Gone Fishin’

If you have looked around your office and realized that no one else is there – you are not alone! It is the time of the year when staff, board members, and volunteers take vacations, stay-cations, and even the occasional fishing trip. 

We went fishing this month too – to catch a glimpse of the local non-profit community and to see what trends are emerging.

Now, you should know that this wasn’t a big, complex research study. This quick little survey resulted in a 15% response rate where nearly 60% of respondents have operational budgets between $100,000 and $500,000. The results are not statistically relevant or accurate but they did confirm what many of us already believe – that there are complex funding challenges ahead, non-profit leaders remain resilient but are pulled in many directions, and that many organizations have significant milestones to celebrate in 2014.

Here’s what we learned from survey respondents:
40% reported a 10% or greater drop in revenues from fundraising events
26% experienced a more than 10% reduction or a 100% loss of Government Contracts for Services. One organization articulated the seriousness of their loss, “Our organization is on the brink of serious layoffs, termination of staff and program cuts due to decreases in government funding.”
20% report that it is likely or very likely that they will reduce paid staff. More than 48% are planning to increase wages
78% plan on recruiting student interns to help and 92% are looking for volunteers to help
25% report a 10% or greater reduction in grant funding and 33% report a 10% or greater reduction in corporate donations
60% of respondents report that it is likely or very likely that they will increase grant funding and 45% think it likely that they will increase cash sponsorships in the coming year
Municipal funding is shifting – 23% reported more than a 10% reduction and 23% reported a more than 10% increase in funding
11% reported 1st time funding from Gaming
85% of organizations with non government contracts for services expect revenues to stay the same
United Way funding was the only funding source where 100% of respondents reported no change in revenues 
46% reported that they earned more self-generated revenues. 70% report that it is likely or very likely that they will  increase self-generated revenues in the coming year
89% expect individual monthly giving to stay the same or increase
62% are actively trying to reduce expenses and 70% are looking for partners to share costs and leverage resources
90% are looking for new program partners
38% of agencies report that it is challenging or very challenging to meet their mission and strategic goals
80% shared reasons for celebration – many organizations are celebrating anniversaries in 2014 – one 50 year and eight 25, 30, and 40 year anniversaries –  other celebrations include increased client outcomes, new partnerships, funders, and services, increased client registration in programs, and dedicated staff and volunteers

Introducing Julia-Anne Cameron, Youth Program Coordinator

The following is a guest blog post written and researched by one of Volunteer Victoria’s volunteer writers, Kate Lautens. Kate is ourVolunteer Victoria Media Copy Writer, twitter volunteer extraordinaire and occasional blogger. Kate interviewed Julia-Anne Cameron, Volunteer Victoria’s newest team member and Youth Program Coordinator. We welcome Julia-Anne, her boundless energy and commitment to youth and volunteerism to the Volunteer Victoria team.  Please Enjoy! !

Julia-Anne Cameron’s greatest passions are youth and volunteering, so she could not pass up the chance to apply for the role of Youth Program Coordinator at Volunteer Victoria – and Volunteer Victoria is pleased to say that she was the perfect fit! When Julia-Anne found out she had been selected for the position, she hadn’t even had her official convocation for her undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria. “Seeing a job posting that combined [youth and volunteering], especially one at such an amazing agency like Volunteer Victoria, was a ‘must apply’ in my books,” Julia-Anne says. Now, with her bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care in hand, Julia-Anne is ready to take on new challenges with Volunteer Victoria.

She credits her experience at UVic for giving her confidence to take on new experiences. “The School of Child and Youth Care is a phenomenal program that has left me feeling extremely grounded in my practice, at the same time as being very excited to challenge myself,” she says. Her program included one practicum with Big Brothers Big Sister Victoria, as well as a second as a Youth and Family Counselor at a local middle school through the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association. Julia-Anne calls the experiences life changing: “the two experiences…have given me many tools and strategies, including a strong foundation for youth engagement practices through meaningful relationships,” she says.

“I firmly believe in youth, and I firmly believe in volunteering,” Julia-Anne says. In her new position with Volunteer Victoria (which Leanna Hill held until May 2012 when she moved on to become Manager of Training and Outreach), Julia-Anne will be right at home. “I am most excited about getting to know and work with the youth in our community, as well as the many dedicated Member Agencies,” she says. An Oak Bay Secondary Grad, Julia-Anne spent a lot of time working at Recreation Oak Bay as a Team Lead lifeguard and instructor. Although she was born in Vancouver, Julia-Anne moved to Victoria when she was three years old. “I have always thought of this beautiful city as home!”

Julia-Anne understands the importance of the Youth Program in Greater Victoria. “The biggest impact we have on the community is offering youth a safe space for positive engagement,” she says. With over 300 member agencies to choose from, there’s a great opportunity out there for everyone. “We truly work to find a meaningful volunteer position for each youth who comes to see us.”

