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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

Are there Enough Volunteers in Alberta?

To mark National Volunteer Week, PrimeTime Television hosted Volunteer Alberta’s Executive Director Karen Lynch for a discussion around Alberta’s nonprofit/voluntary sector.

Click here to watch the interview

Volunteering 101 – open up to the awesome

From the Hinton Voice – April 14, 2011
Tyler Waugh

Karen Lynch was everything I’d hoped she would be as executive director of Volunteer Alberta.

She’s outspoken and doesn’t sugarcoat emerging and ongoing challenges within the volunteer world, but is equally optimistic about how boards and committees will adapt to those challenges.

Lynch spoke to around 100 people April 11 at a board of directors appreciation dinner hosted by the Town of Hinton at the Hinton Centre as part of National Volunteer Week.

The volunteer advocate and self-described board junkie pulled no punches in giving a realistic assessment of what too many boards are doing wrong.

Among other things she touched upon during the 40-minute presentation was the issue of marketing opportunities within an organization. She emphasized word of mouth in setting the tone for positive experiences. Sounds hokey, sure, but her example rang true to me.

How many times have we stood in a checkout line and either overheard a conversation or held one personally with somebody lamenting how they had to go to a meeting that particular night and how they’d rather be lounging in their chair in front of the television. Can’t say I haven’t been guilty of that myself. Lately, I have been pretty open about the fact that I am likely going to pull back on my volunteer commitments for a year or so. I’ve never thought about statements like that being misconceived as negative about my volunteer experiences.

It couldn’t be further from the truth and since I value volunteering, I probably owe it to the movement to discuss how the different roles make me feel and how I’ve benefitted. So here it goes.

Hinton United Way – I was invited to a lunch meeting in 2005 under the auspices of covering it for the paper and left as a board member. While I still wonder just exactly how that happened (I didn’t get a lunch, either!), it’s hard to argue with the experience.

Helping coordinate fundraising and marketing opportunities for a diverse group of local non-profits is pretty exciting, especially considering the vital services these groups provide to those less fortunate in our community.

It’s provided me a far better perspective on some of the unique challenges in our town and a deep appreciation for those who toil in relative anonymity to make it better. I hope I never need their services, but I feel better knowing they exist in case the unexpected should occur.

Citizens Advisory Group – This is my first experience on a town-driven committee. I spend my professional life reporting and commenting on what these committees undertake and this was my first foray into “seeing how the sausage is made” so to speak.

Honestly? It’s been a long grind and frustrating at times as 11 people with unique perspectives endeavoured to marry long-term municipal planning with public-driven objectives.

With the end near (our final draft goes to Town Council on May 3), it’s easier to reflect on what a remarkably rewarding experience it’s been. I’ll miss the debates about Hinton’s future with people I respect and learning that “making the sausage” should be somewhat hard if it’s going to be relevant.

Hinton Minor Hockey – Helping to coach atom hockey this year meant being at the rink a lot and, for me, being at the rink helping out is like a two thumbs up sundae dripping with awesome sauce.

Volunteer, I tell you, and open yourself up to the awesome.

 

Edmonton Sun – Province launches volunteer-based bursaries

By Tanara McLean,Edmonton Sun

There’s a new $1,000 incentive for post-secondary students to volunteer.

The government of Alberta, in collaboration with Volunteer Alberta, has launched the Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP), that will award $1,000 bursaries to post-secondary students who complete internships with any non-profit or volunteer organization.

“This is so much more than painting fences or cleaning up parks,” says Karen Lynch, executive director of Volunteer Alberta.

In the first year, 500 bursaries will be distributed throughout the SCiP pilot project, with up to 1,000 available by year three of the program.

Eligible students include anyone enrolled in a certificate, diploma, undergraduate, graduate or PhD program at one of Alberta’s 26 public post-secondary institutions.

The idea for the program was hatched by Timothy Jobs, chair of the Alberta Student’ Executive Council (ASEC) and his fellow council members.

“The idea came from the clear need to find innovative solutions to increase the affordability of our post secondary system,” says Jobs, adding that this project will “create a program to reward students for using their skills to benefit their communities.”

For Kirsten Poon, 20, the bursary program isn’t so much an incentive, but a bonus for her years of volunteering. The University of Alberta science student is chair of the City of Edmonton youth council and a board director for Literacy Without Borders.

“I’m excited to be exposed to these new experiences,” says Poon. “Doing a meaningful internship in the non-profit sector and learning new things. Hopefully it will inspire a lot of students.”

Lynch says although students may be driven to choose organizations based on their future careers, they aren’t limited in which non-profit they intern with to earn the bursary.

“We know that the real world doesn’t fit into faculties and descriptions of their objectives,” says Lynch.

In Alberta there are 19,000 charities and non-profit organizations that support 2.5 million volunteers. Almost 58% of Albertans volunteer, according to information gathered by Volunteer Edmonton.

The bursary funds are distributed throughout the Advanced Education and Technology ministry.

