Coming to a Canada near you?

In honour of Canada Day this week, here is one thing on my wishlist for Canada – The Taproot Foundation.  What the heck is The Taproot Foundation you say?  Yes, it has nothing to do with dancing.


The Taproot Foundation

The concept behind this organization is so brilliant and common sensical you two will wonder why it hasn’t arrived in Canada.  Basically they match up skilled volunteers who volunteer their skills (eek – who taught that girl grammar) pro-bono to build the capacity of non-profit organizations.

Now if you live in Toronto Endeavour Consulting does this in a smaller way.  But no one does it on a systemic nation-wide manner in Canada like Taproot does in the  U.S.

We’ll return to this idea next week when we return to focus on the state of volunteering in Canada.

What do you think of this idea?  A no-brainer or ….Let us know!



Volunteer Basics Part 2

Finding the right  role

Part one of finding the right role is finding a good volunteer organization in general and a good volunteer organizational fit for you.  Ideally the organization has a manager or co-ordinator of volunteers who has a Volunteer Management certificate.  I remember our Fringe volunteer co-ordinator.  She did not have a volunteer management certificate but she made our training so much fun – it was a definite sign that the actual volunteering would be good.  They also had Volunteer Troupers of the day (Fringe is a 10 day arts and culture festival) which recognized troupers who had gone out of their way for the festival that day.  Other volunteers nominated them


Top 3 Tips

  1.  Do they know what you’ll be doing?  Believe it or not sometimes organizations are unprepared and don’t really know what you’ll be doing.  They should have a role description and be able to answer your questions.
  2. Did they tell you who to speak to if you have questions?  Did you feel welcome?  Again some organizations take their volunteers for granted.  A good volunteer organization will give you a contact and clear instructions on what to do if you have a question.  They will introduce you around the organization and orient you.
  3. Is it fun?  Do you feel valued?  Did they remember your name after your first week or ask after you if you missed a week?  Yes we volunteer to help others but it doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be a miserable experience

Check out your local Volunteer Centre or the Ontario Volunteer Network  for your local hub of volunteer organizations.  Don’t give up if they don’t return your call (yes it happens).  For all the duds there is a volunteer role in the rough – a diamond fit for you.

Have a great volunteer experience to share?  Please contribute here

Volunteer Basics – Part 1

Back to basics.  We now return to the nitty-gritty of volunteering and  will look at what you need to know to volunteer.  No you do not need to offer your first born (although some days you may want to).

Types of volunteering

Volunteering opportunities today run from micro-volunteering which refers to mini or small-time commitment volunteer tasks – to more time-intensive volunteer opportunities, such as travel destination volunteering.  Now there is definite debate on the actual community benefits to ‘voluntouring’ so do your research first.  Here is a utube video visiting one side of the debate; But something like volunteering at Hollyhock helps the organization and the volunteer.

So how do you find the right volunteer organization and role?  Provide your comments here and we’ll revisit this next week.


Volunteering in Canada – in Crisis?

The word crisis here may be somewhat inflationary.  Nonetheless in 2010 a report written by Volunteer Canada noted some increasing gaps in volunteer services desired and the ability of organizations to meet these needs.  Simultaneously a drop in the size of  the Canadian population volunteering (3% drop from 2010 to 2013)  was noted  via Statistics Canada’s Data on Giving, Volunteering and Participating in Canada.  This data is only accrued every three years – the next collection occurring in 2016.  At that point we’ll be able to say more about the slide.

Who cares about gaps or drops in volunteers?  Well, the nonprofit or charity sector in Canada is a $50 billion industry.  Many non profits count on volunteers to fulfill their mission.  TD Economist puts the economic value of volunteering in Canada at $50 billion in 2012. Yet does Canada have a volunteer strategy or do the provinces have a strategy?  No, at least not that I have found.  The infographic below belongs to Ontario’s Volunteer Action Plan but further information on such a plan beyond that a plan was announced and starting could not be found (emails to the Ministry and Minister went unanswered).

Ontario’s Volunteer Action Plan – more information to come?
Graphic source:

Do you have more information on a national or provincial volunteer strategy?  Let us know in the comments section.


Why Volunteer

Welcome back.  Did you think of a famous Canadian volunteer?  What about Terry Fox?  Would you consider him a volunteer?


Terry Fox, Marathon of Hope.  (File photo – LFPress Aug. 12/15)

Maybe we’d  better find a definition for the term.  The following definition derives from Energize: a blog created in the U.S. for global volunteers and leaders of volunteers.

Volunteer, noun – from the perspective of the doer:  Someone who gives time, effort and talent to a need or cause without profiting monetarily.

Volunteer, noun – from the perspective of the recipient of service:  Someone who contributes time, effort and talent to meet a need or further a mission, without going on the payroll.

Okay so why volunteer. Here are a few reasons off the top of my head.  Add yours as well before we meet in the next blog:

  1.  You care about the cause.
  2. To learn or develop new skills.
  3. To meet new people.
  4. To help others – and help you feel good.

Signing off, all for one and all 4 volunteering.


Why a Blog on Volunteering

Maybe you stumbled upon this page and thought, “why would someone write a blog on volunteering?  That’s so dull – so yesterday.”  Hmm, if you were asked to name the most famous volunteers of all time could you?  Surprisingly you may not be able to.  And therein lies the rub, are we taking our volunteers for granted.  Why should we care about volunteers?  Who even wants to volunteer or has the time to do so these days?

Over the course of the next nine blog posts we will together look a little bit closer at the status of volunteering in Canada.  How can Canadians volunteer?  Why do they volunteer?  What’s in it for me?  We will also look a bit at the larger picture, is volunteering in Canada under-resourced and if so to what extent.  Is volunteering in peril and who is watching.

In the meantime, can you name a famous Canadian volunteer?  See you in the next post.  Signing off, all for one and all 4 volunteering.

Can you name this famous volunteer? Hint he isn’t Canadian

Clip Art by Phillip Martin