Color & Control:

You’ve still got it

Skills, time and a giving heart

Worried or unsure about what you have to offer as a volunteer?

The good news is that most community organisations are looking for skills that you already have. And they’re the same ones businesses are looking for in employees—transferrable skills.

So, what are the key attributes that organisations are looking for in their volunteers today?

Community organisations plan around volunteers turning up and people in our communities rely on the programs they deliver. So, being reliable is a hugely valuable quality. 

Interpersonal skills
Going in to any new environment requires you to engage with new people. Volunteering often exposes you to people from all walks of life, so having great interpersonal skills that shows you can adapt to different situations and means that you are sure to do a great job.

Ability to learn and learn quickly
The first time you volunteer, you need to learn and learn quickly what is expected of you. Sound familiar? Has your boss ever asked you to do something outside of your job description? Or remember that feeling when you start in a new workplace and everyone is talking in the industry acronyms? You have to adapt and move fast. 

Volunteering is no different and is a great way to not only use but also continue practicing these skills.

Problem solving
Unlike some other business scenarios where there’s a team of people trying to solve a problem, that’s not always the case in a community organisation. Your ability not only to problem solve your way through any challenges you face, but also to suggest new ways for that organisation to approach things, can extend your impact beyond the volunteer activity itself.

So, when you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, think about what you’ve learned in past situations and how you might apply it now. What are your strengths and skills you want to develop further?

Fun and friendly
While tasks assigned are often chock full of  “to do’s,”  volunteers are often looking to associate with likeminded individuals who are also interested in having fun and meeting new people while supporting a cause that’s near and dear to them. When you sign up to begin volunteering, you usually find approachable people who will do their best to welcome you onboard and make you feel comfortable. 

Putting your best foot forward and reciprocating will be well worth your while as this is how some wonderful new friendships are formed. 

Source: SEEK Volunteer.

Questions you might be asked…

Charities and not-for-profits are often keen to interview candidates. If you’re serious, it’s best to prepare for your meeting as you would for a job interview. Here are a few sample questions:

1) Why would you like to be a volunteer here? This simple question can yield valuable information about your motives and interests for seeking work with an organization. Try to link what you hope to gain from volunteering with the organization’s interests. For example, if you are looking to eventually be hired let them know. They might be interested in hiring from current volunteers.

2) Tell me what you’ve really enjoyed and a part that you wish had been different?

With this question, the recruiter is looking to learn more about the kind of volunteering you’ve done and get a sense of your commitments. Let them know if you’ve done work within the sector before or if volunteering with them will entail new experiences for you. They can then determine what kind of onboarding and training will be most useful. 

3) Why do you think we’ll be a match for you?
They will already have a sense of your skills and experiences based on your resume, but this is your chance to articulate the strengths and abilities you bring to this opportunity specifically. There may also be experiences that you didn’t list on your resume, but nonetheless set you up for success as a volunteer for their organization. 

4) How much time would you like to volunteer?
It’s important that the time you are able to contribute aligns with and meets the organization’s needs. Be specific. Part-time for you might mean an hour or two, but for them it could mean four to five hours. 

5) Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed by your to-do list. 
The ability to adapt to changing work demands is an important quality. They may also follow up with questions like, “What would you do differently if this situation happened again?” This gives you an opportunity to show your ability to reflect and grow from your past experiences.

Keep in mind that the recruiter might have different variations of these questions that cater to their organization’s specific needs. 

The joy of volunteering

A look at the charitable sector in Canada

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some, it offers the chance to give something back to their local community. For others, it provides an opportunity to develop new skills.

During times of uncertainty and challenges, many of us feel the need to lend a hand. In fact, volunteers are needed more than ever before when times get tough. 

Older Canadians make a significant contribution to our society through volunteering. However, various charities and media have reported that thousands of seniors across Canada who would normally be volunteering have stayed at home to protect their health. 

If volunteering is already part of your everyday life—we applaud you! For the rest of us thinking about lending a hand to others, we’re hoping the following pages will help you to find new and interesting ways to give your talents, energy and time in person or virtually.  

And know that while volunteering is ultimately about giving back to others, in the short or long-term, you’ll have the chance to develop new skills, new relationships outside of your current social circle and even new opportunities for personal growth.

