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Canada's new approaches to volunteer recruitment
02 November 2004

Ontario: The Self Help Resource Centre (SHRC) has developed a new approach to help charitable organizations increase their ability to recruit and engage volunteers, by reaching out to new Canadians and helping them overcome barriers to volunteering.

Presenting at the Making Gains conference on October 4, 2004, Roya Rabbani, Executive Director of SHRC, remarked on the current challenges facing charitable organizations in finding volunteers. She pointed to the increasing number of new Canadians in Ontario and spoke of the benefits and challenges of engaging new Canadians in volunteering.

Her presentation was based on the findings of two recent projects that SHRC has sponsored. "Diversify the Source, Enhance the Force" aimed to promote volunteerism among new Canadians and was a partnership with settlement, health, and other community-based organizations in Toronto and across Ontario. The second project, "Mutually Ours: Building Wholesome Communities" is promoting mutual aid or self-help groups among members of two neighbourhoods in Toronto.

While a quarter of Ontarians are new immigrants or refugees, Rabbani said, they are twice as likely not to volunteer as other Canadians. New Canadians face barriers to volunteer work, including difficulty in finding a place to volunteer, lack of training and support, language barriers, lack of familiarity with volunteering, and stereotyping. Organizations also face barriers in recruiting

volunteers, such as lack of funding and resources and lack of familiarity with strategies to recruit and train new Canadians.

Organizations that overcome these barriers gain access to a market of available volunteers, while volunteers gain skills and experience that help them enter the paid workforce.

The "empowering approach" that SHRC has developed for organizations to recruit new Canadians to volunteer includes being open to new ideas and changes, building capacity among organizations, and being done on a personal level and accomplished through group work. The

framework for participation includes organizations questioning who, how and where they recruit and train volunteers.

Providing opportunities for peer support among new Canadian volunteers is one strategy that SHRC has found to be effective. Training people from neighbourhoods populated by new Canadians to start and run self-help and mutual aid groups is another method SHRC

has used to promote volunteerism.

See "Empowered to Volunteer" at

From: Self Help Resource Centre