OVCN and Charity Republic’s Strategic Partnership Provides Easy Access to new Volunteer Management Software

OVCN logo 1Charity Republic logo (for IC)


Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN) is pleased to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership with Waterloo Region’s leading volunteer software startup, Charity Republic. The partnership brings a solution to those who manage volunteers, making the software available to not-for-profits and charitable organizations across Ontario through their respective Volunteer Centres. The new software, a CRM for not-for-profits, creates easy and affordable access to an all-in-one web and mobile platform, making it easier to schedule, track, manage and report on volunteers.

Founder and CEO of Charity Republic, the Kitchener-based software company that designed the software, Popy Dimoulas-Graham said, “It is an honour to work with the OVCN and its member organizations to create a volunteer management solution that benefits volunteer managers and volunteers, as well as have a long-term impact on building capacity for charities and not-for-profits.”

Prior to and during the software development process, Charity Republic’s development team collaborated with over 60 charities and not-for-profit organizations to ensure that the software met the unique needs of its users, and helped them build greater capacity.

Speaking on behalf of the OVCN, PREB-Ontario’s Project Manager, Cody Palmer-Almond said, “Now that volunteers have the opportunity to gain a personalized, official PREB Certificate using the PREB-Ontario program, accurate and proper volunteer management is critical. The program not only helps managers of volunteers better record volunteers’ time and activities, but it also makes it much easier to accurately transfer volunteers’ attributes to PREB-Certificates.”

“This is the value that our amazing relationship with Charity Republic has brought to the voluntary sector and we are so thankful for their commitment to quality and excellence.”

This is not the only partnership OVCN has created with businesses in Waterloo Region. Volunteer Attract, has developed OVCN’s PREB-Ontario system, a set of proprietary online tools used to prepare personalized, official PREB Certificates. The company is also developing the OVCN and ChangetheWorld websites. These partnerships allow for closer collaboration and more complimentary, unified systems with greater user experiences.

About Charity Republic

Charity Republic is a software company specializing in software solutions for charities, non-profits, high schools and universities. The company promote meaningful volunteerism and community engagement via accessible and efficient technology solutions. In addition, they are already working with over 35 school districts and universities across Ontario, helping students and teachers to track and manage co-operative education, community service, practicums, volunteer hours and activities.

About OVCN

Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN) is an unincorporated network of Volunteer Centres led by a Steering Committee. OVCN provides a provincial network and voice to strengthen the individual and collective ability of Volunteer Centres in Ontario, to promote and develop volunteerism. OVCN also inspires and strengthens leadership through community service and volunteer engagement, and promotes the 3Rs of volunteerism – Recruit! Retain! Recognize!

For more information, please contact:

Charity Republic
info [at] charityrepublic.com

Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN)
communications [at] ovcn.ca

How teachers are using digital tools to truly personalize learning

Nov 4, 2015

Excerpt from Canadian Business, by Peter NowakIllustration by Matt Murphy - Canadian Business

…School boards are similarly seeking out Charity Republic, based in Kitchener, Ont. The company makes an online tool for digitally tracking work placements, internships and volunteer hours. The idea revolves around replacing paper-based tracking methods, which can easily be lost. Like Sesame, Charity Republic creates data that can shared between teachers, students and parents.

‏“We found students weren’t graduating because they’d lost a piece of paper,” says founder Popy Dimoulas-Graham. “When they see students not graduating because of paper inefficiencies, schools are definitely drawn to using products like ours.”

‏Dimoulas-Graham had previously worked as an online course facilitator in epidemiology for the Public Health Agency of Canada before starting Charity Republic in 2010 with an eye to helping charities manage their volunteers. The business only started growing three years ago, after she realized the software could plug an existing hole in the education system.

‏Thirty-five school boards and universities in Ontario are now using Charity Republic’s software, with more coming soon in Alberta and British Columbia, she says. The company, which still deals with charities as well, is up to five full-time and two part-time employees.

To read the rest of this article, which was originally published in Canadian Business, please click here.

Webinar Schedule | Charity Republic

Welcome to our Webinar Schedule information page. Below is a schedule of the days and times of our free weekly webinars.

Webinar Schedule ( Fall 2016)

Every Monday @ 10:00am – 10:30am EST

Every Tuesday @ 11:30am – 12:00pm EST

Every Wednesday @ 3:30pm – 4:00pm EST

This is a live webinar where we walk you through the software from start to finish and answer any questions you may have.

To register for your spot in one of our free webinars, please email us at info@charityrepublic.com

To learn more about our Volunteer Management Software, please visit us at CharityRepublic.com

Volunteer Thank You Letter Template

The Volunteer Thank You Letter template is linked below. If you need tips on creating your own custom Thank You Letter, check out the 5 tips below the link:

Volunteer Thank You Letter Template (Event)

  1. Think about what kind of relationship you have with your volunteer. Are they a one time volunteer or a continuous one?
  2. Focus on the areas where they really shine. This doesn’t have to be a specific skill related to your organization. Do they make everyone around them laugh or feel better about their day? If it’s what makes them an asset, it might be worth mentioning.
  3. Consult any notes you may have made throughout this person’s time with your organization to ensure you don’t miss anything.
  4. The first draft is never the final draft. Put time and effort into it – it will show.
  5. If you would rather speak over the phone or in person with the volunteer, also follow these steps to ensure you have all your talking points in order!

Charity Highlight | Boys & Girls Club of London

Boys & Girls Club of London

Welcome to our weekly charity and non-profit highlight. Each week we will be shining the spotlight on a different charity or non-profit, who, in our humble opinion, deserves some extra recognition for the work that they do.

This week we will be focusing on the Boys & Girls Club of London.

hiThey are a non-profit family recreational facility that provides recreational activities for children and youth outside of school. During the school year, they offer free busing to the Club, as well as a nightly Supper Club that offers children and youth nutritious meals at a cost of just $2.

Their vision:

All members of the community discover and achieve their dreams to be healthy, successful, and active participants in society.

This vision is relevant and noble because according to the latest stats about childhood obesity and well-being, if our Canadian children are not more active, we will face an epidemic of obesity and related illnesses.

With more children choosing to stay inside and stay connected to their mobile devices, the cause for concern over our children’s health is certainly quite high.

It is because of this fact that we think the Boys & Girls Club of London is more important than ever before.

Luckily, with full access to:

  • Two swimming pools;
  • Gymnasium;
  • Exciting new room called the “Imagination Play Room;
  • One ball room;
  • Homework help room;
  • Games room;
  • Craft room;
  • Activity clubs room; and,
  • Club house café;

there are plenty of options for children and youth to have loads of fun while being very active.

It’s not just through the school year that children and youth benefit from the Boys & Girls Club of London’s exemplary services, though. During the summer they offer programs such as an Afternoon Adventure, Day Camp, and Summer Swim Lessons.

The Club also offers a full range of features for senior citizens to get active, and boasts an ‘extended family’ of over 1,400 citizens 55 years old and up.

We are delighted to know there are organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of London that strive every day to promote health, friendship, and team play for youth and children.

To sign up as a member, a volunteer, or to donate, visit their website here.

Do you have an organization you think deserves some extra recognition? Let us know!

Give Before You Get: Volunteering and the Case of the Unemployed Millennials

If you’re young, say 18-24 years old, getting a job is hard. Actually, it’s beyond hard. More like landing a rover on Mars hard.

If you’re a recent secondary or postsecondary graduate, the odds are you’ve already learned this fact for yourself.

According to the most recent statistics, Ontario’s youth unemployment rate has spiked to 17.1%, while the rest of Canada’s youth unemployment rate has come in at about 14.5%. The alarming news is that this doesn’t seem to be due to a lack of jobs. In fact, out of 1,425 students and youth surveyed, only 37% cited a lack of jobs as the perceived reason for their unemployment.

To read the rest of this article, which was originally published on Charity Village, please click here.



Charity Highlight |Ontario Volunteer Centre Network

Welcome to our weekly charity and non-profit highlight. Each week we will be shining the spotlight on a different charity or non-profit, who, in our humble opinion, deserves some extra recognition for the work that they do.

This week we would like to bring attention to the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN), an informal network of 26 Volunteer Centres in Ontario.

If you’re already a volunteer , chances are you are familiar with a Volunteer Centre in your region. If not, then you might be surprised to find out that there are non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting volunteerism and helping connect organizations with volunteers and volunteers with opportunities.

The OVCN seeks to bring these VC’s together in order to achieve not only their own goals, but the goals of the non-profit sector as a whole within Ontario. The idea being that together their synergy will achieve more than the sum of them as separate parties.

Most recently, the OVCN was a huge part of recruiting volunteers for the Pan Am/Parapan Am games held in Toronto. The games would not have been possible without the hard work of all of their volunteers, according to the games’ organizers.

