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SCiP Success Stories

SCiP Success Profile: L’Arche Calgary       

SCiP internships produce many success stories for both organizations and students. One such story comes from L’Arche Calgary, which created a SCiP internship posting for a communications intern. After going through the interview process, they ultimately hired Gagan, a 21 year old Marketing major at Mount Royal University completing a Bachelor of Business Administration. Gagan’s role was optimizing the use of social media for organizational communications purposes and promoting special events.

L’Arche Communications Coordinator, Vern Begg, had only positive things to say about Gagan, remarking, “her enthusiasm for the project was evident in her initial interview and remained at a high level throughout her internship.” Gagan made a valuable contribution to L’Arche Calgary, introducing new methods of communicating the organization’s mission and story to internal and external stakeholders.

L’Arche Calgary found the process of creating the intern role description, and making the hire, to be a smooth process. According to Vern, “the forms that were provided streamlined the process and allowed us to focus on finding the right candidate.” Not only were the staff at L’Arche happy with their SCiP intern experience, they have already hired another SCiP intern!

 

SCiP Success Story: Calgary tour de nuit Society         

SCiP internships produce many success stories for both organizations and students. One great story comes from Calgary tour de nuit Society (CtndS) who have two SCiP marketing interns.

CtndS promotes cycling for both transportation and recreation – their mandate is ‘more people cycling more often’.  After posting the internships, Gary Beaton, Executive Director, hired SCiP students Mahsa Dokhani and Kristina Roberts. Their primary task at the beginning of the internship was evaluating a feasibility study conducted by the City of Calgary for a public bike rental system, a project with an estimated $3 million dollar price tag. The interns made a huge impact on both the CtdnS and Calgary as a whole.

The City of Calgary’s study recommended that the bike rental project should go ahead, but Mahsa and Kristina, after many hours of research and analysis, found the city did not yet have the sufficient infrastructure for the program to be successful. Mahsa and Kristina presented their findings to the City of Calgary`s Transportation and Transit Committee.

Their presentation proved to be very influential as council decided to shelve the report for another year, after they invested further in dedicated bike lanes. The presentation, in effect, saved the taxpayers of Calgary $3,000,000! Their findings had such a large impact that they have been invited to make their presentation at the ProWalk/ProBike conference in Long Beach California in September.

Mahsa and Kristina are still in the middle of their internship and are working on a number of other projects, including fundraising and promotion of the Ride the Road tour, the year’s largest event for CtndS. Both interns are receiving extremely valuable experience and found the process of applying for SCiP internships very easy and straightforward. Gary Beaton has nothing but glowing reviews of these students and the work they are doing for the organization and their community.

 

SCiP Interns a Big Help

If you, or someone in your organization, feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, why not post a SCiP internship? A few weeks back our Marketing and Communications Manager, Jenna, did just that! Jenna spends part of her day marketing SCiP so she thought, “why not hire an intern to both experience how the program works and to help me accomplish projects that have been on the backburner?”

Both of the projects she posted internships for had been in the back of her mind for a while so writing the role description was very easy. In writing the role descriptions, she tried to use language that post-secondary students would recognize from their classes – such as SWOT and PESTLE analysis – and tried to avoid words that we use in the sector like “capacity” or “knowledge transfer”. The most surprising thing the process though was that the bulk of applications were submitted on the first day the internships were posted. Even better than that, the applications she received were from high-quality candidates. The hardest part of the process was deciding who to hire for which internship!

With success stories like these, how can your organization afford not to have a SCiP intern? For more information on SCiP internships, please visit the SCiP website or contact Ellie at emcfarlane@volunteeralberta.ab.ca or 780.482.3300 ext. 232.

 

Volunteerism: Two Birds with One Stone

Leland Bobbe/Digital Vision/Getty Images

 

A friend of mine was sharing a conversation she had with her 14 year old, they were talking about résumés, the importance of volunteering and how that can impact future jobs.  It started the wheels turning in my head… is there not enough information available to students in younger grades about volunteering?  Are we leaving it up to our school system to educate our children about volunteerism?  Are there enough resources available for parents to take the strong role of educating our younger generations on the importance of volunteering?