Julia-Anne’s position is not without its challenges, which she readily acknowledges. “The biggest challenge is going to be the fall,” she says. I have heard it is going to be extremely busy, but I know I can do it with this amazing team at Volunteer Victoria behind me!” Julia-Anne says she’s using the summer months to prepare and organize as much as she can. “Even if it is busy, the fall months will run like a well oiled machine,” she says.

Despite the challenges that may lie ahead, Julia-Anne is looking forward to whatever her role brings. “I love to work with young people because of the energy, the ideas, and the endless possibilities they all have,” she says. “Every person is unique, and being able to facilitate their exploration of individual skills, goals, passions, and interests is something I really enjoy doing.”

The Youth Volunteer Connections Program serves young people 15-29 years old, and supports them in their search for meaningful volunteer positions in Greater Victoria. The YVCP team provides support at any step of a youth volunteer’s journey – from finding a position, to navigating challenges, to celebrating successes. Check out www.volunteervictoria.bc.ca/youth for more information or to set up an appointment to meet with Julia-Anne Cameron or Ebony Logins.

Meet our new Youth Team!

The following is a guest blog post written and researched by one of Volunteer Victoria’s volunteer writers, Kate Lautens. Kate is one of two Volunteer Victoria Media Copy Writers that have been with us for over a year. Enjoy! !

The Youth Volunteer Connections Program (YVCP), Volunteer Victoria’s program supporting young people 15-29 in finding meaningful and rewarding volunteer opportunities, recently added three new staff members, Vik Dhindsa, Ebony Logins and Amy Hartzenberg. Under the leadership of Leanna Hill, program coordinator of the YVCP and recent recipient of the Vancity youth award at the Victoria Leadership Awards, these three enthusiastic individuals will be reaching out to youth in the community in a variety of ways. They’ll be visiting local high schools to meet with youth looking for volunteer positions and helping them find the perfect fit. In addition, the extra staff will allow Volunteer Victoria to remain open until 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, providing further opportunities for youth to make use of our services. Let’s get to know the new YVCP team members!

Vik Dhindsa

Don’t expect to see Vik Dhindsa cooped up in the Volunteer Victoria office all day: he’ll also be at Victoria High School to help students who are excited and interested in volunteering. “I am very excited to help youth find volunteer positions that they truly value, and promoting the importance of the impact youth can have in our communities,” Vik says. His first few days on the job were quite seamless, he says, thanks to the welcoming and supportive team at Volunteer Victoria. “It is a great feeling knowing I have such a supportive group of wonderful individuals in my corner!”

While born inEdmonton, Vik considers himself to have been raised inVictoria. He completed a Bachelors of Science degree at UVic, majoring in biology. In addition to his new role at Volunteer Victoria, he is an Inclusion Facilitator at the Teen Community Connections Program, run out of Community Living Victoria. The program supports youth who have various developmental disabilities. He also helps run a volunteer organization at theUniversityofVictoriathat promotes the importance of youth engagement in their communities. “The combination of these two [jobs] really played a big role in my decision to apply for the job at Volunteer Victoria,” Vik says. “I have strong passion for working with youth, and truly believe volunteerism can be a key player in changing our communities for the better.”

Ebony Logins

As part of her role in the YVCT, Ebony Logins is looking forward to meeting youth in the community and helping them find an enjoyable volunteer position. “I will be going to high schools as a friendly face for youth to meet with and discuss volunteerism,” Ebony says. “Sometimes it can be hard finding an opportunity that is the right fit for your needs, and we are here to help make your experiences fun and rewarding,” she adds.

Originally from “the distantlandofSooke,” Ebony left to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management atVancouver IslandUniversity. “Some of my favourite courses dealt with leadership, volunteer management, youth engagement in community planning, and cultural issues,” she says. “Luckily, these topics have related to many aspects of my life, including my role with Volunteer Victoria.”

Before joining the YVCP, Ebony was an event coordinator, working on weddings and corporate events. While she still loves planning events, she says she’s on a mission to add passion to her life. “I love the non-profit sector because everyone loves what they do,” she says, “and it shows!” After finishing her degree, Ebony moved back to Sooke, where she spends a lot of time at Whiffen Spit with Monty, her dog. 

Now, she says she’s very excited to be working with the YVCP, which she calls an amazing resource for youth inVictoria. “If you’re looking for hours, want to give back, need help finding placement, or want to try something new, I am more than happy to help in any way possible,” Amber says. “VolunteerVictoriais full of amazing people who are always willing to help and go the extra mile for you. This is the kind of environment I truly enjoy being a part of.”

Amy Hartzenberg

Amy Hartzenberg, who is working as a supporting member of the YVCP, first came to Volunteer Victoria as a practicum student, creating workshops for youth during spring break. “When an opportunity came up to become more involved and have the chance to work with youth beyond just my volunteer position, I jumped at the chance,” Amy says. Her role in the YVCP involves talking to youth about volunteering, then helping them find engaging volunteer positions, along with any other work that will help get youth inVictoria involved. “It’s really exciting to be part of a team with so much energy,” she says.