Contributions that count
Most Canadians have likely engaged with a charity or non-profit at some point in their lives and many engage with them daily. Whether it’s a small community service organization, hospital, university or national charity that you’re willing to help with, it’s important to dig a little deeper and try to understand how important this sector is to both our well-being and our country’s economy.

First off, before you start giving back be sure you know a little bit about the organization and its structure. There is, for instance, a difference between a charity and a non-profit. All charities are run as non-profits but not all non-profits are charities.  

Organizations wishing to be recognized as registered charities must apply to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which will look at their purposes, determine if they meet the requirements to be granted a charitable registration and monitor them on an ongoing basis.  

It’s the law
According to CRA, all charities are officially required to:

• Engage only in allowable activities. A registered charity is allowed to carry out its charitable purposes both inside and outside Canada in only two ways: by carrying on its own charitable activities and by gifting to qualified donees. A registered charity must maintain direction and control over its activities (whether carried out by the charity or by an agent or contractor on its behalf) and must not engage in activities that directly or indirectly support or oppose a political party or candidate for public office or unrelated business activities.

• Keep adequate books and records. A registered charity must keep adequate books and records for the prescribed time period at an address in Canada that is on file with the Canada Revenue Agency.

• Issue complete and accurate donation receipts. A registered charity may only issue official receipts for donations that legally qualify as gifts. An official receipt must contain all the information specified in Section 3501 of the Income Tax Regulation.

• Meet annual spending requirements (disbursement quota). A registered charity must spend the minimum amount calculated for its disbursement quota each year on its own charitable activities, or on gifts to qualified donees (for example, other registered charities).

• File an annual T3010 information return. A registered charity must file an annual T3010 information return (together with financial statements and required attachments) no later than six months after the end of the charity’s fiscal period.

• Maintain the charity’s status as a legal entity. A registered charity that is constituted federally, provincially or territorially must meet other specific requirements (in addition to the requirements of CRA) in order to maintain its status as a legal entity. This may include annual filing and/or annual fees. A registered charity should check with the relevant authorities to verify these additional requirements.

• Inform the Charities Directorate of any changes to the charity’s mode of operation or legal structure. A registered charity should get confirmation from the Charities Directorate (the Directorate) before changing its stated objectives and/or activities to make sure they qualify as charitable. A registered charity should inform the Directorate if it changes its name, telephone number, address, contact person or governing documents (constitution, letters patent, etc.) and must obtain prior approval from the Directorate before changing its fiscal year-end.

As part of its ongoing efforts to make sure charities meet the requirements of registration, the CRA uses a variety of compliance activities. Historically, the CRA has audited approximately 800 to 900 charities per year, representing about 1 per cent of registered charities.

Many of the same guidelines apply for those running not-for-profits as well. However, the main difference is that a registered charity can issue official receipts for donations for income tax deduction purposes. Non-profits do not register with the CRA, so they are not able to issue official donation receipts for income tax purposes. Therefore, as a donor, you cannot receive any tax credits.

An integral part of our economy
The charitable and non-profit sector’s contribution is significant when looked at as a whole—greater than the GDP of the retail trade industry and close to the value of the mining, oil and gas extraction industry. The “core non-profit sector” is the common way to refer to charitable and non-profit organizations that are not hospitals and universities. Their revenues account for about 2.4 per cent of Canada’s GDP. That’s more than three times that of the motor vehicle industry. 

Many members of the public believe that charities and non-profits are funded by the government for the most part which is not the case. Each of them has various sources of income including: earned income from the sale of products and services (a whopping 45.1 per cent of the sector’s income), individual, family or corporate donations as well as grants from private foundations and the government.

Some organizations receive no funding from any government department. Hospitals, universities, and colleges are the exception to this rule. Almost 75 per cent of their funding comes from governmental sources with 72 per cent of that being from a provincial government. In number, these institutions only represent 1 per cent of the total number of organizations, but they represent around 66 per cent of the total revenues of the entire sector.

Funding sources for charities and non-profits
The Satellite Account of Non-profit Institutions and Volunteering published by Statistics Canada showed a breakdown of the core non-profit sector funding: 
• sales of goods and services account for 45.6 per cent of total income
• government funding at 20.9 per cent
• membership fees 17.1 per cent
• donations from households 11.2 per cent
• investment income 3.6 per cent

Simply essential
Charities play a very valuable role in communities from coast to coast, providing expertise and support to every aspect of our daily lives in healthcare, education, alleviation of poverty, combatting food insecurity and fighting climate change, to mention a few.

Just as importantly, charities contribute to Canada’s public policy process. Some of the finest outcomes have been achieved when charities and governments work together, such as in the drunk driving legislation and smoke-free workplaces initiatives.

Where to volunteer
There are a number of ways to find the best place to give volunteer hours and some great resources. A few of our favourites include Volunteer Canada, Charity Village, United Way and Canadian Red Cross. For a full listing see page 12. CanadaHelps is a donation and fundraising portal that provides a listing of all charities in Canada, presents their mission and program information and offers an easy way for Canadians to make donations to their favourite charity.

Did you know?
Imagine Canada’s Research Notes shows that almost half of the population aged 15 and over (12.5 million people) volunteer and engage with charities on a regular basis, contributing 2.1 billion volunteer hours which translates into 1.1 million full-time jobs. 

The Scoop

We’re here to help:

• 3/4 of Canadians informally volunteer 
• 3.4 billion hours are given annually 
• 12 per cent of volunteers account for 78 per cent of the tracked hours
• 25 per cent of volunteers give up to 132 hours each annually.

What makes for a great volunteer?

Unsure about what you have to offer? Most organizations are looking for some of the skills you already have that can be transferred from other parts of your life. Here are the top three: 
1) Reliability: you show up as promised.
2) Interpersonal skills: you connect, motivate and encourage others on the team.
3) Ability to learn quickly: you’re flexible and adapt as you build up your expertise.

All in the family

Getting behind a cause together has been a popular way for immediate and extended families to socialize while giving back. Family volunteering provides an opportunity to feel warm and fuzzy as a team, and it also puts a significant and strong push behind an event or cause the family feels passionate about.

Making a difference!

Annually, about 17 billion hours are contributed by almost 13 million Canadians on a formal basis to charities, not-for-profits and community organizations.

Forget the banquets

Most people prefer to work directly with the people who benefit from their help and say that they don’t want banquets, recognition awards or fancy certificates. Instead, they’d like to be thanked and recognized in private and personal ways.

Informal vs formal 

Directly helping people outside the household or improving the community without an organization behind your efforts is considered “informal” volunteering. On the other hand, when activities are done without pay on behalf of a group or organization that is leading the effort, volunteering is considered “formal.”

What kind of volunteer are you?

Groupie: You thrive on the camaraderie of a group and like to have fun while you’re getting results.
Juggler: You’re a dynamo who enjoys giving your time to a variety of organizations.
Cameo: You have an unpredictable lifestyle so you can’t do regular or routine tasks but you’ll make an appearance when it counts. 
Rookie: You’re cautious but you’ve started to think it’s time to make a difference and start giving back.Roving: You have a specific skill set that you’d like to offer to more than one organization.
Type A: You’re a multi-tasking leader who says “yes”often and means it.

High retention

Skills-based matching is the key to recruiting and keeping baby boomers with professional or management experience committed to the cause.

Making a difference in minutes

“Micro-volunteering” generally refers to easy, no-commitment, cost-free actions that take less than 30 minutes to complete. There is usually little or no formal agreement needed before a volunteer can get started, and no expectation that the volunteer will return. Micro-volunteering is a way to involve those who can’t afford or aren’t able to commit to something longer term.

Employer-supported volunteering (ESV)

ESV has opened up opportunities for employees to volunteer, with support or encouragement from their employers. The levels of support may differ from workplace to workplace, and employers can provide support by allowing time off for volunteering or providing in-kind support to community causes. Building pre-retirement awareness around volunteering and incorporating volunteerism into retirement planning seminars can help introduce the concept of volunteering as a fulfilling future opportunity.

Did you know?

Fundraising is the #1 activity that volunteers were engaged in, with almost half saying they helped raise money for their cause.


You’re invited…To reimagine your future

Much has been said about the impact of COVID-19 on older adults. Many have struggled with loneliness due to isolation from family, friends and colleagues, as well as financial challenges due to lost or reduced employment, not to mention changes in personal health and well-being. Things can be tough, especially if your circumstances have changed or if you’re new to Canada. 

A fresh start 
If your senior years aren’t turning out quite as you envisioned, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your skills, experience and interests and “parlay” them into a world of surprising new opportunities. Perhaps it’s even time to think about giving back and learning about the many ways you can contribute to your community.

To support you in this venture, The Canadian Abilities Foundation is pleased to introduce Parlay, a new education program designed to encourage, assist and connect you in your search for new horizons. 

A complimentary program 
Our specialized digital magazines, in concert with our existing publications and programs, will provide you with curated content, advice and plenty of ideas to help you try new things, experiment and come up with a refreshing new vision and action plan. And our video interviews will share highlights and wise counsel from energetic experts and older adults with real world experience in volunteering and a variety of other topics. 

With appreciation 
A special thanks to all of our authors and interviewees for their personal contributions and to our Patron’s Council Chair, Joel Dembe, for working on the video collection with us. 

Caroline Tapp-McDougall
Editor in Chief

What you need to know if you plan to keep working into retirement

Some people may work into their 70s because they want to or because they are not prepared financially for retirement. These days, more than ever, there are roles for seniors to work well past the normal retirement age.

The concept of retirement is a relatively new one that is credited to German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. In 1889, at a time when youth unemployment was high, he decided that “those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state.” He introduced an old-age pension program that paid German seniors to leave the workforce.

The life expectancy in Germany at the time was only 70 years of age, so German retirement tended to be short-lived. According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian today retires at age 64.3. Public sector employees retire at age 62.6 on average and self-employed workers retire 4.5 years later at age 67.1. There is a 50 per cent probability that a 65-year-old woman will live until age 91, and that 65-year-old-men will live to age 89. Typical Canadian retirees should therefore plan for a retirement of more than 30 years, much longer than their late-19th-century German counterparts.

Regardless of why someone may want to continue working after retirement, there are different ways to do it, and financial and lifestyle implications to consider.

Transition to part-time
I have worked with thousands of clients to plan their retirement and often share the same advice about how to ease into it. If you can do a phased retirement, by transitioning to part-time, it can be a great option to dip your toes slowly into the retirement pool.

Not every employer will allow an employee to work part-time, but if you are able to retire and are prepared financially, what have you got to lose by asking? Inquiring is not just cause for termination. So, in the unlikely event that you are subsequently fired, you would have statutory and common-law entitlements to compensation. If you are almost financially independent and able to retire anyway, you may come out ahead financially.

Consulting work
In the early stages of retirement, some semi-retired professionals will engage in consulting work. This, too, is an option to pitch to your current employer that is like working part-time but has other benefits.

A consultant has more flexibility than an employee, setting their own hours and rate, and can work for other companies as well. Retired employees must be careful about becoming self-employed but continuing to act like employees. If the relationship between an employer and former employee is too similar to employment, the Canada Revenue Agency may consider the individual to still be employed. This can cause the employee to have some self- employed tax deductions denied or the employer to be responsible for certain payroll taxes.

Most consultants operate as sole proprietors reporting their income and expenses on their personal tax return. If they do not use a business name that differs from their legal name, they will not need to register their name with the provincial government. Depending on the type of services provided, income level, and location, a business may have an obligation for federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), provincial Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) or Provincial Sales Tax (PST).

Your own firm
Some consultants opt to incorporate companies. There are up-front legal fees and ongoing legal and accounting fees for a corporation, and it may not be worth it, especially for modest amounts of income. This is similar to phased retirement but has other benefits. Income splitting is also a benefit of incorporation for someone aged 65 or older who may be able to pay dividends to a lower-income spouse who owns shares of the corporation, thereby minimizing family tax.

New job
It may be easiest to work part-time for your current company or transition to consulting in the same industry but sometimes a new job is a better option. What did you enjoy doing when you were younger, maybe even as a child? There may be some clues here as to what you should consider in retirement.

I am surprised how few people in big cities like Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal consider early retirement by downsizing their valuable homes and moving to a lower-cost Canadian city or another country. Many couples or single people with no children or those who had children at a young age could semi-retire several years earlier and continue to work in a job and in a place that may bring them more satisfaction.

Places like Portugal, Panama and Costa Rica—the top three rated countries in International Living’s 2020 Annual Global Retirement Index—may be within reach for early retirees for $2,500 to $4,000 per month including rent. By selling or renting out their homes, early retiree could move abroad temporarily or permanently and supplement
their savings or rental income with part-time or remote work. The pandemic may accelerate this opportunity for many people whose roles may become permanent work-from-home positions.

Consider giving back
Volunteering is a great way to continue to work in retirement. You can be compensated in different ways for work, and volunteer work can sometimes be more rewarding than any paid position.

Someone who wants to create a job or consulting opportunity for themselves could consider volunteering or working for a discounted wage with an individual or business who they would like to help. This might include a young person or company in their field who might not otherwise be able to pay their market rate. The point is there are reasons to work beyond making money, especially if you are financially independent and do not need it.

Seniors with children or grandchildren may find great joy helping them with tasks, errands or child care. There are things a retired parent can do to help their kids that money cannot buy.

Some of the happiest and healthiest retirees I have met are still quite busy in retirement, whether they are in their 50s or 80s. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned during my own career, and something I imagine as I envision my own retirement.

Believe me, there are days I long for the freedom to golf all day or lie on a beach sipping cocktails, neither of which are things I do enough of at this busy point in my personal and professional life. But the thought of growing bored of golf or the beach or other things that you work hard all your life to enjoy is something that leads me to believe I will continue to work after I retire, even if it is more for pleasure than for money. 

Jason Heath is a fee-only, advice-only Certified Financial Planner (CFP) at Objective Financial Partners Inc. in Ontario.

Great expectations:

On the job at 55+

Whether it’s topping up pension income, pursuing a life-long interest or to paying daily bills, many Canadians continue to want to stay on the payroll. 

Full-time, part-time or on a flexible basis, one in four of us is staying on the job after age 55. You can find us in small and large businesses, every level of government, in the non-profit sector, or as consultants, entrepreneurs and artists. 

As this trend of staying on past retirement age continues, expect change in the way companies hire and run their workplaces. There will be exciting new opportunities and, perhaps, the chance to learn different skills along the way.

It’s simply untrue that hiring or re-hiring older workers is not good for business. Known for their loyalty, reliability, experience, they have less turnover, fewer accidents and lower absenteeism rates than their younger counterparts. 

And worry not, an older adult’s potentially slower performance at work will usually be balanced out by their quality of work and accurate decision-making in high-stress situations.

A well run, well-designed, accessible workplace is better for everyone, but know that there are some things to consider that will make a healthy difference for older workers. Beyond repetitive strain injuries, which arise over time, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety shares this workplace guidance:
• Reach and flexibility tend to decline with age, as does functional breathing capacity (up to 40 per cent between 30–65 yrs). This could affect jobs requiring extended physical labour or work in hot or cold conditions.
• Posture and balance could be hard to maintain for muscular effort, precise adjustments, work done on angles or slippery/unstable surfaces.
• Recovery time could be impacted by lack of sleep for aging shift or night workers. 
• Safety and productivity could be affected by noise, as well as hearing loss and vision changes. 
• Cognitive changes, such as short-term memory loss, could mean that certain tasks and activities could take longer. 

Older workers use their expertise and experience to overcome some of the challenges related to aging and make some of the best employees you’ll find. 

The Scoop

4 reasons not to retire

When asked, older adults said they:
1) Find fulfillment in an organization’s work.
2) Want to improve their retirement finances.
3) Enjoy supporting worthy causes.
4) Stay engaged and mentally sharp.

Tradition vs reality

Age 65 has generally been considered the age for full retirement. When the Canada Pension Plan was established in 1965, men were expected to live to 69 and women to 75. With life expectancy rising to 80 years for men and 84 for women, and many people living well past that, the days of retiring at 55, or even 65, may be long gone for many Canadians. 

Use it or lose it

Evidence shows a strong correllation between age at retirement and a person’s risk of developing dementia. Results indicate the benefits of staying at work longer and maintaining high levels of cognitive and social stimulation. In fact, among healthy retirees, a one-year older age at retirement was associated with an 11 per cent lower risk of all-cause mortality independent of their sociodemographic, lifestyle and health situation. 

