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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

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

 

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