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We Are Listening Alberta! – Our New Website

Just before the holidays our new website went live. We are still working with our talented web developers at Adster Creative to sort out any kinks – we welcome your suggestions and we are excited to hear your first impressions on the changes!

We heard from our members that it was challenging to find specific programs, discover new initiatives, or find answers to your questions on our old website. This new website is designed with you in mind. We want you to be able to find our programs faster, uncover new programs, services, and resources, and discover information that fit your needs.

We hope that you find our website to be intuitive, inviting, and a great tool to finding out how we can help you and other Alberta nonprofits.


We Focused on You

FUNDING-HR SCiP - Colleagues Working (1)-minWe heard from our members that the top four areas you look for support are:

  1. Network Resources
  2. Human Resources
  3. Information Resources
  4. Financial Resources

We built our website around these four critical areas to easily direct you to programs, services, resources, and information that fit your needs.


Network Resources

The number one reason organizations join our membership is to be part of a provincial nonprofit network and to access knowledge exchange and meaningful connections across the province. We work to amplify the voice of Alberta’s nonprofits through a variety of influential partnerships and collaborations. Our website has been designed to help us grow and share the benefits of the network. It’s also easy for you to stay connected on nonprofit issues through our newsletters.


Human Resources

Recruiting and engaging people as staff and volunteers is one of the ongoing efforts of nonprofit organizations. We offer programs and resources to help address these challenges. Our new website offers easier access to these programs, as well as resources for managing paid employees and volunteers, as well as learning resources for those working in nonprofits at any level.


Information Resources

While we had many pieces of information and resources, they were lost in our old website. People would get confused and frustrated trying to find what they were looking for and would leave without the resources they were looking for. So, we grouped together resources and information, with quick links right on our front page. The information you need is now quick and easy to find.


Financial Resources

Often the biggest challenge as nonprofits is ensuring we have funding to do what we do. We have gathered information to get you started. We have gathered a list of places to look for funding, as well as resources to help you get funded.


Our new website design is just one of the ways we have changed to better serve Alberta communities and support the nonprofit sector. Learn more about Volunteer Alberta, our vision, and values on our brand new About Us pages, and let us know what you think about our website and how we are doing – we are listening!

2015 Federal Election – Vote with nonprofits in mind

Canada flagEarlier this year, we encouraged Albertans to go to the polls in the Provincial Election. Once again we are calling on all Albertans and Canadians to vote, and to vote with nonprofits in mind in the Canadian Federal Election on Monday, October 19.

After all, we are all impacted by the work of nonprofits. The nonprofit sector includes social services, religious institutions, university and colleges, libraries, hospitals, environmental organizations, health research, cultural associations, legal aid, theatre and the arts, recreation and sports, advocacy, professional associations, and more.

For this reason, we have put together a list of resources to help you vote, to help you mobilize others to vote, and to show why the nonprofit sector is so important this election:


Mobilize Others to Vote

#elxn42 Sharing your priorities, concerns, and voice during this election is important – Join the conversation about the upcoming election on Twitter with #elxn42.

#NPVote CCVO has created the first-ever Calgary Nonprofit Democratic Challenge. Join the challenge on Twitter by using the hashtag #NPVote and share the creative ways your organization is encouraging your staff, patrons, members and/or clients to vote. Challenge other nonprofit organizations to participate as well.

Vote Nation Voting is contagious — we know this. If you tell your friends and family you’re voting, they’re more likely to vote too. Add ‘I Will Vote October 19’ to your profile picture with this site. No matter what you are sharing on social media, your message of civic engagement will be included in every post!

Pledge to Vote Try out this CBC election engagement and interactive mapping tool to pledge to vote, share what you care about, and see why other Canadians are pledging to vote as well. Once you have pledged, share the call to action on social media.

Apathy is Boring Apathy is Boring is committed to getting young and first time voters out on Election Day. Visit their website for infographics, information, and tools to better engage these demographics – especially if you or your organization work with young people, immigrants, or marginalized groups.

Nonprofits and the Federal Election

Nonprofits Step Up! The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) and Samara Canada have created an excellent infographic outlining how nonprofits can play a crucial role in strengthening our democracy. Read more about why they are asking nonprofits to start conversations about: what role does (and should) nonprofits play in democracy? How can the nonprofit sector build a healthier democracy?

