As a member of the Vancouver community, our team members enjoy taking time to connect with other locals to see what’s happening around town. As of late, one of our current community related endeavours has been to be more in touch with local non profit organizations to find out what they are currently doing and also, where they are going as we continue to grow our own corporate social responsibility efforts. We find that it’s important to be aware of the great work that is happening around us and in some cases, become an ongoing fan and supporter in certain causes like our recent post on our involvement with the Union Gospel Mission.
Last month, one of the interesting and moving tweetups called EastVanLove (@EastVanLove), hosted by at the Hood (@thehood604), was exactly related to those specific topics: non profit organizations and volunteerism. Each organization spoke about their involvement in the East side of Vancouver, their community building, the positive impact that they strive for, and how the community can get involved. The event itself included some time for networking, a panel that shared highlights about their organizations in a quick five-minute presentations and some time for questions and answers. The diverse line up included the following 6 speakers and to make things easier to connect with them, I added their sites and Twitter handles.
- Peter Wrinch (@pwrinch) from Pivot: http://www.pivotlegal.org/ / @pivotlegal
- Caroline MacGillivray from Beauty Night Society: http://beautynight.org/ / @beautynight
- Dave MacDonald (@davemacdonald) from Reach Multicultural Family Centre: http://www.reachcentre.bc.ca/ / @REACHCHC
- Diane Roberts from urban ink productions: http://urbanink.ca/ / @urbaninkVan
- Harsha Walia (@HarshaWalia) from DTES Women’s Centre: http://dewc.ca/
- Fen Hsiao from Potluck Café: http://potluckcatering.com/ @potluckcafe
Today over lunch, I had the honour and privilege to catch up with Dave MacDonald, from Reach Multicultural Family Centre, to revisit this event and talk in more depth about volunteerism and their current projects. One of his interesting points on volunteerism is that, in his opinion, there are two types of volunteers: 1) those who want to offer their skills or expand their current skills and 2) those who want to do good deeds for the community putting aside the emphasis of any particular skills.
For example, an accountant could decide to help out people by providing free tax help while another volunteer could decide to volunteer for a different project that requires little experience or very little expert skills. Through our conversation, he shared a recent example where a potential volunteer wanted to help out his organization with their own values in mind, however, the skill potentially offered wasn’t what his organization needed at the time. Therefore, what the volunteer could offer and what the organization needed, wasn’t the right fit in the end.
As a prospective volunteer, you must approach any non profit organizations like any other interviews where you might want to do a bit of research ahead of time to find out if your own skills would be something that the organization at hand needs in the first place. You must be able to fill a need and ideally, your own ideas and values will match with theirs.
As a non profit organization, it’s important to understand what current needs are needed, so that when a volunteer comes knocking on your door, you must be ready to communicate what kind of support could be used. From Dave’s point of view, he’s seen over the years that it is sometimes difficult for non profit organizations to turn down volunteers.
The conclusion is that when it comes to volunteering, there needs to be a clear match between what the volunteer can offer and what the non profit organization needs. There are so many great organizations around the Vancouver area and the people in it like Dave make it that much more exciting and vibrant to be a part of our community.
In the future, I’ll continue sharing our own support and involvement with our community and also, how some of our own customers take great pride in doing the same. If you know of any great other non profit organizations whom we should talk to, please leave us a comment below.
You can also read more thoughts on this past event via the Vancouver Observer’s article by Kelly Marion, Stephanie' Chua’s Storify story and/or the picture stream and keep up with the organizers including Ajay Masala Puri (@masalapuri), Kimberley Ong (@kimieong) and Stephanie Chua (@steph_chua) to find out about their upcoming events.
Until then, whether you’re an individual or an organization, you should consider taking some time to give back as much as possible.Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru