As a newbie here at Volunteer Alberta, my experiences with the nonprofit sector have primarily been as frontline staff, working directly with the organization’s clientele or volunteers. Through this lens, it’s easier to see the immediate impact of your work. You can see it through assisting a child in an ABC Head Start classroom, prepping and serving meals, caring for at-risk youth in a group home, or helping to put the finishing touches on a Habitat for Humanity home. The immediacy of that impact is what can keep people coming back to volunteer or to work in the sector.
It has been an exciting transition into the world of capacity building in the nonprofit sector. Capacity building, it can be hard to see some of the impact of the work we are doing. We empower organizations to see and understand the gaps and obstacles hindering their long term development. VA provides support, resources, and connections to help organizations achieve their goals in order to better serve their communities.
Seeing the impact requires you to look through a different lens. We may help an organization see that they do not have the proper risk management practices in place and provide the organization with the proper knowledge and training to keep them safe for the future. However, we don’t often get a chance to see how this knowledge is put into place. In some cases, our impact may only be measured through performance evaluations, where we see that we’ve provided a valuable service to the organization, but it can be fulfilling knowing we’ve put the pieces in place to increase the organization’s capacity to serve their community and volunteers.
I feel fortunate to be part of an organization helping to strengthen the nonprofit sector. I will have to change my lens in the future. The next time I drive by a Habitat for Humanity house that I volunteered for, instead of thinking of the sweet floors I put together with my own hands, I can think of how they are increasing their organizational capacity with their risk management policies. This allows for increased staff/volunteer safety, thereby increasing their volunteer participation, build rate, and their impact to the community. Though I will still think about those sweet floors and windows I installed!
Simon Yu, Program Technology Coordinator