In coordination with the Pan/Parapan Am Games, the OVCN has coordinated the implementation of PREB-Ontario, which is a system set up to recognize volunteers for the skills they demonstrated while volunteering by creating PREB-Ontario certificates. These certificates outline in detail the tasks and activities, based upon the National Occupation Classification, and also details key aspects of a volunteer’s experience, such as hours of volunteering completed, activities performed, special achievements or training obtained and special comments by supervisors. PREB-Ontario is part of the Volunteer Legacy initiative from the Pan/Parapan Am Games and has been made possible through funding support from the Government of Ontario.

Recently completing its 8th year, the OVCN’s Change The World – Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge saw 42,000 youth contribute 225,000 hours through volunteering. This year’s goal was 37,000 volunteers and 111,000 hours volunteered. This initiative continues to surpass its goals. Find out how you can get involved right here.

Their Vision:

The Ontario Volunteer Centre Network envisions healthy, resilient and engaged communities where we provide a collective voice for Volunteer Centres and volunteerism.

The OVCN’s goals are to:

  •  Achieve sustainability for Ontario’s Volunteer Centres and the OVCN
  •  Assist Volunteer Centres to enhance their capacity to deliver quality programs and services
  •  Influence social policy as it relates to Volunteer Centres and volunteerism
  •  Increase public awareness of the value and impact of volunteerism

If you’re looking to get involved, you can locate your closest Volunteer Centre right here.

Thanks to the OVCN and their member organizations for all the work they do in raising the profile of volunteerism in Ontario.

community image

Volunteer Coordinators: The Unsung Heroes of the Non-Profit World

If you were asked to name 5 charities and non-profits off the top of your head, could you? Most people probably could. If you were to pick one charity and then name 5 positions crucial to its success, could you? Maybe. You’ll probably get a few: Executive Director, Communications Manager, Volunteers… Uhm… Yeah, it’s tough for most people – and that might be a bigger problem than you realize.

Why? Because despite existing to serve, charities and non-profits still require the same things a for-profit business does – marketing plans, advertisements, staff (or in this case, volunteer) management software, scheduling software, etc. – but most people aren’t aware of that fact.

So how do charities and non-profits ensure these goals are accomplished?

The answer is by hiring the one person you’re least likely to hear about (yet charities and non-profits are completely lost without): the Volunteer Coordinator / Manager. Their job sounds exactly like it is; they’re in charge of organizing volunteers, matching them to positions, scheduling dozens (or hundreds) of positions, ensuring volunteers are qualified, tracking hours and activities, and communicating with their volunteers and volunteer supervisors. Unfortunately, often they’re doing this from a basic spreadsheet or an inadequate piece of software.

Could you imagine managing a database of 250+ employees with a spreadsheet? Staffing positions, matching appropriate skill sets to appropriate opportunities, engaging your staff to make sure they’re productive and happy, all from a spreadsheet document?

What if, on top of all that you had to create and track each individual’s profile, achievements, qualifications, and then communicate with all of them and maintain notes on their status and progress? You might be thinking that it can’t be done, yet this is the reality so many hard working Volunteer Coordinators face every day.

“But isn’t there some kind of software for volunteer management?”

Yes, there is. The problem isn’t that solutions don’t exist, it’s that there are a variety of obstacles preventing Volunteer Coordinators from using appropriate software to enable them to be more efficient in their duties.

For starters, several organizations have purchased Donor Management Software – which is useful for managing donors, of course. The problem comes when Volunteer Coordinators have to ‘make due’ with just that program. Donor Management software, or, in some cases, HR and Customer Relationship Management software, is designed to engage and manage donors through tracking who donates what, how much, and how often, or which employees log their hours on which days respectively. Although most of these programs attach another module for ‘volunteer management,’ it is typically nothing more than a glorified replica of donor management – so we’re back at square one.

Would an Executive Director manage all of this with a substandard software or a spreadsheet doc? Not. Too. Likely.

Furthermore, Donor Management software is designed to manage campaigns based around raising funds and finding donors. This is so, so important, don’t get us wrong, but it is not the right tool for volunteer engagement and management.

There are lots of warnings that volunteer engagement is facing a decline and needs to be reimagined in order to fix the emerging issues that could start snowballing into a significant problem for the non-profit sector.

It’s no secret that without volunteers many of the charities and non-profits we donate our time and money to would cease to exist in the same capacity they do currently. As volunteers are so incredibly vital, ensuring they’re properly matched, engaged, and utilized to an organization’s maximum potential is crucial to charitable programs being successful.

