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Volunteer Management

Make the Right Connections

Whether you are just starting to build a volunteer program or have been doing it for years, draw the many community resources that can update you on best volunteer management practices and help with advocacy and training.

Volunteer Centres and the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN)

Connecting with your local Volunteer Centre is a great way to start the process. These centres connect volunteers with non-profits, help organizations build capacity and facilitate a network of resources, opportunities and organizations.


The Professional Association of Volunteer Leaders-Ontario offers professional development through certification, conferences, regional workshops, advocacy and standards of practice.

Volunteer Canada

For a Canadian perspective on volunteerism, check out Volunteer Canada, which offers non-profit organizations a wealth of research, tools and resources including legal advice and insurance.

Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration & International Trade

The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship & Immigration is a strong supporter and promoter of volunteerism in Ontario. The MCIIT website offers resources on a wide range of relevant topics, everything from applying for volunteerism grants to involving newcomer youth as volunteers. 

Ontario Non-Profit Network

The Ontario Non-profit Network keeps up to date on legislation and policies that affect non-profits so it can advocate effectively for the non-profit sector across Ontario and help build stronger networks, voices and communities. 

Imagine Canada

Imagine Canada’s main mission is to support and grow Canadian charities. Its website delivers an excellent resources page with information and tools that can help build your organization’s capacity. 

Offer Non-Traditional Volunteering Options  

Having trouble engaging or retaining volunteers? Maybe it’s time for your organization to try something new! The following flexible options might better meet the needs of some of your would-be volunteers.

One-Time Events

Many people hesitate to volunteer because they aren’t sure whether they will enjoy the experience. They often won’t commit long term until they know more about your organization and are certain they will be linked to a meaningful position. Simple short-term opportunities such as selling tickets at an annual fundraising event are an excellent way to build relationships with potential volunteers. In the long term, this approach can save your non-profit time and money as you won’t be onboarding as many volunteers who lack commitment.  

Group Volunteering

Although people often volunteer because it’s an easy way to meet new friends or connections, others would prefer to volunteer alongside people they already know. Make it easy for these folks by providing group opportunities. Consider blocking off an evening for new and current volunteers to stuff envelopes for an annual donor mail-out (don’t forget snacks and music!) Group volunteering not only means will you get more done more quickly, but you’ll be creating relationships between other volunteers―and better relationships means better engagement and retention of volunteers.

Virtual Volunteering

In a world in which people shop, network and do business online, virtual volunteering makes a lot of sense, especially for those who work full-time, provide child or elder care, or live with disabilities. Virtual volunteers can contribute to your organization in many ways, such as designing marketing materials, writing blogs, creating funding proposals or providing admin support. If you’re short on virtual volunteering ideas, head over to VolunteerMatch. (And when you’re posting on Spark, don’t forget to indicate that your position is virtual so that anyone in the province can volunteer with you!) 

Six Tips for Setting Up Successful Virtual Volunteering Programs

Before you implement a virtual volunteering program keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Be clear about what you want done and when
  2. Create projects that can be done in a finite amount of time
  3. As with in-person volunteers, call references, conduct background checks, check credentials to make sure they have the skills you need and look at their LinkedIn profile.
  4. Educate staff and key volunteers about virtual volunteering.
  5. Ensure you still provide supervision and recognition―check in often by email or phone to say thank you and to see how things are going.
  6. Make sure you keep virtual volunteers in the loop, forwarding them reminders about upcoming meetings, updates to your policies, or feedback from satisfied clients.
NSD Community

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Spark Plugs

Great stuff from around the world. Check back often to see what's new!

Orientation and training can help new volunteers feel energized about your cause! Check out this recent blog post on Classy.org for tips on giving volunteers the tools they need to suceed.

Want to kickstart new ways to mobilize large numbers of volunteers for your cause? Take a look at the four factors in this article that can help you succeed!

This article, revived from the NPQ archives, challenges nonprofits to think more about social inclusion when engaging volunteers. Check out the Key Questions section to see how your organization measures up!

Want to stay up to date on Ontario's accessibility laws? Take a look at the resources the Ontario Nonprofit Network has gathered to help nonprofits understand how to support persons with disabilities.

Hosting a community event or festival? 

The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has published a new booklet titled, “Planning Accessible Events: So Everyone Feels Welcome.”  It includes information on no-cost or low-cost actions that can help reduce barriers for people with disabilities and make events more inclusive!

Getting to know the unique strengths and talents of their volunteers has been the key to sucess for Braille Institute San Diego. Find out what else they do to keep volunteers feeling the SPARK!

Support the impact volunteers want to make at your organization by ensuring staff understand how they make a difference. This article shares some great tips to help get staff excited about volunteer involvement.

Talk about multitasking! Check out this infographic that describes the 15 Roles that Volunteer Managers Play.

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