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Volunteer Centre Innovation - Screening & Centralization

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Volunteer Centre Innovation - Screening & Centralization

Volunteer Centres perform many functions within a community. With respect to how Centres interact with volunteers, while some do volunteer advising, there are no others in North America that we are aware of that are taking a step into the realm of doing intake and screening for and on behalf of the nonprofit organizations it serves. This is revolutionary. Volunteer Lethbridge has developed a model called the Community Volunteer Management Model (CVMM) that significantly enhances the success of volunteer recruitment and placement.

Creating a Community Volunteer Pool

Often, intake and screening volunteers involves sending them down a long, lazy river of paperwork. This costs the non-profit sector time, money, and effort. But what if there was a "pool" of pre-screened and ready-to-activate community volunteers that organizations could access?

Volunteer Lethbridge has created that pool by providing the resources, time and skills to assist volunteers through the lazy river journey - so they can land in the pool, ready to be pulled out of the water and into a position.

  1. Outreach - The first splash in the river is awareness and promotion. We connect with the volunteers through extensive and ongoing outreach activities.
  2. Application - Once interested, a volunteer completes an application with us, the Volunteer Centre, instead of through an individual nonprofit organization. For the volunteer, this is especially helpful if they are not yet sure where they want to volunteer
  3. Advise - Next, volunteers meet with an advisor. Together, they review the applicant’s interest, goals, and talents to decide which opportunities are best suited for them. Applicants also learn that Volunteer Lethbridge is a resource for all things related to volunteering.
  4. Collect Information - Depending on the level of responsibility the applicant desires in a volunteer position, Volunteer Lethbridge collects and stores Police Information Checks and two references for volunteers and organizations in Better Impact. This process decreases duplication for volunteers that are considering more than one volunteer opportunity.
  5. Referral - Once all the documents are collected, we send a referral to the organization(s) of the volunteer’s choice. For the community nonprofit organizations, their input time to source and screen a potential new volunteer is eliminated. The volunteer is ready to onboard and train by the time they hit the ‘diving board’.
  6. Follow up - our work continues after the referral. We maintain contact with our volunteers through regular newsletters, events, a mobile app, and general volunteer support. We also support nonprofit organizations with their volunteer management needs.

Benefits are:

  • Volunteers are ready for onboarding by the time they reach the nonprofit organization. It takes between 3-6 hours to effectively attract and screen ONE volunteer - this is a significant saving in human resource management time.
  • Volunteers only go through the intake and screening process once, then can be placed in multiple organizations.
  • Decreased liability for organizations employing volunteers as screening is done uniformly by Volunteer Lethbridge.
  • Centralization allows for localized data collection. Data at a volunteer centre’s fingertips is unheard of. No longer do we have to wait for already out-of-date national data that we extract from to get an idea of engagement trends.

In 2023, VL referred 1000 volunteers, up from 650 the year before (which was the inaugural full year of this model). In 2023, VL referred volunteers to 58 of its 74 member organizations (some do not require volunteers).

Volunteer Lethbridge has received funding to determine how to share this model with other communities. It is difficult to achieve innovation in volunteer management, but we are swimming in the right direction. In a time of tremendous pressure on the nonprofit voluntary sector, we have no choice but to find new ways to engage volunteers, to make it easy as possible for volunteers to get into their roles, and as easy as possible for receiving organizations to incorporate them in the wonderful work they are doing.

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