As a parent of an 8 year old and a 5 year old, I am also struggling with instilling strong values around volunteering.  Here are some tips that I thought I would share:

1.    Talk to your child about their strengths and interests. Not every volunteer opportunity fits every teenager. Before searching for organizations that use volunteers, talk to your child about what they would like to do and make a list of possible volunteer activities. Do they like animals? Perhaps the local shelter would be a good start. Does he/she enjoy talking to people? Consider a nearby hospital or retirement home. Try to find volunteer opportunities where your child will thrive. But, don’t be afraid to support your child in trying something new. Sometimes taking a risk can help your child develop entirely new interests and skills. Many times with younger children a parent needs to be there to help.  I can’t think of a better way to bond as a family.

2.    Search for local opportunities. Once you’ve made a list of your child’s strengths and interests, search for opportunities that fit the list. Many communities have structured volunteer programs for adolescents. You can find branches of major nonprofit organizations, such as the Red Cross, on the internet.  Also in Southern Alberta you can check out these Volunteer Centre websites!

•      Volunteer Lethbridge

•      Volunteer Resource Centre – Brooks

•      Volunteer Hanna

3.    Encourage your child to do a “trial run.” Help your child make arrangements for completing a short volunteer trial run before committing to any specific opportunity. The trial period can be anywhere from an afternoon to a week. If at the end of the trial run your child would prefer to choose another volunteer opportunity, help him/her find something that is a better fit.

4.    Help your child stay committed. Once your child commits to a volunteer project, encourage them to stay the course. There are almost always challenges, personality clashes, unexpected needs and alternative activities that look more fun. But, remind your child that they have a responsibility to stick with his/her commitment. Don’t force your child to continue with any program, but make sure you emphasize the importance of meeting obligations.

5.    Talk to your child about their volunteer experiences. Once your child completes his/her volunteer project, talk to them about their experiences and really listen. Discuss their triumphs and their struggles. Then, ask your teen where he/she wants to volunteer next.

With school obligations and multimedia distractions, it isn’t always easy for children to volunteer their time. But, with a little guidance, helping others can have tremendous rewards. It can also be a lot of fun.

A special thanks to about.com for their articles and, of course, Sharon for sharing her parenting experiences!

Until next time,

Amanda Leipert

Knowledge Exchange Coordinator (South Region)

KnowledgeConnector Improves Your Access to Learning

In an increasingly complex world, organizations are established to develop and meet the needs of our communities. We are fortunate in Alberta, as there are over 19,000 nonprofit/voluntary organizations working to make Alberta a better place to live and work. These organizations have needs and need to develop as well. Like anyone else, the leaders and managers in those organizations are happy to receive support and guidance. ­­

You may already be aware of many of the capacity-building organizations in Alberta, such as Volunteer Alberta, Volunteer Centres, Community Learning Councils, colleges, and many others. In my experience, however, most organizations, especially those who do not have paid staff, are unaware of all of the learning opportunities, and resources available in their own communities or throughout Alberta. They may also find the learning opportunities and resources more difficult to access, or believe they are not able to access them, due to limited financial resources and time.

KnowledgeConnector, managed by Volunteer Alberta, helps connect leaders and managers – both volunteer and paid – in the nonprofit/voluntary sector with learning opportunities. This is exciting! With time at a premium, a “one-stop shop” to find the right learning opportunities at the right time is key – KnowledgeConnector is the answer.

So, how do you know which learning opportunities suit you at this point in time? The answer is a key feature of the KnowledgeConnector website – the A.S.K. Leadership Assessment tool. You can complete the assessment online to gain a better understanding of your growth areas, and then be matched with learning opportunities in your area to fill your learning gaps!

Another great opportunity is for an organization’s board (or an advisory committee) to schedule an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment workshop from Volunteer Alberta! The benefits include identifying common areas for development for learning together, identifying gaps for recruiting purposes, building teamwork, and discovering untapped knowledge and skills!

Contact me to schedule an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment Workshop, or discuss the many other opportunities provided by Volunteer Alberta!

Cheers,

Diana Bacon

Knowledge Exchange Coordinator (North Region)

 

P.S. – Until August 31st, it is free to register as a Learning Provider on KnowledgeConnector.ca, and you may post an unlimited number of learning opportunities – no matter what time of the year the opportunities take place!

Term Limits: A Positive or Negative?

