If you work in the community investment space, chances are, you’ve asked yourself this question.…
IT’S NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK!
Dates For Your Diary
Giving Tuesday – May 5th
ACVC ListenUp! with Michael Alberg-Seberich – May 13th
Social Value Matters 2020 – Sept 28-29th
LBG Canada Welcomes
These are unprecedented times. Going forward, corporate community investment will play a key role in the overall response to the virus threat, and even more, to how we collectively keep our communities safe and have a stable foundation to build and repair from.
Click here to read the inspiring stories of how LBG Canada companies are responding so far.
To help celebrate National Volunteer Week, our friends at Volunteer Canada will also be sharing stories of volunteerism during COVID-19, so keep an eye out!
On Thursday, April 16th IMPACT2030 hosted their bi-weekly catalyst call with the focus on volunteering in times of crisis. Guest speakers and participants shared success stories and challenges corporations and their community partners continue to face as we move into the world of virtual volunteering opportunities.
IMPACT2030 was also excited to announce the beginnings of a collaborative project that will bring corporations and community organizations together to help mobilize employee volunteers, offer online resources and information on virtual volunteering programs, and be a data base of support and continued engagement. While still in its planning stages, IMPACT2030 will be conducting a series of design labs with their partners and stakeholders to map out how this project will take shape.
In preparation for these idea labs, IMPACT2030 is looking for non-profits that are set up to accept virtual volunteers, and technology platforms matching those non-profits with skilled volunteers. Know of anyone? Contact www.impact2030.com and keep and eye on this space for more updates.
Volunteer Canada has compiled a list of resources on their website to help you navigate the ever changing world of volunteering during this unprecedented times. These include: COVID-19 Volunteering Opportunities and Virtual Volunteering Opportunities. Click here to learn more.
Volunteer Canada has also released their annual National Volunteer Week campaign kits which include all new graphics and gifs to say thank you to the nations volunteers, click here to access.
We spoke with Hilary Duff, a Canadian who focuses on solutions-based storytelling for NGOs and social enterprises. Currently based in Ottawa, she recognized a need in her community in light of the pandemic and launched the Neighbourhood Response Network in her area.
Thanks for speaking with Social Value Canada, Hilary! Could you start us off by telling us a bit about what the Neighbourhood Response Network is?
In the most general sense, a neighbourhood response network is a group of community members who have come together to offer support and help during the COVID-19 crisis. Sometimes these are neighbourhood-wide efforts; in other cases, response teams are focused on smaller areas such as street blocks or apartment buildings.
In my Ottawa neighbourhood of Sandy Hill, our response team is operating on a neighbourhood-wide basis with the purpose of matching local volunteers with nearby neighbours who have requested support. Our core organizing team is a group of 10 volunteers.
Sounds like a fantastic initiative. How did this all get started, and how are things going so far?
While city-wide agencies are doing their best to meet peoples’ needs, there are still so many vulnerabilities that exist. This leaves the space for community groups to step in and fill the gaps. Our neighbourhood response team is addressing needs at a hyperlocal, individual-to-individual level. We’re also offering an outlet for those who are privileged enough to be in a position of being able to help.
Our system also aims to reach the people who might slip through the cracks of established services or online mutual aid groups. Oftentimes these groups operate under the assumption that people have internet access or an understanding of how to use technology.
What we’ve found in Sandy Hill is that more than 80% of folks are finding out about us through offline outreach (neighbourhood posters, mailbox letters), and that nearly all requests for help are being directed through our telephone hotline as opposed to our email address. This supports our hypothesis that the people who need help most aren’t necessarily scrolling through online COVID-19 groups, and want to reach out using a familiar and accessible technology (their phone).
At its core, our system is matching Sandy Hill residents who need support with neighbourhood volunteers who can satisfy those needs. So far, it’s been a lot of requests for grocery shopping and prescription pick-ups, but our volunteers have also offered to speak with neighbours who are feeling lonely, or tutor kids who are stuck at home. In one case we have a high school student who calls an older woman twice a week to read through a book. The help people can offer comes in all forms, as does the support requested.
