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The Canadian Perspective

~ September 2006 ~ Topics

Creating Unique Volunteer Opportunities

The number of people in Canada who are volunteering is on the decline, while the number of organizations seeking volunteers is increasing.

So how do you attract new volunteers to your organization?

The answer may be that current volunteer opportunities aren’t appealing to the untapped volunteer market – putting the onus on us to get creative, and think of new roles to engage people in our organizations.

To brainstorm innovative roles ask yourself and your colleagues the following questions:

  • If you had unlimited time, money and resources what would you do?
  • How could a volunteer help me in areas of my role where my weaknesses are keeping me from accomplishing all that I could?
  • What projects have I been putting off, because I don’t have the time to commit to it?

The answers to these three questions should lead you to ideas for innovative volunteer roles that will attract and appeal to a more diverse group of volunteers, while helping your organization accomplish its goals.

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Walk A Mile In A Volunteer’s Shoes

Reflecting on your own volunteer experiences can provide you with insight into creating or improving your volunteer program.

Some perspective I gained:


It always bothered me when I applied for a role and they never responded – and I will never apply for another role with them. Take the time to tell a potential volunteer you don’t have any roles open, don’t just ignore them – they will go away.

Be Realistic!

I recently volunteered for an event and listed the times I would be available to volunteer and mentioned that I worked full time. The coordinator scheduled me for every shift that I wasn’t at work for a solid week – without asking how much time I would be able to commit. Volunteers have lives too, take that into account when assigning responsibilities.

Say Thank You!

It sounds so simple, yet sometimes we over think and make more work for ourselves. The best way to recognize a volunteer is to thank them when they have completed their job – I didn’t need an event, I didn’t need an award, I didn’t need a gift. All I ever wanted and expected was a thank you.

Kelly Noiles is the Community Volunteer Coordinator for the Canadian Diabetes Association for the Nova Scotia Region in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She can be reached by phone at: (902) 453-4232 Ext 3232 or at: kelly.noiles@diabetes.ca.

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