It’s important then to realize that donor management software, necessary as it is, is not the appropriate tool to circumventing a volunteer engagement problem. Volunteer Coordinators work hard, as hard as anyone, so shouldn’t they be using the right tools to perform their jobs at the highest level possible?

But do Volunteer Coordinators really feel that they need better software? Well, let’s look at some results from a survey we conducted of over 60 Volunteer Coordinators and what they had to say.

Volunteer Survey 1 Volunteer Survey 2

This paints a pretty clear problem. Volunteer Coordinators, even when using software, are seriously lacking the appropriate technology required to fix their main concerns: communicating, reporting on activities, scheduling, and tracking volunteer progress and activities.

Since Donor Management, HR, and CRM software aren’t meeting these needs, it’s time to empower our Volunteer Coordinators with the technology that will support them in their daily endeavours. It’s clear that their position is one requiring an intelligent individual deserving of respect and admiration, so we think it’s time they are given all the right tools to keep being their awesome selves.


First world problems  

As a social enterprise with a team who regularly volunteers, examining our impact on the communities we work and volunteer in is a common occurrence. Around the office we talk about the pros and cons of volunteerism both domestic and abroad, and how we can lead our lives in a way that has the highest positive impact on those around us.

Recently, one of our staff stumbled across a viral video, titled First World Problems Anthem. The video, which features individuals from Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, standing in front of worn down buildings and old streams while reading tweets from the popular #FirstWorldProblems hashtag, has racked up over 6.5 million views since its release.

Anyone who has ever used, or viewed and found humour in, the hashtag itself, is sure to have a moment of remorse or guilt for complaining about problems that ‘aren’t really problems,’ as the video points out during its conclusion.

It’s a lesson in perspective and relativism, and it’s certainly deserving of the amount of views it has. It does a fine job of making viewers stop and think, or, more importantly, stop and remember that things could be considerably worse.

first world problems 2

Like any good viral campaign, a conversation about the video, and its far-reaching implications, has sprung up across the internet. In true internet fashion, the debate has managed to turn what appears to be a black-and-white “don’t whine about meaningless issues” conversation into more of a grey area “but why don’t my problems matter?” dialogue.

For starters, using the ‘plight of poor 3rd world citizens’ stereotype to make a point doesn’t sit well with some critics of the video. The aforementioned article makes a compelling point that simply saying, “Your problems don’t count because there are those that have it worse,” is not always the most appropriate way of putting things into context.

Yes, maybe your toilet breaking isn’t a world-ending issue deserving of the inevitable post you shared on social media, but at the same time, just because there are people living in areas where plumbing is but a far-fetched fantasy, does not necessarily mean that your toilet problems are invalid.

The author from DailyBeast.com continues to drive home his point, arguing that sometimes attempting to render North American’s problems obsolete by things like comparing them to the latest tragedy of a far away land, is inappropriate:

“Take the bomb-throwing atheist Richard Dawkins, who rolled his eyes at allegations that female atheists are routinely forced to endure the awkward advances of male atheists. Dawkins commented acidly, ‘Yes, yes, … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.’

The anti-Dawkins chorus responded—led not by theists, but by progressives who hate Islamophobia more than they hate religion—pointing out, quite rightly, that just because many women in the Muslim world are victims of sexism, institutional discrimination, and daily indignities doesn’t mean that inappropriate comments in the West are therefore rendered appropriate.”

A good point, but in the same moral grey area style this author writes in, let’s keep in mind that it doesn’t mean the video doesn’t have substantial validity.

For every detractor, it seems there are at least twice as many supporters of the video. The video, by the way, was created by WATERisLIFE, an organization that is doing incredible work worldwide. Their website is full of information that lends credibility to the importance of the video and the urgency of the cause, such as the fact that 1 in 5 children under the age of 5-years-old will die from waterborne disease every day this year.

first world problems 3

It seems fair then that using a guilt trip campaign will have the desired impact of making people think twice about what they share on social media and how they can help those less fortunate.

CNN’s coverage features some of the YouTube comments from the video, for reference:

“I used to think that first world problems were hilarious, but now I just feel bad.” 

Another person laments: “Okay (it’s) true I am a self centered stubborn brat. I have no idea how good I have it.”

The executive director of WATERisLIFE, Kristine Bender, weighed in at the end of the CNN article:

“People are becoming desensitized to suffering and we needed to enter the social space with a provocative approach to get those who are lucky enough to have simple things such as water, food, and shelter to reflect on their 140 characters and support causes like WATERisLIFE.”