Election 2015 Hub Imagine Canada has created this hub to keep charities informed and involved this election with information and resources. Find out why and how this federal election offers an excellent opportunity for charities and nonprofits to promote civic engagement and to talk bold about issues important to Canadians and our communities!

2015 Federal Election Resources CCVO has compiled a thorough list of information, resources, and link to support nonprofits, their staff and volunteers, and their clients with their election engagement strategies. Find it on their website.

Nonprofit Advocacy during Elections Check out Charity Village’s tips for engaging in advocacy this election. As long as your organization’s advocacy efforts are issue-based and non-partisan, elections offer unique and important opportunities for your nonprofit!

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

Alberta’s Minimum Wage Increase – Why I’m Embracing It!

The following are my thoughts and reflections and may not represent the official position of Volunteer Alberta.

The Government of Alberta has pledged to increase the minimum wage to $15/hr by 2018. The plan includes an increase this fall from $10.20 to $11.20 for most workers, and from $9.20 to $10.20 for employees serving liquor (the two-tiered minimum wage will be eliminated in 2016).

Since the announcement, there have been arguments made both for and against minimum wage changes:

  • Research shows that a living wage in Edmonton is $17.36 and in Calgary is $17.29 – in 2015, not 2018. An increase to $15 may bring people closer to the basic level of income necessary to support themselves and their families.
  • Higher costs to employers may lead to layoffs, failed businesses, and, ultimately, greater unemployment – earning a lower wage is preferable to earning no wage.

While the minimum wage changes are relevant to us all as Albertans, the Calgary Herald published a piece last month that hit even closer to home: ‘Non-profits raise concerns over NDP plan to hike minimum wage.’

I value social justice and equality. I also work in the nonprofit sector. This complex issue has given me a lot to consider.photo via Hartlepool Mail

Will an increased minimum wage leave nonprofits unable to continue their valuable work in Alberta communities? Funding is already tight, and, after all, we aren’t making profit on the backs of our employees – we are making change! …Right?

Prior to the minimum wage announcement, CCVO shared the concerns and challenges for the sector with the government and on their website. Some of their recommendations, including to phase in a minimum wage increase, were reflected in the government’s announcement. Many voices from the sector have since spoken up in favor of the wage increase – read what they had to say:

I am adding my voice as well.

I landed my first paid nonprofit job in 2010 when I was in university. At $15 an hour, my wage was much higher than the $8.80 minimum wage at the time, but working 20 hours a week only brought in $1200 a month. My rent and utilities alone were $950, nowhere near the affordable housing guideline of 30% of my income. The bus ride to my job took 45 minutes, adding an hour and a half to each short shift. I was in school full-time, and I was volunteering more hours per week than I worked.

Luckily, thrift store fashion was in and I really liked frozen pierogis. Equally lucky, I didn’t have dependents like many Albertans do.

While I was earning my $15 wage and spending 80% of my income on housing, I was working in affordable housing. The irony should be obvious. Nonprofits provide these services, we should know the value of them.

photo via Active For LifeAlberta’s nonprofits exist and are funded to improve the quality of life in our communities and to create a better society. This is our shared mission. We have many ways of doing it: engaging kids in sports, sharing art and theatre, caring for our environment, supporting religious communities, teaching our future leaders, feeding the hungry, and more.

What if we strived to meet this shared mission by ensuring our staff could afford the same quality of life that our organizations attempt to create?

Nonprofit staff would have enough money to eat, live, and care for their families. They would have enough time to enjoy recreation, arts, and community. They would have enough of both to meet their true potential through support, education, volunteering, and travel. And the nonprofit sector would attract (even more) qualified people!

Alberta’s nonprofits are creative, smart, frugal, and adept at conquering challenges. We have the amazing power of volunteers on our side. The minimum wage increase sheds light on the economic complexities of our sector. I recognize that an increase in minimum wage will create real challenges for some nonprofits – but I also know that an increase in minimum wage has the potential to improve the lives of those working in the sector and in our communities. I think we should embrace it!

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

Nonprofits + Students = Great Success!

SCIP-logo-greenThe Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP) was launched by Volunteer Alberta in partnership with the Government of Alberta in 2011. The goal – connect Alberta’s post-secondary students and organizations to create great results for participants and communities.