Perceptions of older workers

• Bring more knowledge, wisdom and life experience
• Are more responsible, reliable and dependable
• Are a valuable resource for training and mentoring
• Have higher healthcare costs
• Command higher wages and salaries
• Are less open to learning and new ideas

Don’t lose touch

Strong social connections are key to physical and mental well-being. Conversely, the effects of prolonged isolation are said to be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

What are reskilling and upskilling?

Changing industries is called “reskilling.” A culture of upskilling, on the other hand, teaches employees additional or enhanced skills to bridge a company’s talent gap. “Upskilling” is a strategy that helps advance an employee’s career path and helps employers keep valued employees during changing times.

Never stop learning

In Japan, the Labour Act supports older adults working until age 70. It urges employers to raise mandatory retirement age to 70 or, in some cases, abolish retirement all together. Masako Wakamiya of Japan shows that age has nothing to do with learning. She bought her first computer at age 58, then invented Excel art, using Microsoft Excel as a design tool for clothes and decorative round fans. At age 81, she became the world’s oldest app developer when she created “hinadan,” a game for older users. 

Stumped for job ideas?

Based on your interests, here are some suggestions for roles to consider:

If you want to stay working in a similar field:
• Consultant/researcher
• Writer/editor/subject matter expert
• Tutor/lecturer/teacher/teacher’s assistant
• Project manager/planner 

If you still want social contact:
• ESL or FSL teacher
• Retail service 
• Tour guide 
• Greeter or usher 
• Casino worker
• Uber driver or courier
• Caterer
• Older model

If you want to help others:
• Tutor or childcare worker
• Home health aide
• Library assistant

If you want less physically challenging work:
• Virtual admin assistant
• Tax preparer or auditor
• Online seller 
• House or pet sitter

If you want to work to stay active:
• Pet walker or trainer
• Handyperson or painter
• Coach or referee
• Security guard or usher
• Gardener or handyperson

If you have a hobby or passion:
• Musician, singer or teacher
• Creative writer or memoirist
• Blogger or writer
• Artist/craftsperson

Did you know?

Homemakers are considered excellent at organizing  and managing daily tasks. Therefore, event planners, personal shoppers or home health aides are ideal professions or experienced homemakers to consider.

You’re invited…to reimagine your future

Much has been said about the impact of COVID-19 on older adults. Many have struggled with loneliness due to isolation from family, friends and colleagues, as well as financial challenges due to lost or reduced employment, not to mention changes in personal health and well-being. Things can be tough, especially if your circumstances have changed or if you’re new to Canada. 

A fresh start 
If your senior years aren’t turning out quite as you envisioned, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your skills, experience and interests and “parlay” them into a world of surprising new opportunities. Perhaps it’s even time to think about giving back and learning about the many ways you can contribute to your community.

To support you in this venture, The Canadian Abilities Foundation is pleased to introduce Parlay, a new education program designed to encourage, assist and connect you in your search for new horizons. 

A complimentary program 
Our specialized digital magazines, in concert with our existing publications and programs, will provide you with curated content, advice and plenty of ideas to help you try new things, experiment and come up with a refreshing new vision and action plan. And our video interviews will share highlights and wise counsel from energetic experts and older adults with real-world experience. 

With appreciation 
A special thanks to all of our authors and interviewees for their personal contributions and to our Patron’s Council Chair, Joel Dembe, for working on the video collection with us.

Caroline Tapp-McDougall
Editor in Chief


Meaningful Travel Tips and Tales First Time Volunteers

By GoAbroad and GVI
Volunteering abroad for the first time can seem overwhelming and no one knows that better than GoAbroad and GVI, who put their heads together to come up with a comprehensive resource for first time volunteers. The main point: It’s not “voluntourism.” It’s work, hard work so you must be ready to put in a little elbow grease and prepare for some growing pains. Here you’ll also find all the best info on how and when to apply, the best possible program options for you, scholarships and grants, and many other things you’ll need to know.

The Volunteering Lens of COVID-19: Data Highlights

By Statistics Canada and Volunteer Canada
This report presents select findings from a recent Volunteer Survey by Ipsos. It gathered data on the inspiration and source of volunteer opportunity, ability to volunteer during COVID-19, the experience of current volunteers during COVID-19, and the experience of those who could not volunteer or were unsuccessful in their attempts. It also looks at post-covid intentions.  •

Doing Good Better

By William MacAskill
While a researcher at Oxford, William MacAskill devoted his study to finding out how we can really make a difference. He found that we often decide how to help based on assumptions and emotions rather than facts which often leads to ineffective outcomes. As an antidote, MacAskill developed “effective altruism”—a practical, data driven approach that uses evidence and careful reasoning to select opportunities.

