What is a ‘volunteer centre’? A personal and short story
At Volunteer Alberta, we connect Volunteer Centres with each other and with any resources they need to help make an impact in their communities. What is a volunteer centre you ask? Let me tell you!
In high school, we were required to complete 120 volunteer hours as part of our community service learning. At 15, I wasn’t really sure where to look for opportunities or what opportunities were geared toward youth in my community.
Thankfully, I had the expertise of a local volunteer centre. They helped me find a volunteer position that I was passionate about, connected me with local volunteer managers, and found a position that worked with my school and extracurricular schedule.
Here are four reasons why volunteer centres should be included in and why they are integral to Alberta’s economic recovery:
Nonprofits, community organizations and volunteers are important players in a thriving community fabric
Volunteers are the heart of our community. Whether formal or informal, they share their time and passion to build a better world. For the spirit of volunteerism to thrive, we need organizations working to:
- Promote, facilitate, celebrate and support volunteerism and civic engagement as a key component of a civil society.
- Build nonprofit capacity to effectively recruit, train, and manage volunteers.
- Facilitate links between nonprofit, private and government sectors to jointly address critical social, economic and environmental issues.
“(Being) Canadian is like being part of a big family. By having an enormous volunteer culture, we are bettering Canada one step at a time and making it one of the best places to call home!” – Harry, Volunteer stories for a Canada 150 profile
Volunteer centres are essential community hubs
Volunteer centres and Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) in communities across Alberta play an essential role in building nonprofit sector capacity by facilitating the exchange of skills, opportunities and knowledge between volunteer-seekers and nonprofit organizations.
We support effective volunteer engagement and build nonprofit sector capacity for volunteer managers, board, paid staff and volunteers through programs like:
- Support, consultation and training related to volunteer screening, recruitment and engagement.
- Volunteer managers meetings that bring together volunteer managers to connect, collaborate and learn from one another.
- Board leadership and support, consultation and training for strategic planning, revenue diversification, change management and more.
- Community-wide celebrations supporting, applauding and thanking community volunteers for their contributions to civil society in April each year.
Less supports for Alberta nonprofits to onboard volunteers means less human resources to achieve their missions
Since the pandemic, the nonprofit voluntary sector has had to adapt volunteer positions, shift to virtual programming, find new ways to continue engaging volunteers, and adapt the way we screen and onboard volunteers with reduced funds and staffing.
Without essential programs and frontline or emergency response services lead by volunteer centres and FCSS, 65% of Alberta’s nonprofits would lose critical supports to recruit, engage, and screen volunteers. And if Alberta’s nonprofits lose the ability to onboard volunteers, many will lose valuable human resources that help them to achieve their missions.
If volunteer centres lose support, there’d be unintended consequences for Albertans
In other words, Albertans would be deprived of vital services they depend on and need like mental health supports, family and domestic violence resources and supports, housing supports, supports for seniors, youth engagement and recreation just to name a few. And, the need for these types of services will not be slowing down any time soon as we all navigate the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 health crisis.
By championing and supporting the work of volunteer centres and FCSS, you are supporting an effective and efficient model for delivering essential services and programs to nonprofits in our communities, volunteers and Albertans.
How you can help
Add your name to Volunteer Alberta’s open letter to the Government of Alberta
Donate to Volunteer Alberta to support our work with volunteer centres
Think the work we do is important? Consider donating to Volunteer Alberta and supporting the work of the provincial volunteer centre network, our programs and services.