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Interning and Learning

University and college students spend so much time listening to professor’s lecture about what kind of skills they need to attain a successful career. I was tired of listening and was ready to just “do.” In other words, I thought it was about time to put my academic training into action. Gaining valuable work experience while being a student can be difficult; having the SCiP program available to students is an invaluable, flexible resource.

Signing up for SCiP was easy; I received my user name and password in a few days and was able to browse open positions right away. There were lots of internships available, I looked for one that fit my interests and complemented my degree.  After formally applying and going through the interview process, I was notified I was the successful candidate for the position of National Volunteer Week Coordinator at Volunteer Alberta. Having the opportunity to be a SCiP intern with Volunteer Alberta has been a great experience.

As the National Volunteer Week Coordinator, I am responsible for handling all incoming applications and processing them. I’m fortunate to be working on a project that recognizes hard working volunteers across the province of Alberta; I am able to make a difference for volunteers and their communities. My position at Volunteer Alberta has provided me with unique learning opportunities that I would have not experienced elsewhere. Working as a team and independently, meeting deadlines, and learning new skills, are just a few of my highlighted gains from this internship. One of the best parts about my internship was the “hands on” experience. I was able to work with different people, working in different areas at Volunteer Alberta. I was able to develop my strengths and tackle my weaknesses while helping me discover where my true passion lies in the career world.

I hope other students and organizations have the opportunity to get involved with SCiP.

– Kassie Russell
National Volunteer Week Coordinator

Contributions of the Nonprofit Sector

Very interesting report on the nonprofit sector in Ontario:

Contributions of the NonProfit Sector

The nonprofit sector is an often-overlooked contributor to the Canadian economy. In 2007, the value-added or gross domestic product (GDP) of the nonprofit sector was $35.6 billion, accounting for 2.5 per cent of the total Canadian economy. This share increases to 7.0 per cent when hospitals, universities and colleges are included, reaching $100.7 billion in 2007.14 Excluding hospitals, colleges and universities, the nonprofit sector employs 600,000 people and has over five million volunteers, supporting a wide variety of sectors including health, education, environment and social services in Ontario. These same nonprofit organizations in the province have annual revenues of $29 billion, 45 per cent coming from earned income, 29 per cent from federal and provincial government grants and service contracts, and 26 per cent from gifts, donations and other sources.15

Most nonprofit organizations (53 per cent) in Ontario are completely volunteer-run, having no paid staff.16 We must not underestimate the contributions of volunteers to care for our elderly, retrain the unemployed, educate our children and care for our environment. Steps should be taken to ensure that these organizations continue to get funding. However, there is room for improvement in terms of streamlining administration and ensuring that accountability frameworks focus on outcome metrics. In addition, multi-year agreements can help create predictable budget cycles for nonprofit organizations.

Recommendation 8-17: Reform funding practices in the nonprofit sector to increase flexibility and reduce administrative costs by focusing on measuring outcomes rather than inputs.

There is also room for improving the responsiveness of the government to the nonprofit sector. The Commission notes the precedent set by the Open for Business initiative that creates a single window through which business can engage all government ministries. We believe a similar model would be helpful to the nonprofit sector, which is just as varied and diverse as the private sector.

Recommendation 8-18: Provide a single point of access within government for the nonprofit sector to improve and broaden relationships across ministries that enter into contracts with the nonprofit sector, using a model such as the Open for Business initiative.

Read the full report here: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/reformcommission/index.html

Policy for Thought

A social policy framework for Alberta will be comprehensive in nature, reflect our shared values as Albertans, and guide collective efforts to support all Albertans to attain a high quality of life – where all Albertans have access to the programs and services they need, when they need them.  All Albertans share the benefits when people can participate as full members of our society.

The framework will focus on the social system that serves disadvantaged Albertans while considering how the whole system works to serve its citizens. The framework will provide a foundation for governments, communities, nonprofit organizations, and individuals to make decisions about the relevance and effectiveness of social policies and programs for Albertans.  It will lay the foundation for an accessible system that produces results – both for the Albertans who use it and for those who share in the benefits of a stronger society.

