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Lethbridge’s Leaders of Tomorrow Awards Impress

Last week, Rosanne (VA’s Director of Programs) and I attended Volunteer Lethbridge’s annual National Volunteer Week celebration – the Leaders of Tomorrow awards. This event recognizes the exceptional contributions made by youth aged 5-24 years old in the Lethbridge area. I was blown away by the list of hundreds of organizations that Lethbridge youth volunteer for. As the emcee read out the list of where the nominees volunteer, it seemed like the list would never end! I was particularly impressed by the 5-11 year old category – I used to consider myself almost a life-long volunteer but I certainly wasn’t doing any volunteer work at 7!

I was also struck by what one of the winners of the 18-24 categories mentioned in her brief speech. She asked the crowd to remember all these volunteer contributions made by young people the next time they hear someone say, “young people don’t care”. As a young person, I often find myself defending my generation against the apathy others perceive us to have.

Our main purpose for visiting Lethbridge was to wrap up our Intersections 2 project, which works to help nonprofit/voluntary organizations effectively engage new Canadians in their organizations. Visit our new Intersections website for resources, activities and more!

Rosanne and I were thrilled that the timing worked out to attend this amazing event and to see what exciting things are happening in Lethbridge. Laurie and her team put on a fabulous event and we always feel very welcomed when we get to visit beautiful Lethbridge! Thanks to Volunteer Lethbridge again for being great hosts during our visit.

Lisa Michetti
Member Engagement Manager

What I learnt by listening

A few months ago I sat in on a presentation of The Art of Selling the Invisible – one of Volunteer Alberta’s newest workshops, helping organizations market their volunteer opportunities to recruit new volunteers, as well as retain their current volunteers. One of my key takeaways was the need to conduct satisfaction interviews with your current volunteers – see if they’re happy in their role, happy with the way the organization works, and ask if there are any areas they’d like to expand into within the organization.

One of my volunteer activities is managing a completely volunteer-run online magazine, Sound and Noise, so I decided to apply that learning to my own organization. It had never occurred to me to actually ask our volunteers whether they were happy with their experience, which is strange because the reason I began managing the magazine was that I was dissatisfied with my own experience.

While the prospect of sitting down with our volunteers and asking for feedback on how I was doing seemed daunting, I was surprised at how easy the process ended up being. The Editor and I sat down to decide what questions we wanted to start with. I was a little wary, as the four questions we came up with seemed so basic. I wasn’t sure if we would get the feedback we wanted (or needed!) from our questions, but I decided to give it a shot.

We decided to ask:

  • General check in – what do you want to do more of? What do you want to do less of? Are there any particular skills you’d like to improve by being involved with Sound and Noise?
  • If you weren’t a writer, would you read Sound and Noise? Why or why not? What would make you a regular reader?
  • Do you find our writing workshops helpful? How do you feel about the quality of writing on the magazine?
  • How is the writing and editing process? How can we improve it?

I was blown away by the responses I got.

Once I bought our volunteers a coffee and sat down to chat with them, they completely opened up about everything that is right – and wrong – with the magazine. But more than that, they were more than willing to give me concrete suggestions for things I should keep the same and ways I could improve their experience. I went into my meetings expecting to hear general comments such as, “I like the atmosphere” or, “I want to improve my articles,” but I ended up hearing things like:

  • You should highlight the events you think we should review.
  • The workshops are great, but can we do more workshops about concept pieces?
  • I’m interested in helping out with the editorial process.

On top of all the great suggestions I got directly from the people who see “the other side” of the work I do, I got the sense that the volunteers were happy they were able to contribute in a different way to the magazine. In turn, asking for feedback makes it more likely that they’ll continue on as volunteers, and maybe take on greater roles within the magazine.

What about you? Have you ever conducted a satisfaction interview with your volunteers? What types of questions did you ask and what feedback did you get?

For more information on The Art of Selling the Invisible please contact Annand at aollivierre@volunteeralberta.ab.ca or (780) 482-3300 ext 231.

Jenna Marynowski
Marketing and Communications Manager

Interning and Learning

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

Got A Question? RCVO to the Rescue

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

SCiP’ing our way to National Volunteer Week!

National Volunteer Week is VA’s busiest week of the year; nearly all VA staff participate in the different events around the province, helping to recognize Alberta’s fantastic volunteers. Volunteer Alberta also administers Enhancement Funding, assisting communities and municipalities to celebrate local volunteers. Since NVW is the highlight of year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to involve a SCiP intern to help with getting out the Enhancement Funding.

The process of creating a job description was quite simple; over the past three National Volunteer Weeks, I’ve managed the Enhancement Funding application process so I found it quite easy to determine what our potential interns’ responsibilities would be. I wanted to make sure that we would engage her in a meaningful way and not just give her the task of compiling reports.

We had several applicants for the position, conducted interviews, and hired our intern!

On Kassie’s first day, the SCiP workbook really helped me orient her about a normal day at VA. I explained the project, detailed her roles and responsibilities, and she got right to work.

The Letter of Agreement was the only paperwork that SCiP required, but it was also a good opportunity to confirm VA’s expectations and have Kassie sign off on them, including her availability for the internship, how often we would expect her, and who to work with when she’s here.

Because National Volunteer Week is such a communications-based projects, we’ve been able to involve Kassie in our meetings with how to promote National Volunteer Week and Enhancement Funding. It’s been great to have a new perspective and enthusiasm, especially regarding a program that has been running for multiple years. The experience that she has had with school projects has been a great asset.

Having a SCiP intern work with the program team to help plan our activities for National Volunteer Week has given us a fresh perspective on one of Volunteer Alberta’s core programs. We’re continually on the lookout for other opportunities to bring interns into our programs as an essential component of our program planning.

Lisa Michetti
Member Engagement Manager

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