There are some fascinating insights there, particularly about reaching offline individuals or those who may be “slipping through the cracks” in receiving services. Overall, what are you will be the outcome of the Neighbourhood Response Network for your community?
In the long-term, I’m hoping an initiative like this builds a greater sense of community. For better or worse, this pandemic has made a lot of us take pause and recognize that this is something we value. Our network is really an example of how we can use online mediums to connect folks (at a distance!) in the offline world. I am hopeful that when this pandemic is over, we can gather as a neighbourhood and celebrate our ability to come together during a tough time.
Finally, I think there’s something to be said about the way that volunteering makes you feel. While the main purpose of our system is to connect those who can offer help with those who need it most, I believe there’s also value in giving volunteers an outlet to feel as though they can contribute to their communities and problem solve. This is a much more empowering mindset than that of despair and uncertainty, and is the kind of thinking we need to individually and collectively get through the months ahead.
How can people learn more or start their own Neighbourhood Response Network?
A few organizers and I from across Canada built a “How to start a neighbourhood pod” guide. This includes short descriptions of pods that have been created in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa, including our Sandy Hill Community Response Team.
We wanted this guide to reflect that every neighbourhood and community is unique. As a result, our guide outlines best practices as opposed to prescriptive steps. At the same time, we also knew there were going to be some similarities across the country and wanted to connect organizers with one another and existing resources to avoid constantly reinventing the wheel.
Thank you so much for your time Hilary! We hope you take care and keep up the great work!.
What are other organizations doing around the world?
- Imagine Canada and Grant Connect have consolidated resources to create a useful database of information, guides, learning opportunities, and virtual events for sector members navigating the current pandemic. Resources are listed here.
- Baylis Medical announced a new partnership with Ventilators for Canadians, a consortium of Canadian manufacturers, to manufacture ventilators for hospitals across Canada by leveraging its advanced manufacturing capabilities. This story is a prime example of the power of cross-sectional and industry-wide co-operation, where the efforts of the federal government and a range of private industry members work in synergies. Neil Godara, Vice President and General Manager of Design and Manufacturing Services at Baylis, hopes this will inspire others to help where they can. You can find more information here.
- In Uganda, the founding of Tweyambe, meaning ‘let’s help ourselves’ in Luganda, an initiative aimed at raising funds to provide large food and care packages to vulnerable families. Each package includes enough food to feed a large Ugandan family (8+ people) for a month. You can read more about this Tweyambe
- We also see businesses in Uganda finding ways to pitch in. Mobile provider MTN Uganda began offering data-free access to select educational websites for its users so that parents can home school their children. In Uganda, where access to mobile internet is limited or on a pay-as-you-go basis, this effort helps keep families indoors and provides children access to education while their schools are closed.
Thank you to all frontline, essential grocery workers. Thanks to you Canadians are able to safely provide for their families.
Over the past month supermarkets around the world have announced measures to help meet the needs of customers and employees during the COVID-19 crisis. In Canada, grocery chains like Walmart are increasing employee wages, and others like Sobeys are working directly with local food banks providing financial support, donating gift cards and thousands of prepackaged food hampers to help Canadian families during this unprecedented time. Click here for an article from Corporate Citizenship that dives deeper into the international perspective.
Canadians Engage in International Social Value Movement
Are you familiar with Social Value Canada (SVC) – the essential Canadian resource in the advancement of social value thinking among leading corporations, government bodies, non-profits and charities. Interested in the social value movement? Check us out! http://www.socialvalue-canada.org
International Corner – Virtual Volunteering is Here in a Big Way – Here’s How to Take Advantage
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing entire workforces being confined to their homes, which has given rise to an opportunity to explore an otherwise under-utilized element in the corporate citizenship world: virtual volunteering. Meaningful, impact-driven, virtual volunteering that supports and enhances employee volunteer leaders, while achieving strategic outcomes for the company and the community. Click here to learn more.
International Corner – Why Responsible Business Will Shape the New Normal
Sustainable and responsible business matters now – during the crisis – and will grow in importance as we build the “new normal.” Click here to read Corporate Citizenship’s new blog.
Business Council of Canada – COVID-19: Canadian Business Leaders Step Up
Wild Apricot – COVID-19 Funding for Non-Profits: What You Need to Know