Premier Ed Stelmach says the program is an opportunity for students to “sharpen their skills” while making a bit of money. Stelmach also called the program “innovative,” saying it will “put Alberta ahead in so many jurisdictions when it comes to this sector.”

tanara.mclean@sunmedia.ca

 

Number of Canadians Concerned about Charity Fraud Up Considerably

CanadaHelps and Capital One Canada launch the second annual charity fraud awareness quiz with $20,000 grand prize

Toronto, ON (February 24, 2011) – Canadians are generous donors, but two-thirds (65%) of them are worried about fraudulent charities, which is up considerably from a survey done in November 2009 (51%). These beliefs, coupled with the difficulty in recovering their lost donation, ultimately results in more than half of Canadians (53%) stating they are less likely to give to charities because of concerns about fraud.

A large proportion, (41%) say they do not take simple steps to check if a charity is registered, ask the solicitor for ID, or visit the charity’s website before making a donation and instead rely on the reputation of the charity, and/or, past personal experience with the charity. The survey also found that just over half of Canadians (52%) say they are not confident they would know where to turn to in the event their donation did not go to a legitimate cause.

“What concerns us most is the growing number of Canadians who are worried about these crimes,” said Owen Charters, CEO of CanadaHelps. “In educating Canadians to understand the warning signs of these scams, we hope that the well-earned trust in legitimate charities will remain high and Canadians’ eagerness to donate will continue to grow.”

Today’s survey also found that up to 22% of Canadians say they prefer to donate online – an 8 point climb from a similar study conducted in November 2009. In contrast the number of Canadians who say they prefer to donate by cheque is down 7 points over the same time period (from 32% to 25%). Younger Canadians appear to be a driving force behind this change – nearly a third of Canadians aged 18-34 (31%) say online donations are their preferred method.

“With more and more Canadians preferring to donate online, it is increasingly important for credit card users to understand what to look for to ensure they are donating through a legitimate and secure website,” said Laurel Ostfield, spokesperson, Capital One Canada. “We know that awareness is key in helping Canadians protect themselves from fraud. By partnering with CanadaHelps on this campaign, we hope to educate as many Canadians as possible so they are empowered to make safe, charitable donations.”

To educate the public about charity fraud, Capital One Canada and CanadaHelps are teaming up during Fraud Prevention Month for the second annual Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz. This quiz will help participants identify the signs of charity fraud to hopefully avoid these malicious schemes.

The online Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz is designed to inform Canadians about the risk of charity fraud and how to prevent it. Accessible at www.canadahelps.org, every participant who completes the quiz will be eligible to enter into a draw to win a $20,000 grand prize donation, or one of $1,000 weekly donations from Capital One, to be made to the winner’s charity of choice. The Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz runs from March 1-31, 2011.

Capital One and CanadaHelps offer the following charity fraud prevention tips:

  • Make sure the charity is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provides you with their charitable registration number. CanadaHelps.org only lists charities registered with the CRA.
  • Ask to see a charity’s financial statements. These should be readily available to anyone who asks and give you a sense of how the charity spends their money.
  • Understand the impact the charity has and what difference they make in the community. Charities should be able to give you clear outcomes of the programs or services they provide.
  • Research the causes you want to support and how much of your budget you want to donate to charity. You will feel less pressured to give when solicited if you have already planned your giving.
  • Avoid any charity that pressures you into making a donation or isn’t open to sharing more information about their organization.

Additional Survey Results

  • 77% of Canadians made a charitable donation in the past 12 months with women being more charitable (81%) than men (72%)
  • Over one-quarter (28%) of people report they are solicited for charitable donations at least weekly, with 45% saying they get solicited more often in the event of a natural disaster
  • In the wake of a natural disaster, the majority of Canadians (61%) report an increased concern over the possibility of charity fraud
  • While only 5% of Canadians overall prefer to donate via door-to-door solicitation, a surprising 22% of Atlantic Canadians prefer this method of solicitation
  • In terms of deciding who to trust, respondents said the most important factor is a charity’s reputation (53%) followed by its media coverage/advertising (31%) and being asked to donate by a friend or colleague (30%)

About the survey

From February 2nd to 3rd, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About the Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz No purchase necessary. Each person who completes the online quiz on charity fraud at www.canadahelps.org and provides the name of their preferred charity is automatically given one entry. Organizations must be federally registered charities with the Canadian Revenue Agency. Contest begins at 9:00:00 a.m. ET on March 1, 2011 and closes at 9:00:00 p.m. ET on March 31, 2011. Full contest details atwww.canadahelps.org. Skill testing question required. Four prizes of a $1,000 donation and one grand prize of a $20,000 donation available to be won. Not open to residents of the Territories.

About Capital One Located in Toronto, Ontario, Capital One has offered Canadian consumers a range of competitive MasterCard credit cards since 1996, when the company first introduced the Platinum MasterCard in Canada. Capital One Canada is a division of Capital One Bank, a subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corporation of McLean, Virginia (NYSE: COF).

About CanadaHelps CanadaHelps is an online donations website where donors can give safely and securely to all charities in Canada that are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. The mission of CanadaHelps is to engage Canadians in the charitable sector and provide accessible and affordable online technology to both donors and charities to promote – and ultimately increase – charitable giving in Canada.

Contact: Laurel Ostfield, Capital One 416-549-2753 laurel.ostfield@capitalone.com

Owen Charters, CanadaHelps 416-628-6948 ext. 2384 owen@canadahelps.org

 

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