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
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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.
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.
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
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; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYWl6Wz2NB8. 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.
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?
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.