“I’m ready for anything,” Amy says of her new position. “I know that [with] youth going through transitions – such as becoming more involved in a community, whether at university or their local neighborhood – anything can happen. So I am trying to be prepared for the unexpected,” she says.

Originally from the Lower Mainland, Amy moved toVictoriato attend UVic. She’s almost finished a degree in economics and environmental studies, in the hopes that it will help her have a positive impact on the world, she says. “During my time inVictoria, my interest in change at the community level and appreciation for volunteer work has continued to grow. It’s no wonder I found my way to Volunteer Victoria!”

VolunteerVictoria is glad that all three of you did!

Crafting Great Blog Posts

We don’t often discuss here on our blog about how we actually manage our blog, so we thought we’d – of course! – write a blog post about it to help other organizations that would like to start or enhancing their blogging practices.

At Volunteer Victoria we have five staff members that regularly write posts for this blog. On top of the posts that Lisa, Lori, Leanna, Lornna and I create (I’m lucky they let me help since my name doesn’t begin with ‘L’!), we also bring in volunteers from our programs as much as we can to help out and present a different voice and perspective. For example, I often ask at our professional development workshops if a participant wants to write a blog post on the workshop’s topic, and someone invariably takes me up on this offer. Leanna’s youth volunteers contribute posts from time to time based on their volunteering experiences and Lori’s communications volunteers do as well, doing things like going out and interviewing agencies about their great work and then writing about it. Overall, it takes a small village to keep up a good blog presence, and many hands do indeed make light work.

However, sometimes many hands makes work a bit complicated. We recently realized that with so many people contributing to the blog now that it made sense to create a document that could guide both staff and volunteers in how to craft great blog posts. We knew we couldn’t rely on people to “just get it”, especially people who have never blogged before and perhaps might not understand how this medium is different from say, academic essay writing or crafting PR documents.

I ended up creating a fun, visual representation of the best, most simple advice we could muster between ourselves about what great “Blogging at Volunteer Victoria” should look like. It’s included here at the top of this post – click on it and you’ll get a larger-sized version.

We’ll consider this the first draft of an image that is sure to change as fast as technology and blogging practices do!

We’d love to hear what you think about our guidelines based on your own experiences. Have we missed anything crucial? What have you found works for your organizations in managing blogs with multiple authors?

New Executive Director for Volunteer Victoria

Val Green, Volunteer Victoria’s Executive Director over the past 10 years, has begun her transition to retirement. She has worked with the organization for over 20 years and has been an inspiring, adept, and visionary leader not only for Volunteer Victoria, but also in the community. A board member recently shared that no task is too big, or too small for Val; an apt description of Val’s ability to make great things happen while including and inspiring her teams along the way.

We thank Val for her years of commitment, hard work, and good humour, and we wish her well in the years of adventure and gardening that lay ahead.

This article first appeared in Volunteer Victoria’s E-Link newsletter on May 20th, 2011. Sign up for E-Link and keep current with news and information from Volunteer Victoria.

The Board of Directors of Volunteer Victoria, after an extensive search, is pleased to announce that effective June 16, 2011, Lisa Mort-Putland will become the new Executive Director of Volunteer Victoria.

Lisa has a strong professional background in the non-profit sector. She comes to Volunteer Victoria from her position as Development Manager for Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Victoria and brings together a unique mix of the analytical, creative and strategic thinking skills that we believe will lead our community in volunteer engagement and commitment.

The board is excited by the skills and experience that Lisa will bring to her role as Executive Director of Volunteer Victoria.

Lisa is delighted at the opportunity to contribute to the Volunteer Victoria team. “I believe so strongly in the mission and core values of Volunteer Victoria. It is a privilege to apply my experiences and knowledge in an organization that helps empower others to grow and learn through positive engagement and volunteer leadership.”

“It is also a great honour to be asked to continue the wonderful work and excellent standard of care and attention paid by Val Green and to continue the organization’s commitment to programs and practices that support and enhance innovation, partnership, and service to our community and stakeholders.”

As Lisa prepares to join Volunteer Victoria, Val Green, our Executive Director for the past 9 years, looks forward to retirement and to new ways of being involved in her community.

Val is very excited by the appointment of Lisa, “She brings energy, passion, skilled relationship building and a strong understanding of the local non-profit community. All the things that our organization is known for. The capacity of Volunteer Victoria will be enhanced and enriched through her leadership.”

“I look forward to transitioning my role to Lisa,” adds Val. “She will be leading a dedicated team of hard working staff, each of whom brings experience, skill and passion to their work. I know they are looking forward to building on the new opportunities this transition brings.”

Please join us in welcoming Lisa to Volunteer Victoria on June 16, 2011.

Elizabeth Summers
Board Chair,

Volunteer Victoria

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