The framework will be fully realized by fall and be developed in an inclusive way and will articulate the roles that government, communities, nonprofit organizations, and individuals play in the system that serves Albertans.  It will communicate Alberta’s social policy direction to the public, both within and beyond our borders.

Some of the key questions that we, as a sector, need to provide strong, collaborate  answers to:

  • What do you see as the purpose of a social policy framework for Alberta?
  • What are the respective roles of government(s), communities, individuals, and business in achieving a quality of life to which Albertans aspire?
  • What kind of society do you want for yourself, your family and community?
  • What social and economic issues should be included in the framework?
  • Social programs are delivered by government, communities, and nonprofit organizations across the province. How would you like to be engaged during this process?
  • How would you define success?
  • How should we measure success?

Become a part of the conversation and send your answers and ideas to afisher@volunteeralberta.ab.ca.

To read the draft discussion guide: Social Policy Framework Discussion Guide

Got A Question? RCVO to the Rescue

Yesterday my co-worker wondered aloud what the difference is between incorporating an organization under the Societies Act and incorporating under the Alberta Companies Act.  With access to resources and links I set out to find an answer and a short time later I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t find a solution in the usual places. Then it dawned on me, the answer was right under my nose: the Learning Resource Guides available online at www.rcvo.org.

Feeling like a fool for overlooking one of Volunteer Alberta’s most reliable information resources, I immediately headed to the RCVO@Volunteer Alberta website. Not only did I quickly find the answer to my query, I also solved a few other related questions I had been working on. Every day I refer people and organizations to the Learning Resource Guides on www.rcvo.org, but it turns out they are a great resource for VA too. While there is no shortage of expertise among the staff at Volunteer Alberta, sometimes the simplest solution is the best one.

Every Learning Resource Guide is clear and concise while also being very informative and helpful. If you need information on any issue relating to the nonprofit/voluntary sector, the Learning Resource Guides are the perfect starting point. Today there are over 40 Learning Resource Guides at your disposal on www.rcvo.org and more will be added in the coming months to meet the growing demand.

Learning Resource Guides are certainly not the only way Volunteer Alberta provides indispensable information for the nonprofit/voluntary sector, but they are excellent quick reference guides for any person or organization with a question; even if that organization happens to be Volunteer Alberta.

–          Tim Henderson

SCiP’ing our way to National Volunteer Week!

National Volunteer Week is VA’s busiest week of the year; nearly all VA staff participate in the different events around the province, helping to recognize Alberta’s fantastic volunteers. Volunteer Alberta also administers Enhancement Funding, assisting communities and municipalities to celebrate local volunteers. Since NVW is the highlight of year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to involve a SCiP intern to help with getting out the Enhancement Funding.

The process of creating a job description was quite simple; over the past three National Volunteer Weeks, I’ve managed the Enhancement Funding application process so I found it quite easy to determine what our potential interns’ responsibilities would be. I wanted to make sure that we would engage her in a meaningful way and not just give her the task of compiling reports.

We had several applicants for the position, conducted interviews, and hired our intern!

On Kassie’s first day, the SCiP workbook really helped me orient her about a normal day at VA. I explained the project, detailed her roles and responsibilities, and she got right to work.

The Letter of Agreement was the only paperwork that SCiP required, but it was also a good opportunity to confirm VA’s expectations and have Kassie sign off on them, including her availability for the internship, how often we would expect her, and who to work with when she’s here.

Because National Volunteer Week is such a communications-based projects, we’ve been able to involve Kassie in our meetings with how to promote National Volunteer Week and Enhancement Funding. It’s been great to have a new perspective and enthusiasm, especially regarding a program that has been running for multiple years. The experience that she has had with school projects has been a great asset.

Having a SCiP intern work with the program team to help plan our activities for National Volunteer Week has given us a fresh perspective on one of Volunteer Alberta’s core programs. We’re continually on the lookout for other opportunities to bring interns into our programs as an essential component of our program planning.

Lisa Michetti
Member Engagement Manager

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