Everything Social

Volunteer Victoria was delighted and grateful to be chosen as the Charity of Choice at Social Media Camp last week. (Thanks Social Media Camp!) If you have never heard of this annual gathering, it is an amazing opportunity to learn about the latest trends and tools to manage and use social media – and to meet 500+ representatives from all types and sizes of organizations across western Canada and beyond.

Social Media Camp may not seem like an intuitive go-to destination for anyone who still uses a flip phone or gets messages from Twitter asking,”Are you still out there?” because you have used your account so infrequently. It may even be intimidating to think about spending days with people – never mind 500+ people- who talk, live, and breath everything social media. And, it is difficult to accept that in the fast moving evolution of social media, some of the systems and tools we have only just come to use and love may already be considered dinosaurs.

All this being said, let’s not focus on why we may be afraid to live in a social media world, and let’s review why a little vacation to a social media destination can be so invigorating. This are just a few of the things we learned at #SMC2015:

– Content remains king. Before you get bogged down on which version of what tool you need to start or build your social media following, focus on building rich and relevant content on a regular basis and offer it freely to others to use and distribute
– No one shares boring messages even if they are only 140 character long
– Humanize the content. If you can make it fun and egaging
– People connect to information through social media – brand loyalty is still built through quality interactions and trust is only earned and kept when we deliver on our promises
– The majority of people today learn about and make value decisions about an organization/product online – long before they ever meet face to face or send an e-mail
– There are a small number of people who need to know exactly how the technology works – don’t let a lack of understanding of new social media tools be the barrier to offering a great online experience

While media plays an essential role in how all organizations attract and inform our clients, donors, volunteers and champions, we cannot forget that most of the work is still social – without meaningful relationship nothing builds and lasts.

And, one last thing, Agenda Office furnishings made Volunteer Victoria the coolest booth at Social Media Camp this year! Thanks to the loan of an amazing height adjustable desk we were able to wow people with our message and our technology.

 


Youth Legacy Report

Volunteer Victoria is pleased to launch a new report on youth volunteerism in Victoria. 624 local youth between the ages of 15 and 25 responded to a survey between April 2014 and February 2015.

Funded by the United Way of Greater Victoria, the Youth Legacy Report 2015 explored motivations and barriers to volunteerism, and the ways that local youth connect with volunteer opportunities. The survey also identified local volunteering trends. Youth indicated that they:

  •  volunteer between 10 and 13 hours per month. Volunteers who  heard of Volunteer Victoria give on average 10% more time than those who have not
  • are motivated to give back to community, to develop skills, for personal satisfactions, to enhance resume, and to meet program requirements
  • are most interested in volunteering with youth/children, in health and wellness, with animals, arts and music, environment, and with people on a mental health or substance use journey. Youth were less interested in volunteering opportunity focused on social media and events
  • 44% of youth found out about events through media other than media – community notice boards, and school ranked highly

For more information in youth volunteerism contact Arianna Klus in the Volunteer Victoria YouthVolunteer Connections Program.


Turning Pie into Pi

You might occasionally note a Friday the 13th or remember March 15th (“Beware the Ides of March” the notorious date of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and the turning point in Roman history.) But, sandwiched between the two last week was International Pi Day. You know Pi, 3.141592653 … a numerical dream date.

In 1706, William Jones (a Welsh mathematician) realized that, “The exact proportion between the diameter and the circumference [of a circle] can never be expressed in numbers.”

Now what exactly does Pi have to do with anyone who works or volunteers in a non profit in BC in 2015?

Well, funders recently reminded non profits of their need to divide their financial Pies using very precise terms. In the case of Volunteer Centres across BC, provincial and municipal governments reminded us that they only fund programs and services that have a direct benefit to the public. They need to ensure that one organization is not giving benefit from public funds to another organization. In legislation, accountability, and in Pie theories it makes complete sense.

But, let’s compare the math according to three theories in play and let’s use Volunteer Victoria’s E-Newsletter as our demonstration product.

Approximately 1,800 people receive the E-Link newsletter every other week. It costs $350 to produce in sunk costs per issue.

If Volunteer Victoria was ‘more business like’ we would simply calculate and share the cost. You, as a subscriber would each pay $4.66 a year. As you do not all read all the issues we may need to implement a user-fee model so you will have to pay $18.66 for each issue you read. (Plus shipping and handling costs, and GST) We won’t have the resources to track the outcomes when you learn about jobs, changes in legislation, or participate in non profit specific events or learning, but no big deal. It’s just business. Where would you like us to send your invoice?