Great point. How do you get people who are being bombarded by information 24/7/365 to not just pay attention to the information you’re sharing, but to actually care enough to absorb it and then take action?

Most organizations will never have an Ice Bucket Challenge level of success with their campaigns, and unfortunately, the reality is that even charities and non-profits are in a competitive market chasing support much the same way for-profit businesses are. So maybe the anti-FirstWorldProblems Anthem crowd could remember that WATERisLIFE deserves a little bit of leeway regarding their approach.

After all, they have created a conversation that was long overdue in Western culture.

We watched the video as a team and felt deeply moved to remember to check our privilege at the door before we indulge in sharing our own petty complaints.

It’s great that people are thinking more deeply about what they’re sharing on social media and how their words impact others. After all, whether you view this as an important moral issue or not, couldn’t we all spend a little more time reflecting on what we say online?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study- Impacting the Way We Interact with Youth & Adults

Most have never heard of the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study which followed over 17,000 people and studied the impact of childhood trauma (e.g. divorce, abuse, neglect) on adult health. The results are fascinating. We work with hundreds of teachers that we think would benefit from learning more about the ACEs study.

The number of ACEs a person has are strongly associated with behaviors such as: smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, severe obesity, depression, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and shorter lifespan.

Having 4 adverse childhood experiences was associated with a seven-fold (700%) increase in alcoholism, and double the risk of being diagnosed with cancer.

An ACE score over 6 was associated with a 30-fold (300%) increase in attempted suicide. The statistics are staggering and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Another study found that students with at least 3 ACEs are 3 times as likely to experience academic failure, 6 times as likely to have behavioral problems, and 5 times as likely to have attendance problems.

10 types of childhood trauma were measured in the ACEs study – 5 were personal and 5 were related to family:




  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • Mother treated violently
  • Household substance abuse
  • Household mental illness
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Incarcerated household member

The trauma experienced can even alter a child’s or adult’s brain architecture (see image of three-year-old brains). The more types of trauma experienced — the higher the ACE score — the more likely the addiction or negative behavior.

This same study contains a seed of hope: all of the above-mentioned risk factors—behavioral as well as physiological—can be offset by the presence of one dependable and caring adult. It doesn’t need to be the mother or the father. It doesn’t even need to be a close or distant relative. More often than not, that stable, caring adult is a teacher.

To learn more, here are additional resources:

Paper Tigers (documentary)
Set within and around Lincoln Alternative High School in a rural community in Washington, Paper Tigers asks the following questions:
– What does it mean to be a trauma-informed school?
– How do you educate teens whose childhood experiences have left them with a brain and body ill-suited to learn?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Huffington Post (interesting read)
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — the Largest Public Health Study You Never Heard Of

Announcing our partnership with VMPC

New Member Benefit: 3 months free trial with Charity Republic for any VMPC Members

To help bring more value to your VMPC membership, VMPC is delighted to announce a new partnership with Charity Republic for a 3-month risk free trial.

What is Charity Republic?

As a Canadian-based social enterprise established in 2010, Charity Republic seeks to empower individuals and organizations to promote positive social change through volunteerism and community engagement. Charity Republic was designed as a web-based tool for non-profits and charities with the help of over 60 volunteer coordinators and is effective in scheduling volunteers, generating useful reports, detailed volunteer profiles, and communication. Visit their website (www.charityrepublic.com) for a free demo of their product.

Want more info?

Charity republic does several free demos of their software weekly. Before committing to the free trial, their staff will walk you through their software, via a 30-minute webinar, and answer any questions you may have. Their webinars are every Monday (10:00am-EST), Tuesday (11:30am-EST), and Wednesday (2:30pm-EST). You can always contact info@charityrepublic.com with any questions.

How to access your free trial:

To access your 3-month free trial, provide the promo code VMPC when signing up for your free trial at www.charityrepublic.com. You will not have to pay in advance for the software.

Contact Info for Charity Republic


519-804-1962 / 1-866-505-7241

Thank you for supporting VMPC!

How to Sustain Volunteer Efforts After Returning Home

You’ve just returned home from a once in a lifetime volunteer opportunity abroad, but find yourself looking for a way to continue giving back. What can you do? You may feel as though your efforts are best put to use abroad, but there is a great deal of help and support to offer your community after returning home.
Volunteer Cork Board

#1. Get writing

Submit an article to a local newspaper or story idea to a local TV station.
Chances are, local news outlets will be very interested in what they call a “human interest” story about your experiences abroad. Particularly if you have great photos or videos to accompany the story. Newspapers are always looking for guest writers. You can submit a story to their editor and if they are interested, they will publish it. They may make some changes to your article, but that’s common and nothing to be worried about. You may even be offered compensation for your article, which you can donate back towards the cause you’re raising awareness for.