Little Princes

By Conor Grennan
This is the epic story of Conor Grennan’s battle to save the lost children of Nepal and how he found himself in the process. Part Three Cups of Tea, part Into Thin Air, Grennan’s remarkable memoir is at once gripping and inspirational, and it carries us deep into an exotic world that most readers know little about.
William Morrow Paperbacks

Hoping to Help

By Judith Lasker
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people travel from wealthier to poorer countries to participate in short-term volunteer programs focused on health services. Churches, universities, non-profit service organizations, profit-making “voluntourism” companies, hospitals, and large corporations all sponsor brief missions. Hoping to Help is the first book to offer a comprehensive assessment of global health volunteering, based on research into how it currently operates, its benefits and drawbacks, and how roles might be organized to contribute most effectively.
ILR Press

Building a Kindness Army

By Katie Dahlheim
The Lowcountry Blessing Box Project is a network of more than 200 anonymous food donation sites with the motto “Leave what you can, take what you need.” This is the story of the unexpected movement it created. More importantly, Katie Dahlheim presents a step-by-step blueprint for anyone who wants to establish a successful network of free pantries.

Travel with purpose 

By Jeff Blumenfeld
People often wonder how they can explore the world and help the less fortunate. 

That’s where voluntourism comes in—a mix of both travel and volunteering. Is it hard work building wells and schoolhouses or excavating dinosaur bones? Yes, it is. But voluntourism here doesn’t take a particular skill, just plenty of sweat, the desire to see the world and leave it a better place. These are stories of inspiration from everyday people, all of whom have definite opinions about the best way to approach your first volunteer vacation.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

In the news

Meeting your “giving” needs

Finding a volunteer placement requires taking some time to reflect on your passions, interests, and experiences to determine what sort of volunteer work aligns with who you are. Identify your goals and aspirations prior to starting your search and remember, it is important that these will change over time as your interests change.

The following questions can aid the reflection process, which will help you identify what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.
• What are my interests?
• What type of position would I want?
• What do I most want to learn from the experience?
• What skills am I looking to develop?
• What type of work environment do I prefer?
• Do I want to connect with a professional in a specific field?
• How much time per week would I be able to devote to the volunteer position?
• What type of work environment do I prefer?
• Is this a one-time or short-term or ongoing project?

Once you understand your interests and goals, you can move on to networking to find the right position. 


Change the world in a few clicks?

What organizations need done and what volunteers want to do are not always the same. But rather than wringing hands and recalling the good old days when volunteers showed up every Tuesday, non-profits are looking for new ways to attract the help they need.

Advances in technology, shifting demographics and increased resource pressures mean many groups can use micro-volunteering, a type of volunteering that is convenient, bite sized and requires little to no training or ongoing commitment. Many micro-volunteers also find it rewarding to see the immediate, tangible impact of their work.

One of the earliest social/digital micro-volunteering projects involved volunteers tagging and matching photos of missing people with media images in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. It involved short chunks of time and made a meaningful difference.

While the shiny aspect of micro-volunteerism is the way social media and digital expertise can be leveraged for social good, the idea that short-term volunteers can make a tremendous difference is not a new one.


Volunteerism on your resume 

Simply put, including volunteer work on your resume can help employers learn about your interests and experience—especially if you have limited professional experience. You can include volunteer experience in your professional experience section, skill section or in a separate volunteer section. Add keywords from the job description that connects your volunteer experience back to the role.

The goal of writing a resume is to quickly show employers you are a great fit for the job. Adding information like your transferrable skills, professional experience and relevant education can help convey why the employer should advance you in the hiring process. Another option you might consider is adding a section in your resume to highlight your volunteer experiences. While you can format this section the same as your professional work experience section, you can also write a shortened version that takes up less space.

Be sure to give context when there are gaps in your resume due to leaving the workforce for an extended period of time. Seeing your volunteer work highlighted may also be beneficial for anyone applying to work in.