In the funder Pie model, it gets more complicated and the model changes every fiscal year depending on the funders and how much Volunteer Victoria receives in grants. The production costs are the same, but the administration to manage the E-newsletter is significantly higher and we need much more information from you all to track who pays which portion of the cost on a monthly basis. It is not an exact science but basically:

– If you currently volunteer with a non profit – then the organization you volunteer with benefits from your learning, so we will have to mail them an invoice and ask them to pay the cost. If you volunteer at more than one organization, please let us know. We need to split the invoice.
– If you are a high risk individual, unemployed, or in a life transition the United Way or Island Health might cover a portion of the cost on a sliding scale from 10 to 100% of the cost. Where shall we send the balance of your invoice?
– If you are a youth under the age of 25, Coast Capital Savings and the Victoria Foundation will pay for the cost of your learning. You will not receive an invoice. Please remember to thank them!
– If you are not currently volunteering, not working in the sector, and have no affiliation with any non profit organization then you need to thank the Provincial and/or municipal governments for picking up your share of the cost of the E-newsletter. You will need to tell us which municipality you live in though, because not all 13 local governments fund us. Please do not forget to send us a change of address card if you move.

Now there is the reality of Pi.

Millions of mathematicians cannot divide circles into whole and precise numbers.  And surely the goal of the non profit sector is not to produce more brilliant mathematicians or accountants.

There will always be individual, volunteer, and organizational overlap – especially since the demand for services has grown, conditions are more complex, and we all need to attract more volunteers, more ideas, and more engagement from the whole community to address community-based challenges.

The non profit sector can and does track costs and we are accountable. But our primary purpose is not to divide Pi, but to increase the impact of the circle. In the non profit sector the sum of the whole is far greater then the sum of the individual parts.

And, if any one is wondering, the entire cost of E-Link next fiscal year and the entire benefit of your learning is courtesy of the Victoria Foundation.

This article is written by Lisa Mort-Putland, Executive Director, Volunteer Victoria.


Social Media Camp

Social Media Camp is Canada’s largest social media conference, offering three days of world class education, networking and idea sharing in a fun environment.

People converge on Victoria for this annual event from across North America. Similar events happen in San Diego and New York, but cost well over $1000 to attend, not including travel. The local team at Social Media Camp has been committed to Victoria’s non-profit sector by providing the best discount available anywhere to employees and directors attending on behalf of their local non-profits. This year, if you sign up before April 1st, you can take part in this world class event for only $249 ($150 off the ticket price).

If somebody from your organization wants to take advantage of this opportunity, contact Lisa@volunteervictoria.bc.ca.


Farewell Friend

As someone pointed out yesterday, 2015 started with a bang! After nearly a decade of stable service, the “much loved” and much used database VolWeb suffered a major technical breakdown.

We knew more than a year ago that VolWeb was facing increasing risks and health problems.  And we all knew the day would come when VolWeb would do more than just show its age – it would face an age-related malfunction that would require critical and intensive care. And more than just a light sniffle, this breakdown has rendered the system completely inaccessible and it will take more than a day or two of rest to bring it back to full strength.

“Much loved” is an exaggeration. A big one! Like all tools and systems we usually only love databases when they work exactly the way we want them to. VolWeb didn’t have lots of bells or whistles, menu bars, or fancy videos. It was not shiny and new, and it did not do every thing we wanted. We never yelled “We love VolWeb” across the office. But, now that VolWeb is gone, we realize just how much we used it, needed it, and how much we will miss it.

Volweb was a workhorse, a constant companion, and a useful tool for thousands of volunteers and volunteer managers. It was developed a decade ago to support volunteer recruitment efforts for the 2010 Olympic Games and was later adapted for use by volunteer centres across the province. Since 2010 it has been lovingly cared for by the staff at the BC Games Society – who deserve massive thanks and admiration for their tremendous service and ability to keep VolWeb functioning with the smallest of budgets and tightest of timelines.

Volunteer Victoria has been working on a new database system called Volunteer Impact for more than 6 months. We had planned to launch the new system in February once all the technical issues have been solved, the data is clean, and everything functions as it should. But with the demise of VolWeb our ‘perfect launch plan’ has been shelved.

Yesterday we brought Volunteer Impact online so that we can provide continuous service to our member agencies and to the public. The new system is not perfect – but it has lots of new functions and features, and things to enjoy. And we hope in the not too distant future, we will hear member agencies and volunteers claiming to “love that new system.”


You Made A Difference – Thank You!

Volunteer Victoria turned 40 this week. Today we are officially 14,602 days old!

Relative to agencies like the Cridge Centre – Western Canada’s oldest non profit which formed in 1876 – we are still a baby. Still, 40 years of business is a big milestone and we are so grateful to all our former and current agency and individual members, board members, and staff and volunteers who have made and continue to make Volunteer Victoria vibrant and relevant.