For visual media, such as a local TV station, a reporter may come to your home and interview you for stories about your experience abroad. This is a great chance to showcase the organization you volunteered with, what you did while you were there, what others can do, and why you’ve chosen to remain involved after returning home.

#2. Document your trip

Make a documentary or photo collage of your trip. In this day and age, most of us have smartphones or digital cameras with lots of memory. Getting great pictures and videos of your trip is easy to do.

You can put something together and upload it to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media platforms. Whether it’s a quick 30-second video, a collage you put together on your smartphone, or a more in-depth story using complex video editing options, you can still communicate the importance of the cause you’ve volunteered for and continue to raise awareness and funds for them.

3. Organize a fundraiser

Before you get started, understand that this could be a big undertaking. See if friends, family members, or teachers would be willing to help you organize a fundraiser. The size and features of the fundraiser are completely up to you. You can contact the organization you volunteered with to see if they offer support for volunteers who are putting together events.

Some ideas for fundraisers are:
– Silent auctions
– Walks/runs
– Charity barbecues or dinners
– Garage sales

Here are some tips for planning a successful event:

  • See if local businesses, or friends and family members who own businesses, would be willing to donate a prize for you to give away or auction off.
  • Take time to think about the perfect location – You want it to be easy for people to get to, but not be too crowded or busy. Also, consider things like parking, accessibility, and access to restrooms.
  • Advertise online and with flyers leading up to the event.
  • Create an event hashtag and promote it on social media.
  • Contact local media to see if they would be willing to share details of the event, either in a story, or on their event calendar.
  • Make sure you have lots of extra hands to help on the day of the event.
  • Be sure to keep a positive attitude.

#4. Volunteer on a local level

Many national organizations have smaller chapters or offices on the local level. There are usually a limited number of staff members at these offices, so ask whether they need assistance with upcoming events, administrative tasks, or on their planning committees.

#5. Spread the word

Those who know about your volunteerism abroad may not realize that issues often remain long after your return. Continue to update your friends, family, and co-workers about what’s happening with the project or cause you volunteered with, and inform them of ways they can help.

Whether it’s a monthly newsletter, social media post, or phone call/text, the bottom line is that you can bring awareness to the cause by keeping people informed. It may help if you stay in touch with your organizer, or fellow volunteers too. This way, you can share photos, updates, and see the progress – All great things to share in that monthly newsletter.

#6. Write a blog

Writing a blog is a great way to spread the word, like the last point, but with a wider audience. You can reach people worldwide through a blog and may even notice some of the same people coming back for updates, or some who have donated time or money themselves because of your blog.

Starting a blog can be intimidating, but setting goals for yourself and your content at the outset will help ease you into the process.

Some of your blog goals might be:
– To blog once per week.
– To use your blog to make connections in a safe manner on a local, national, or global scale.
– To raise awareness of the project and its changes as time goes on.
– To highlight volunteers, or people affected by the organization’s work.
– Keep track of the number of views, likes, shares, comments to better understand the type of content your audience likes.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to have someone proofread your blog, particularly if you’re going to promote it on a larger scale.

You might decide to do one of these things, or a combination of them. There’s no right or wrong way to give back after you return from abroad. Do what suits you best and understand that any form of continued volunteerism is greatly appreciated by the organizations you’re volunteering with.

The pros and cons of short-terms vs. long-term volunteering

There are many advantages to volunteering in your community. Whether it’s a one-off event, or a long-term position, giving back through volunteerism shows dedication, and highlights your attitude towards the well-being of others. In this day and age, many employers consider volunteering “real” work experience, as these opportunities are both valuable learning experiences and require a great deal of dedication.

Volunteer Cork Board

One-day Volunteering


  • Many volunteer organizations have one or two big events each year. Though these are huge fundraisers for them, the events usually surpass the amount of manpower and capabilities of staff members. This results in a need for support from community volunteers.
  • These short-term opportunities allow you to diversify your experience with several different positions across many events or fundraisers. You may find yourself helping with registration at one event, then at a prize booth at another.
  • Volunteering at a few one-day events each year will help you achieve your community service hours quickly. You may even decide to continue volunteering long after your hours have been completed.
  • One-day events take less time from your schedule, so these types of positions can be great for busy people. Volunteering for a few hours on a weekend is do-able for most and still allows you to give back to the community.
  • Volunteering at one-day events gives you the opportunity to meet dozens, if not hundreds, of people. It is a great chance to network and make valuable connections in the community – something that may be helpful for you down the road.