Term limits for board directors, or a lack thereof, is one of the most controversial topics of conversation in the nonprofit/voluntary sector. Each new organization must decide at the outset, when writing their bylaws, whether or not to include a cap on the number of consecutive terms a board director can serve. In an effort to learn more about the perceived pros and cons of term limits, I searched out books, articles and other resources on the subject in the Volunteer Alberta Resource Centre. Right away I found an article entitled “Term Limits: Pro or Con” in the May 2012 edition of The Journal of the Institute of Corporate Directors. In the article, Deepak Shukla, Corporate Director and Board Trustee with Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, makes the case for term limits; and David Dominy, Chairman of 3D Capital Inc., makes the case against having term limits. Both made great points in support of their arguments.

One of Shukla’s primary arguments in favour of term limits for boards is that it ensures there is a continuous supply of fresh blood. This school of thought suggests organizations are best served by having a constantly evolving board of directors, with staggered terms to ensure that there is a healthy balance of fresh perspective and experience. Dominy, on the other hand, insists that organizations should focus on recruiting, and retaining, the best and the brightest, rather than forcing perfectly capable board members to step down. The key question to consider is, “which approach is best for my organization?”

According to Shukla, having unlimited consecutive terms can often result in ‘group think’ – a situation where a board ceases being a true democracy. Both sides of the issue provided examples of boards that do not have term limits for their board directors; Shukla cited Research In Motion (RIM) as an organization with a board that has no term limits and has seen a negative impact as a result. Yet, Dominy is quick to point out that some of the most successful corporations in Canada, such as BMO, RBC, BCE and Shaw, have no board term limits. While these examples are for-profit enterprises, instead of nonprofit/voluntary organizations, it demonstrates that each organization has its own needs and that there is no one size fits all approach.

Having term limits in place can work as a safeguard to prevent board members from steering the organization down the wrong path, and, according to Shukla, there is no effective evaluation process for boards, as the most common form is a self-evaluation. However, Dominy suggests that term limits can put an organization in the undesirable position of having to replace a strong board member with a candidate from a less desirable talent pool.

Shukla and Dominy both want what is best for their respective organizations and, in the nonprofit/voluntary sector, the board must consider the organization and the stakeholders with every decision. The foundation of any nonprofit/voluntary organization are its bylaws, and whether or not to have term limits is one of the most important decisions founders must make for the future of their organization.

Now, my question to readers: what is most important to your organization: a fresh supply of independent thinkers or experienced board directors?

Tim Henderson

Office and Communications Coordinator

The Super Volunteer in Rural Alberta

A few weeks ago, I attended an interagency meeting where the term “STP” was used in reference to volunteering. I had not heard this term used before, so I was relieved when someone else asked if the acronym could be explained. As it turns out, STP refers to the “Same Ten People” who always volunteer their time and energy on different projects and events. Now you might be chuckling to yourself, as you probably know that handful of people, and chances are you might even be one of them. In our community, I immediately thought of a young couple who both work full time and volunteer tirelessly for their children’s sporting teams. This past winter, they coached and managed their son’s hockey team and then, in the spring, they stepped forward and did the same for lacrosse. They do not have more time than the rest of us, nor did they magically acquire the skills to coach and manage a team. So why do they do it?

There are many reasons why people volunteer: recognition and feedback, personal growth, giving something back, bringing about change, friendship, bonding and/or a feeling of belonging. When managing volunteers, we need to know which of these incentives will motivate our volunteers, either to recruit them to our organization, or to keep them coming back. While speaking at the Didsbury Museum, I was engaging the group on this very subject, and one of the participants explained to the group how once a month they recruit volunteers to DUST (yes dust!) the museum. She explained that they started at a convenient time and they provided pizza for everyone at the lunch break, but she said the biggest reason they had people coming back was that they made it fun! The same goes for the couple who volunteers with their son’s hockey team – I am sure it is not fun getting up at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning to freeze in a cold arena (come on, we live in Canada, we’re meant to be tough). However, it is fun to give back to your community and watch the kids as they develop new skills and grow individually and as a team. It is fun being a part of the bigger picture and belonging to a group, a society or a team.

So next time you hear the term “STP”, whether it be same two people, or same ten people, count yourself in as one of those extraordinary people who volunteers their time, for whatever fun reason is close to your heart!

Wondering what it is that motivates STPs? Book a session to break down the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering, and Participating statistics into information you can use to recruit volunteers!

Diane Huston

Knowledge Exchange Coordinator (Central Region)

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