We are blessed to have team members (paid and volunteer) whose faces still light up every time they help a potential volunteer connect and commit to a volunteer opportunity, and who delight in creating and sharing knowledge, and strengthening the non profit community. One of the many  joys of working with volunteers and the agencies who recruit and manage volunteers is the endless amount of potential that is harnessed on a daily basis and grows with every act of volunteerism. Regardless of age or stage of life, volunteers make a difference.

We also want to acknowledge and thank the many organizations, foundations, and individuals who have invested in Volunteer Victoria over the last 40 years – Victoria Foundation, United Way of Greater Victoria, Coast Capital Savings, Thrifty Foods, and the provincial and municipal governments – to name a few. An investment in volunteerism is more than just a good use of resources – it builds connections, increases health and wellness, and extends the bounds of possibility – for individuals and for communities.  By helping Volunteer Victoria, you have helped many.

So thank you for supporting Volunteer Victoria and for choosing us to be your partner in all things volunteer  and non profit related.  The first 40 years were fabulous and we can’t wait for the next stage of our journey.

Volunteers live long and prosper!

 


Volunteers: Aging in Place

Did you know that James Bay is home to the largest concentration of seniors in the country?18.4% of the population in Victoria is a senior, meaning that not only does our community have a higher than average number of seniors, we also have a higher than average number of senior volunteers. And, as the large baby boom generation born between 1946 and 1965 reaches 65 years old we will have even more seniors volunteering.

For many years, the number of new seniors entering their retirement years and volunteering seemed to keep pace with the number of senior volunteers ‘downsizing’ their volunteer commitments. But, times have changed and seniors are healthier than ever before, living longer, and staying engaged in their communities and in their volunteer work. For the first time, we have an increasingly large number of volunteers aging in place and community agencies are now working with up to 4 generations of senior volunteers.

Organizations and volunteer managers recognize that while we often use the same term for people between the age of 65 and 105, individual senior volunteers have very different needs and very different reasons for volunteering and we cannot use the same management principles and set of expectations for every demographic group. Best practice says we have to anticipate the needs of our volunteers and our volunteer programs and adjust our practices to serve both.

After volunteering for 1, 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years, senior volunteers experience a wide range of feelings and choices regarding their volunteer work. Most seniors continue to volunteer because they know they contribute in meaningful ways and volunteering adds value to the community and their lives. When asked, senior volunteers also share their fears about aging in place – some have concerns that if they leave they can not be replaced and they worry about the consequences to the organization, others are concerned that volunteering adds stress and impacts their health, or organizational needs change and they no longer feel like they can keep up. Organizations also struggle to evolve volunteer positions filled by senior volunteers – often because they are afraid of the impact on volunteers who do not easily embrace change.

In the best cases, organizations have embraced the opportunity to ask senior volunteers what they want and need, what they need to learn, and how they will evolve their roles to meet their own emerging needs  and the needs of the organization. The most successful senior volunteer stories include elements of respect, good communication, a shared vision, and a plan for when and how change will happen.


Our United Way

We may occasionally toy with the idea of what to do with millions if we win a lottery  but I think this may be the extent of most people’s philanthropic dreams. (After a long and happy marriage my spouse and I have agreed to split the funds 50/50 and never to talk to each other about what we each did with our half.)

Besides, how much wealth does the average person really need to accumulate before they can make a difference for the things they care about in the community? If you are thinking millions or hundreds of thousands, think again. According to the book, “Excellence in Fundraising in Canada” the average gift in a will in Canada is $25,000 and the average monthly gift is in the $25 range.

$25,000 seems do-able and very meaningful. There is just one problem. We have to die to make the gift, so giving $25 a month seems far more reasonable. But, our wallets are usually filled with loonies, toonies, an old button from a shirt, 1o+ receipts, loyalty cards, an appointment card for a haircut etc. etc. etc. Finding the cash is the first problem and then there is the question of who do I give it to?

Do you remember the book, “The Wealthy Barber?” I have lived my entire working life by the Wealthy Barber principle of ‘saving first’ and it has provided me a guilt free life when it comes to spending. So I wondered, how many of us apply a similar principle to ‘giving first’ knowing that our monthly donations are whisked away at source through pay roll deductions, and our gifts add up over our lifetime? Without having millions to give, even the average joe has the opportunity to make it to the top of the philanthropy charts.

I suspect my thoughts have been driven by the United Way launch next week (September 17th at Spirit Square, City Hall. Bring a lunch, your family, and your friends!) The event nearly always feels a bit like New year’s Eve for me – a celebration that brings people together to look forward to a new year – and with the added benefit of not needing to stay up past midnight.