  • When a large event has wrapped up, there may be no more work for the volunteer until the following year even though a volunteer may be interested in further contributing their time throughout the year.
  • It can be a little overwhelming if you’re new to the role and not very familiar with the organization you’re volunteering for. Be sure to take advantage of orientation sessions and know who to ask about the organization and your role when you have questions.
  • There is limited ability to apply your expertise and skills in a short-term position or to learn new skills.
  • There is limited time to get to know people in depth. Consider exchanging contact information to meet new acquaintances again after the event has wrapped up.
Long-term volunteering


  • Usually, long-term positions, such as committee or board positions allow you to fulfill a “role” such as Sponsorship Coordinator or Food and Beverage Coordinator. As you gain experience in the community, you may take an interest in a particular organization or role, and ask to join the group of volunteers who plan the events. You will be responsible for the success of this aspect of the event. You may even be interested in being a Volunteer Coordinator, ensuring positions similar to ones you had volunteered for in the past are filled.
  • You can learn a lot by volunteering on a committee or board. Even though you’ll likely have a dedicated role, you will still hear the updates from others, and perhaps even give feedback or useful suggestions to help them out. For example, when the Treasurer gives an update about the budget, it’s a good opportunity to understand the financial side behind the effort you’re volunteering for, or if the Volunteer Coordinator mentions they are struggling to recruit enough volunteers, you may have helpful suggestions for them.
  • Long-term volunteering looks great on a resume. It shows dedication towards your community, a strong work ethic, and an eagerness to expand your knowledge and skill base. Additionally, these opportunities may help to fill gaps in your resume, such as school terms, or if you’re in between jobs.
  • You have an opportunity to develop meaningful relationships and get to know people on a deeper level when you meet often during volunteer shifts, at events, etc. Often, those friendships grow beyond your role and blossom regardless of whether you are volunteering or not.


  • Committee or board work can be a significant time commitment, upwards of a few hundred hours per year, depending on how much work you take on. Make sure you know what your limits are, and communicate them with the Chair of your committee or Volunteer Manager. Because these roles often have a greater level of responsibility, it’s important the work does not prevent you from fulfilling your other responsibilities, such as work, school, family, and friends.
  • Depending on the nature of the work, you may begin to develop a strong emotional connection. Most times it is not a bad thing, but can be if left unnoticed. Be sure that you don’t bring any emotional baggage home with you. If the work becomes overwhelming, talk to someone you can trust about your difficulties and think of ways to help offset the stress – even if it means finding a different volunteer opportunity.
  • You may notice increased expenses if you are required to do a lot of driving, or purchasing items on behalf of the organization. Be sure to ask if these costs can be reimbursed, such as by submitting mileage, or expense claims.

Regardless of whether you’re able to volunteer for a few hours on a weekend, or long-term over the course of years, the greatest part about volunteerism is the satisfaction you feel when you know you’re making a difference. Many people don’t realize the time and effort that goes into volunteering (e.g. putting events and fundraisers together). Only through volunteering with an organization, can you appreciate the effect that volunteers have. Many organizations only have a small number of staff members due to budget restrictions, and support from volunteers like you is essential to their success.


Charity Highlights | Volunteer MBC

Welcome to our charity and non-profit highlight. We shine the spotlight on a different charities and non-profits who, in our humble opinion, deserve some extra recognition for the work that they do.

This week we will be highlighting Volunteer MBC, a volunteer centre serving the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, and the Town of Caledon.

Volunteer MBC logo

It can be difficult to locate all of the volunteer opportunities in your community. Thankfully, there are organizations like Volunteer MBC who aims to promote and support volunteerism in an effort to engage and connect volunteers in the community.

All of Volunteer MBC’s volunteer opportunities can be found on their website, which utilizes three methods for locating meaningful volunteer opportunities. The first is a self-directed search, which allows users to look for roles based on their areas of interest in the On-line Volunteer Referral System. You may also arrange an in-person consultation in order to discuss your interests, expertise, and passions in a one-on-one setting, or you can use the email consultation service, which matches you with a volunteer opportunity based on information obtained on their Volunteer Opportunity Request Form.