The concept is simple:

  1. Nonprofit organizations register for the program at www.joinscip.ca, then post a meaningful, skill-based, part-time internship that would make a big difference for their organization, and offer a great learning opportunity for a student.
  2. Then students browse the internship listing and apply directly to the organization. When the internship is are all done, students get a $1000 bursary from the Government of Alberta!

Now nearing the end of its fourth year, SCiP has had its most successful year yet with 1000 internships filled – our maximum available for the year. That is $1 million in bursaries for interns making a vital difference for organizations in their communities:

“This is a tremendous program; we were able to accomplish things I could only dream about with the help of these SCiP students!”
– SCiP Organization

“If we tell our future leaders how to be good they may forget. If we teach them how to be better they may remember. But if we involve them then they will learn to be the best. That is the reward of a SCiP internship.”
– L’Association Multiculturelle Francophone de L’Alberta (AMFA)

Thank you Alberta nonprofits and students – you have been and will continue to be what makes SCiP a great success!

As SCiP has reached this year’s internship maximum, we cannot accept any next internships for the remainder of the program year. Don’t worry – the next program year begins soon: August 1st, 2015! If you think your organization has the perfect project for a SCiP intern, now is a great time to start registering and planning for August. Just visit www.joinscip.ca to get started.

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

Vitalize-ing Youth in Alberta

francisco_osorio  photo on flickrI first attended the Vitalize conference in 2012. I was 22 at the time and while I had been working and volunteering in nonprofits for a few years, Vitalize was my first opportunity to connect with a larger community of colleagues from across Alberta. I was lucky enough to participate in the conference both as an attendee, as well as a speaker on the youth engagement panel. Between sharing my experience and listening to others, it was a wonderful opportunity to exchange knowledge while learning new things.

The youth engagement panel offered many lessons about engaging youth as volunteers, but overall, we gave the following general advice:

We need to start treating youth more like any other age group, and, at the same time, we need to start treating youth differently.

Just like with everyone else, youth engagement only works well when good recruitment, retention, and recognition practices are in place. And, just like everyone else, if these processes aren’t in place (and even if they are) sometimes youth won’t show up, or won’t stay on long term. As Ralamy [Kneeshaw] reminded those at the session, you have likely had an absentee board member or a problem with high volunteer turn-over – even when it isn’t youth that you are engaging! Blaming either of these problems on age is a failed opportunity to improve your volunteer program and increase youth engagement at your organization.

At the same time though, it is important to recognize that ‘youth’ is a relevant category insofar as it tends to describe shared experiences. For example, many young people have a schedule quite different from other age groups: they have school 8:30-4:30 if they are still in grade school, or they have school all the time if they are attending post-secondary. In other words, a 15-year-old is never going to be able to attend your lunch meeting, and a university student will have a hard time committing themselves to an organization that can’t work around their exam schedule.

Youth might have a curfew or need parental permission, they might rely on public transit or rides from relatives, and many of them, students and older youth in particular, are low-income, have entry-level positions, poor job security, and are in debt or have lots of expenses like tuition. Recognizing these needs and challenges will help to inform more successful ways of recruiting, retaining, and recognizing youth volunteers.

Print​This year’s Vitalize, running June 18-20 in Edmonton, once again promises engaging sessions for participants of all ages. It will be my fourth time attending, and I’d love to see more youth in particular get involved!

Young people can attend either the main Vitalize conference or participate in the Vitalize Youth/Mentor Program for youth aged 15-22. The program offers a specific stream, and price point, to ensure youth can get involved – Vitalize registration is free* for youth participating in the program!

Through the Youth/Mentor Program, participants attend youth-focused nonprofit workshops led this year by Andrew Fung and his team from Youth Central. Participants will,

  • Connect with other engaged youth from across Alberta
  • Develop new skills that will help them make an impact
  • Learn how to build on their unique strengths and interests to make their communities better
  • Put theory into practice before the conference is over!

Encourage young people in your organization and community to consider registering for Vitalize, and tell them about the Youth/Mentor Program option. There are only 100 spots available for the program, and with Vitalize less than a month away, now is the time to register!

Find out more about Vitalize and the Youth Mentor/Program on the Alberta Culture and Tourism website.

*Youth under 18 must be accompanied by a mentor. Mentors must purchase their own registration.

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

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