Being (what I term) a serial volunteer, as well as working in the nonprofit/voluntary sector, has given me some special insight into how to go about managing volunteers. I’m always happy every time a volunteer manager (either by title or by their role within the organization) makes sure that I, as a volunteer, am satisfied with my experience, and know that I am appreciated. One of the reasons I started working at Volunteer Alberta was because I was interested in ensuring every volunteer has a good experience, and wants to become even more involved in their community.
However, I’m sure we’ve all had experiences where we – as volunteers – were managed poorly. I had one such experience recently while attending a meeting of an organization that is just in the early stages of incorporating as a nonprofit. So, what did I, as a manager of volunteers at another organization, learn about volunteer recruitment and management from this experience? Here are just three things, but I’m sure there’s many more:
- Ask your volunteers what they want from you. What are they looking to get out of their experience? Why are they giving their time? By asking these two simple questions, you can create a role that’s suited to the volunteer – not ask them to take on a role that they are either unsuited for, or that doesn’t interest them.
- Always let your volunteers know what to expect from a meeting. If volunteers know what to expect from a meeting, they can come prepared to contribute in a meaningful way. If they know what to expect, they will also leave the meeting knowing how their input contributed to the organization or the project, and will be more satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. Personally, if I had known what to expect from the meeting I recently attended, I would have left the meeting much more satisfied with the outcome, and would be much more likely to come back and volunteer my skills to them again.
- Show your volunteers that you value their time. Whether you send out an agenda (which is something I frequently do for the volunteers I manage), or just manage the meeting in an efficient way (including being there when the volunteers arrive), volunteers are giving their time (personally, one of my most valuable resources), and we should be appreciative of that.
Volunteer Alberta has some great resources on management of volunteers, including resources about:
Your turn! What lessons have you learnt about volunteer management – either through the way you, as a volunteer, were managed, or in your role of managing volunteers in your organization?
– Jenna Marynowski
Communications and Marketing Manager
University and college students spend so much time listening to professor’s lecture about what kind of skills they need to attain a successful career. I was tired of listening and was ready to just “do.” In other words, I thought it was about time to put my academic training into action. Gaining valuable work experience while being a student can be difficult; having the SCiP program available to students is an invaluable, flexible resource.
Signing up for SCiP was easy; I received my user name and password in a few days and was able to browse open positions right away. There were lots of internships available, I looked for one that fit my interests and complemented my degree. After formally applying and going through the interview process, I was notified I was the successful candidate for the position of National Volunteer Week Coordinator at Volunteer Alberta. Having the opportunity to be a SCiP intern with Volunteer Alberta has been a great experience.
As the National Volunteer Week Coordinator, I am responsible for handling all incoming applications and processing them. I’m fortunate to be working on a project that recognizes hard working volunteers across the province of Alberta; I am able to make a difference for volunteers and their communities. My position at Volunteer Alberta has provided me with unique learning opportunities that I would have not experienced elsewhere. Working as a team and independently, meeting deadlines, and learning new skills, are just a few of my highlighted gains from this internship. One of the best parts about my internship was the “hands on” experience. I was able to work with different people, working in different areas at Volunteer Alberta. I was able to develop my strengths and tackle my weaknesses while helping me discover where my true passion lies in the career world.
I hope other students and organizations have the opportunity to get involved with SCiP.
– Kassie Russell
National Volunteer Week Coordinator
Very interesting report on the nonprofit sector in Ontario:
Contributions of the NonProfit Sector
The nonprofit sector is an often-overlooked contributor to the Canadian economy. In 2007, the value-added or gross domestic product (GDP) of the nonprofit sector was $35.6 billion, accounting for 2.5 per cent of the total Canadian economy. This share increases to 7.0 per cent when hospitals, universities and colleges are included, reaching $100.7 billion in 2007.14 Excluding hospitals, colleges and universities, the nonprofit sector employs 600,000 people and has over five million volunteers, supporting a wide variety of sectors including health, education, environment and social services in Ontario. These same nonprofit organizations in the province have annual revenues of $29 billion, 45 per cent coming from earned income, 29 per cent from federal and provincial government grants and service contracts, and 26 per cent from gifts, donations and other sources.15
Most nonprofit organizations (53 per cent) in Ontario are completely volunteer-run, having no paid staff.16 We must not underestimate the contributions of volunteers to care for our elderly, retrain the unemployed, educate our children and care for our environment. Steps should be taken to ensure that these organizations continue to get funding. However, there is room for improvement in terms of streamlining administration and ensuring that accountability frameworks focus on outcome metrics. In addition, multi-year agreements can help create predictable budget cycles for nonprofit organizations.
Recommendation 8-17: Reform funding practices in the nonprofit sector to increase flexibility and reduce administrative costs by focusing on measuring outcomes rather than inputs.
There is also room for improving the responsiveness of the government to the nonprofit sector. The Commission notes the precedent set by the Open for Business initiative that creates a single window through which business can engage all government ministries. We believe a similar model would be helpful to the nonprofit sector, which is just as varied and diverse as the private sector.
Recommendation 8-18: Provide a single point of access within government for the nonprofit sector to improve and broaden relationships across ministries that enter into contracts with the nonprofit sector, using a model such as the Open for Business initiative.
Read the full report here: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/reformcommission/index.html
A social policy framework for Alberta will be comprehensive in nature, reflect our shared values as Albertans, and guide collective efforts to support all Albertans to attain a high quality of life – where all Albertans have access to the programs and services they need, when they need them. All Albertans share the benefits when people can participate as full members of our society.
The framework will focus on the social system that serves disadvantaged Albertans while considering how the whole system works to serve its citizens. The framework will provide a foundation for governments, communities, nonprofit organizations, and individuals to make decisions about the relevance and effectiveness of social policies and programs for Albertans. It will lay the foundation for an accessible system that produces results – both for the Albertans who use it and for those who share in the benefits of a stronger society.
The framework will be fully realized by fall and be developed in an inclusive way and will articulate the roles that government, communities, nonprofit organizations, and individuals play in the system that serves Albertans. It will communicate Alberta’s social policy direction to the public, both within and beyond our borders.
Some of the key questions that we, as a sector, need to provide strong, collaborate answers to:
- What do you see as the purpose of a social policy framework for Alberta?
- What are the respective roles of government(s), communities, individuals, and business in achieving a quality of life to which Albertans aspire?
- What kind of society do you want for yourself, your family and community?
- What social and economic issues should be included in the framework?
- Social programs are delivered by government, communities, and nonprofit organizations across the province. How would you like to be engaged during this process?
- How would you define success?
- How should we measure success?
Become a part of the conversation and send your answers and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the draft discussion guide: Social Policy Framework Discussion Guide
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