Doug’s Open Letter to Community

 

IMG_3264Six (well, ok, eight) months in – a reflection and a look forward.

I was asked the other day about what’s on for the next 12 months at Propellus. I thought that since I’ve only had coffee with 179 of you this year, the rest of you might be wondering what’s in our heads.

Let’s frame this up before jumping into it. So, a Volunteer Centre has four pillars. In short, they are Promote, Connect, Strengthen and Lead. You can read all about that here.

When we look back over the last few years, we’ve been very focused on the Strengthen pillar. You know this about us.  It’s allowed us to develop some really great stuff to help organizations get stronger. I’m really proud of how Propellus has focused on evaluations and assessment.

When we brought on the role of Evaluations Specialist, in addition to strengthening our own measurement, it led us to initiate an Evaluations Learning Community, which offers peer learning to our members. This year the Learning Community advisory council worked together to plan an evaluations conference. We are so pleased to be offering conference this fall where we host Michael Quinn Patton!

We’ve listened to you. So our assessment tool, which helps you get a quick snapshot into learning needs of your organization, has been up and running for almost a year. Also we’ve heard many of you describe yourselves as ‘the jack of all trades, master of none’ who needs quick access to tools you can use in your day to day job. We launched our resource bank earlier this year to provide you access to those tools!

Again, we want to go for coffee with you . . . Lori and Andrea would absolutely LOVE to hang out with you and review your assessment/point you to resources/connect you to opportunities for further learning!

As I’ve met with many of you this year I’ve heard the confusion and frustration you feel about this question, “where is the Volunteer Centre of Calgary?”

We’ve heard you. While we’ve continued to promote the volunteer opportunities on our database and host conversations, even a learning community for volunteer engagement, that is not enough.  After all, there are over 117 million hours spent volunteering in this amazing community of ours.  I agree, we can do more to support you!

So what does that mean? We haven’t got it figured out yet, but here are the steps we are taking:

  • We have expanded our volunteer team to include Tyler, Chandni, Shreya, and Manisha.
  • You can connect with Jeff as his role is changing and he is learning from the community what promoting volunteerism means.
  • We are exploring some fantastic opportunities to partner with organizations like MRU, Volunteer Alberta, Ignitech and more. Let Janet and Kelsey know who else we need to be meeting with. We’re listening!
  • Of course I’m still coming out for as many coffees (actually, it’s tea) and events with as many of you as possible because I love hearing your stories! Be sure to invite me to the places I don’t know about yet.

I hope you can see that we want to include you in shaping the future of this community organization.  What does the next twelve months look like for Propellus? Listening, acting on your advice and finding fantastic partners, so together we can continue to create a thriving engaged Calgary for each and every person!

Doug

We Are One

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Written by: Jennifer Sanford*, Propellus Consultant

Over the last few days, we have watched the wildfires in Fort McMurray gain international attention. The numbers are staggering: more than 80,000 people were evacuated, 1,600 homes and business have been destroyed, more than 50 million dollars in aid has been received by the Red Cross. And the true cost of this environmental event will take years to fully materialize. Continue reading

Big News: Crowdfunding Pilot Launched

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A key barrier in creating strong non-profit organizations is access to donor dollars to improve the skill level and infrastructure in an organization. This collaboration between our founding sponsor (The Margaret and Andrew Stephens Family Foundation), our members , and Propellus aims to address this challenge through crowdfunding. Continue reading

Q & A: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Organization Assessment Tool

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A conversation between Kelsey Merkeley, OAT Project Lead and Sarah G. Schmidt, Design & Development

Sarah: We’ve launched the tool and I was hoping you could tell me more about this project.

Kelsey: Sure, the Organization Assessment Tool (OAT) is an interactive tool that we developed for our members. It has two parts: Part 1 begins with the Organization Assessment Tool Questionnaire (OATQ), where members complete an 18-question self-assessment on the structure of their organization and the delivery of their organization’s programs. Part 2 begins after the member has completed their OATQ self-analysis. Continue reading

See our Guest Blog Posted on Imagine Canada: Succession Planning Made Easy

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Jamie Niessen, our former CEO, recently wrote about our CEO transition for Imagine Canada’s blog. Check out the post here. For more details on our transition, check out this post from the fall.

If you’re thinking about earning Imagine Canada’s charity and nonprofit accreditation check out their Standards Program for all the ins and outs. Good luck.

Common Fundraising Pitfalls

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Written By: Marlene Mulligan, formerly Design & Development

Most every organization and every cause feels they need more funding. Some may not be too urgent, maybe in a place where they could do more with more and some realities may be quite urgent and in a place of barley being able to keep up with demand and keep the lights on. Whatever your situation, if you are facing fundraising challenges, its possible your organization may have succumbed to some of these common pitfalls we see among our 500+ members. Continue reading

Lessons from a Near-Fail Program Design

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Written By: Andrea N. Young, Member Services, Evaluations Specialist


A few years ago, I set off for Africa to spend 6 months volunteering in a couple of the poorest countries in the world. My first stop was Lomé, the capital city of Togo (a tiny country next to Ghana in West Africa). I’d found a local NGO online that accepted me as a volunteer, and when I arrived they asked me to design, teach, and evaluate a short health curriculum at a couple of the nearby high schools. Continue reading