Volunteer MBC is a training member organization of PREB-Ontario, a provincial volunteer recognition program based on Employment and Social Development Canada’s National Occupational Classification. They are also active members of the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN), which “provides a provincial network and voice to strengthen the individual and collective ability of Volunteer Centres in Ontario.”

As outlined on their website, Volunteer MBC’s values and focus strives to foster a community culture of respect, understanding, inclusiveness, and empowerment to all volunteers. Their goal is to link volunteers to organizations and opportunities they will succeed in, as well as to be a strong advocate for volunteerism in the community.

Volunteer MBC opened their doors in September 2008 with their main branch located in Mississauga and a satellite location in Bolton. Members gain access to benefits such as the ability to submit volunteer positions to the centre’s On-line Volunteer Referral System, networking opportunities with volunteers, organizations, and community partners, access to a members-only Good Practice Bank with sample policies and procedures, and more. Additionally, the Region of Peel has provided a grant for 40 Volunteer MBC member organizations to use Charity Republic’s volunteer management software. This offer ends in August 2016.

Do you know of an organization that deserves to be featured on our blog? Let us know!

Charity Highlights | Habitat for Humanity

Welcome to our weekly charity and non-profit highlight. Each week we will be shining the spotlight on a different charity, or non-profit, who, in our humble opinion, deserves some extra recognition for the work that they do.

This week we will be giving tribute to Habitat for Humanity.

Charity Republic - Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 in Americus, Georgia by Millard and Linda Fuller. Their goal was to build safe and affordable homes for those in need at no profit, and with interest-free loans. Building costs are financed by a revolving fund called “The Fund for Humanity.” New homes are built using the money earned through fundraising, as well as no interest loans provided by supporters, and new homeowners’ house payments.

Local affiliates, Prince Edward-Hastings, have built 14 homes, and helped 15 families through “sweat equity,” where homeowners contribute hundreds of hours to the construction of their homes, and are responsible for repaying long-term, no-interest mortgages thereafter.

Affiliates also aid in the running of ReStores, which resell quality new and used building materials. Shopping at ReStore is an environmentally conscious decision, as the materials are kept out of landfills, and funds generated through the sale of the materials are used for Habitat homebuilding projects.

Habitat for Humanity has also aided in the rebuilding of Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake, and they run an Aboriginal Housing Program, which aims to provide the Habitat homeownership model in reserves and settlements (where it is estimated that 49% of existing housing requires repair).

Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity International has contributed to the construction or improvement of more than 600,000 houses worldwide, and served more than three million people. Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada has served over 2,700 families, and has improved the shelter conditions for one million people.

Click here to find information on your nearest affiliate office for information on how to volunteer, locate the nearest Habitat build, or find out how else you can help in the community.

Click here to locate the ReStore nearest you for information on how to donate items, shop for material, or volunteer your time.

Do you know of an organization that deserves some extra recognition? Let us know!

5 Unique Ways to Appreciate Volunteers (Infogaphic)


Recognition and rewards can motivate and increase self-esteem for volunteers who may seek to be recognized in a meaningful way.

Before recognizing the efforts of volunteers, it is important to understand why they are volunteering for your organization. Research from Statistics Canada shows the various reasons Canadians volunteer:

  • 93% volunteer to make a contribution to their community
  • 78% volunteer to use their skills and experience
  • 59% are personally affected by the cause
  • 48% use volunteering to network or meet new people
  • 46% will volunteer because of their friends
  • 22% use their volunteer experience to improve job opportunities

Here are 5 simple ways to recognize and show appreciation for your volunteers in a meaningful way:

  1. Recognize Unique Qualities

    After a conversation, write down unique things about your volunteers that you can use to appreciate them later. This will help you ensure they are being recognized in a personal way.

  2. Arrange a Volunteer Meet & Mingle Session

    Whether it is a short 15 minute mingle session before an event or meeting at the head office, it is always a great idea to hold a meet and greet with volunteers. This gives you the opportunity to get to know your volunteers and for them to meet new people.

  3.  Share a Hand Written Heart-Felt Note

    Writing a quick email to thank your volunteers is always nice. But, try taking the extra time with a hand written note to make that ‘thank you’ a little more meaningful & personal.

  4. Offer a Letter of Reference

    Writing a reference letter for volunteers that are currently looking for employment can be the best way to recognize that volunteer’s effort.

  5. Make your Appreciation Timely

    It is important to appreciate volunteers in a timely manner and the recognition can be used as a source of encouragement when they volunteer again.