But more than just a one-time event,  the United Way Campaign is our community’s largest collective impact project – the bringing together of thousands of individuals who make the possible probable because they work together in a united way.

Most Canadians say that when it comes to what really matters, they want to know that they make a difference. I suppose our challenge is to think differently – instead of planning on building or winning enough in hopes of making a large legacy gift at some time in the future, why would’t we give what we can now so we get to witness the large difference we make in our community during our lifetime.

To learn more about the United Way visit http://www.uwgv.ca


We Blame it on the Sunshine

The team at Volunteer Victoria has been musing on an idea for a couple of days now. After stumbling across a Fantasy Football League, we asked ourselves what would a Fantasy Non-Profit League in Victoria look like?

Of course, our Fantasy League might not  be called a ‘Non-Profit League” at all. There are many who advocate for a new name for our sector – a name that represents the quality of our outcomes and not the type of funding structure we work in. We think it might be fun to be called the “Fantasy Social Good League”, or the “Fantasy Making a Difference League”. If we are going to dream big we might even call ourselves the “Fantasy, We Always have the Resources we Need to Get the Job Done League,” but perhaps this is dreaming too big.

With 947 registered charities and several hundred more non-profits in Greater Victoria, the pool of potential Fantasy team members in the community is very large and very exciting. In a few short minutes we made a fantasy list of emerging and current managers and leaders who we think inspire our community to action and make real and sustained differences. There is no shortage of people or potential.

The pool includes current and recently retired Executive Directors, seasoned volunteer and program managers, financial management specialists, fundraisers, program and front line staff, and of course the central figures in all our organizations – our administrative colleagues. We also thought about our fantasy board members and volunteers – and the types of individuals we need to create a space and organizational culture where anything is possible and everything that needs to get done is achievable and manageable. In our Fantasy League we built a team who can create and sustain the conditions we need for individual, organizational, and community resiliency and good health- it was a blissful exercise.

Then we remembered the rules of the game – even though we may be able to create a Fantasy Team we cannot change the current and real-life conditions in which individuals and organizations work. Or can we? What can we do to reduce the risks in our environment and increase our successes and how can we commit to making the shifts that make a difference?

We probably won’t have much time in the fall to think about our Fantasy League, but we will be thinking about our reality league. While it is not all sunny days ahead, we think it remains the best league to play in.

 

 


Just Saying!

It’s August – if you have been paying even the slightest attention to the calendar, the weather, or your vacation schedule, or if you are more than 4 years old, then you already know this. BC teachers are still on strike. You probably know this too.

Here are some things that perhaps you don’t know or perhaps you forgot in the excitement of summer:

  • Victoria and Esquimalt Police departments stopped processing criminal record checks in July. (Both the Ministry of Justice and the Victoria and Esquimalt Police will continue to process CRC for individuals requiring a Vulnerable Sector Check). The Commissionaires Victoria will provide criminal record check services for volunteers living in Victoria or Esquimalt for the greatly reduced fee of $12. They will even come to your office to help process CRC applications.
  • United Way recently announced a change to its funding cycle. Look for applications to appear this Fall for funding that begins in April 2015.
  • The deadline for social service organizations to apply for Gaming Grants is November 30th. You can track all application approvals online.
  • Grant application deadlines for Victoria Foundation and Telus are quickly approaching.
  • 2014 looks to be a big summer in terms of staff changes at our funding partner organizations. Thanks to Catherine Schissel (United Way) and Gina Pecorelli (Telus) for your care and support and good luck in your new adventures.
  • Just when organizations got logic models and theories of change vocabulary and practice under control, along comes Collective Impact. If you have a little time to invest in learning more about Collective Impact visit http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/collective_impact. Volunteer Victoria will host a Collective Impact Webinar in partnership with the McConnell Foundation in September.
  • Norm Smookler is offering free Exceptional Leader evaluations to anyone in the non-profit sector. This is great tool to help you figure out your leadership strengths and preferences. Visit www.normsmookler.com/360-leader-feedback-tool.php for more information.
  • Did you know that Service Canada has a program called Work-sharing? Work-Sharing is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. The program provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers. Work-Sharing is a three-party agreement involving employers, employees and Service Canada. Employees on a Work-Sharing agreement must agree to a reduced schedule of work and to share the available work over a specified period of time. The goal of the Work-Sharing program is to avoid layoffs and for all participating employees to return to normal working hours by the end of the agreement. Visit www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/work_sharing/ws_applicantguide.pdf for more information. And,
  • If your organization is like Volunteer Victoria you are currently working on strategies to ensure that youth client needs will be met in the fall. We are working with three possible scenarios – no school, some school, or a complete return to school.

Who said August would be quiet?