportunities for individuals and organizations
  • Volunteerism: Volunteer screening, recruitment and collecting and sharing volunteer stories

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.”

See the 2016 annual report. 

 

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Boost your nonprofit’s digital presence

“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:

  • Simple, agile and transparent
  • Engaging with organizations to reach outcomes
  • Leveraging their personal networks in service of mission
  • Using social media and online collaboration tools to make the world a better place

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.

  1. Define your audience

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.

  1. Define Measurable Objectives

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.

  1. Use Social Optimization

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.

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