2013: A Year of Change, Challenge and Confetti

It has been a big year for Propellus!  A name change, finding a groove in non-profit management, increased scope of programs and services, additional training offerings, and the staff has had some of our own fun along the way. 2013 has been a really fun and exciting year all around. Join us in looking back over this banner year in our organization’s history.

New Brand
The list starts off with our biggest change. On June 20, 2013, at our AGM we changed our name to Propellus. It took a lot of time and tough questions to decide to change a name with over 50 years of brand recognition, but in the end it was decided that a name change was needed to better reflect our enhanced programs and services.  The impetus behind the shift to Propellus was brand and market research. Extensive brand and market research  was done which showed there was a lot of misconceptions about Volunteer Calgary’s pre-existing services, and even more about the enhanced services.

To a room full of our members, amidst confetti cannon fire and with the help of wonderful volunteers, the Propellus re-brand was launched.

The Flood 
A list of 2013 highlights would not be complete without talking about the flood. It was moments after our AGM keynote speaker; David LaPiana gave his speech that our President and CEO, Jamie Niessen, had to tell the crowd that a local state of emergency had been declared. It wasn’t until the next day, June 21, that anyone would realize just how bad the flood was going to be.

The newly minted Propellus staff had a decision to make, to engage the public as Volunteer Calgary, or as Propellus; we quickly decided that the Volunteering in Calgary social media channels would be used to answer questions, help inform, and relay volunteer information since this was our work as a volunteer centre.

While our offices were closed, we found a space at the University of Calgary to work out of so that we could better serve our members and the public.

Because of the incredible generosity of spirit of people in Southern Alberta (and across Canada) Propellus staff was very busy trying to keep up with questions and demand for volunteer opportunities. As a connector, the role Propellus took was helping to connect people who wanted to volunteer with the volunteer positions available.

The volunteer efforts and incredible kindness shown by Albertans was so inspiring to people throughout Canada, Canada.com just named the people of Alberta the Newsmaker of the year.

“From devastation to inspiring stories of neighbourly love and then the immense reconstruction effort, our readers couldn’t get enough of the Alberta floods… For the perseverance, kindness and sheer gumption, the people of Alberta are our newsmaker of the year.

Staff Fun Times
It’s not just sector work for the Propellus team. In 2013, 6 members of the Propellus team ran in the Calgary Marathon – everyone even made it through the finish line! We also all took up lawn bowling for a day – and learned that most of us are not naturals.

Leadership Awards
We can’t have a Propellus highlight list without the 17th Annual Leadership Awards. What an amazing and inspiring night, full of incredible people that are constantly working to make our city a better place.

Our Leader of Tomorrow – Senior High winner, Cassidy Robertson got a thunderous round of applause for her idea of instituting fresh face Fridays at her school. Heart of Calgary winner Eleanor Suddaby got a standing ovation for her decades of tirelessly working to improve conditions for working women, and her thousands of volunteer hours at Heritage Park. And VIP award winner Lorne Haggarty got a standing ovation after his colourful speech (and dropping the blown glass award).

Nominations are underway for the 2014 awards. If you know an inspiring volunteer, employee group, family, manager, or animal, please nominate them! It is a great way to recognize people doing outstanding work in the sector.

Rolling out the Workshops
Propellus had three new workshops on the go in 2013. In our brand and market research we found that Fund Development was one of the top concerns among non-profit organizations. To that end, we piloted and started delivering the Basics of Fund Development; a workshop to help people who may not be trained in fund development, or are new to the role.

We started running Governance 101, a front line workshop that helps participants understand the basic functions and responsibilities of a non-profit board.

The newest workshop under the Propellus banner is How to Use Project Management for Your Non-Profit, for people who are planning, developing or executing a new project or program.

In 2013 Propellus piloted a new workshop about financial sustainability. This workshop is having the finishing touches put on it, and people should look for it to roll out in 2014.

The enhanced training offering is one of the ways we are helping to strengthen organizations, offering bursaries for our workshops also helps alleviate some of that financial burden.

All of our Workshops can be found here.

Fundraising Fiesta
Each Propellus team got actively involved in the annual United Way fundraising campaign. We did everything from have a hotdog eating competition, to selling root beer floats (in the winter), holding Family Feud in the lobby, and having a blind auction where people couldn’t see what the items they were bidding on. It was a fun and crazy time for the Propellus team, at the end of it we contributed over $1100 to the United Way campaign!

New Services to Strengthen Organizations

Our newest service is consulting, which was introduced in 2012 and has grown leaps and bounds in 2013. One of the key avenues in which we have strengthened our services to support non-profit organizations is through facilitated learning.

Facilitated Learning is our way of helping organizations explore, learn and change. We do this by having one of our expert consultants come to your organization for a day of experiential learning which takes into account the different personality types and learning styles of each participant.

Rather than lecturing to you, our consultants focus on helping you to create your own unique takeaways. Our approach draws on the collective wisdom of every participant in the room to develop learning and insights which are then translated into specific actions and goals.

Mission Funding 
For 2013, the Resource Development team at Propellus created a strategy to actively seek mission funding; which resulted in more mission funders than ever before. This translates into making Propellus services like training and consulting more affordable for our members.

2013 also saw Marlene Mulligan, our very own Director of Resource Development take on the facilitator role for the Basics of Fund Development workshop.

As we look back on 2013, we realize that it has been an incredible year of great change and learning as we work towards strengthening organizations. We thank you for your trust in working with us, and appreciate your willingness to travel with us on this new and exciting journey. We look forward with great anticipation to working with and serving you in the New Year.

Happy Holidays!

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