What Canadian volunteers expect from their volunteering experience

As lifestyles have evolved with new priorities and technologies, volunteers now expect an experience that respects their busy lives.

Volunteerism has long played an integral role in Canadian communities and civic society. Each year, millions of Canadians selflessly donate their time and skills to support important causes through non-profits, charities, schools, hospitals and more. However, as lifestyles have evolved with new priorities and technologies, volunteers now expect an experience that respects their busy lives.

Traditional volunteer recruitment and management approaches are no longer sufficient for engaging modern populations. Today's volunteers want flexibility in how and when they contribute, clear communication every step of the way, and assurance that their efforts are making a meaningful impact. They also expect organisations to handle their private data securely and recognise their contributions.

Meeting these needs presents challenges for nonprofits relying heavily on volunteers yet lacking robust digital systems. Manual processes are inefficient and limit volunteer engagement opportunities.

Let’s take a deeper look at the evolving expectations of Canadian volunteers and how forward-thinking organisations are adapting their programs to address new demands. By streamlining previously piecemeal operations onto systemised digital platforms, organisations can focus less on administrative tasks and more on delivering impactful experiences valued by volunteers.

Volunteering trends in Canada

Volunteering has long been ingrained in Canadian culture as an important way to support communities and local causes. Statistics show over 41% of Canadians formally volunteer their time each year. However, trends among volunteers are evolving alongside changing priorities and lifestyles.

Research shows younger Canadians aged 15-24 are volunteering at much higher rates than older generations. Many seek opportunities through post-secondary education programs where hands-on experiences bolster resumes and college applications

While volunteering continues playing a role in civic duty and social connections for Canadians, modern volunteers also want to see measurable impacts. There is an increased focus on aligning time committed with causes addressing specific issues like homelessness, environmentalism or healthcare. Targeting efforts allows volunteers to feel they are strategically applying their skills and experience.

Time remains one of Canadians' most valuable resources. With many juggling family, careers and other commitments, volunteers have less flexibility for involvement that is not respectful of schedules. Streamlined and versatile engagement options that work around demanding lives are important in maintaining volunteer levels among busy populations.

These shifting trends point to a need for organisations to adopt new approaches if they want to recruit and retain volunteers. A modern experience with clear impact and respect for time has become an expectation amongst Canadian volunteers.

Sport Era, a Montréal-based organization that uses Rosterfy for its iconic MUDGIRL events, provides the kind of experience today’s Canadian volunteers expect:

“Volunteering at MUDGIRL means joining a community, being part of a family, and helping thousands of women to push their limits through sports.” -Quentin Poilblanc, Sport Sponsorship & Partnership Manager at Sport Era

Portrait of a concentrated young woman streching her arm before jogging with friends

Respecting Volunteers’ Time

Canadian volunteers are seeking experiences that respect the busy realities of modern life. Flexible engagement options that work around demanding schedules have become an expectation.

Volunteers need involvement opportunities that are adaptable to changing calendars and last-minute time constraints. Features like self-scheduling and last-minute shift substitutions allow volunteers to commit freely based on their availability. Some volunteers may have only an hour a week to spare, while others could work half-day shifts. Flexible scheduling in short blocks respects all levels of availability.

Rosterfy offers flexible scheduling tools to simplify assigning volunteers to shifts. Administrators can easily create shifts specifying dates, times, locations and roles needed. Volunteers then self-select available slots that fit their preferences.

The platform automates many scheduling tasks. Administrators set criteria like required training or availability, and Rosterfy only displays suitable shifts to each volunteer. Shift reminders, waitlists and substitutions are also automated through the system.

“The possibility to create many events and different shifts per country and add many settings on the platform really helps the organisation of our MUDGIRL volunteer experience.” -Quentin Poilblanc, Sport Sponsorship & Partnership Manager at Sport Era

Recognising and rewarding volunteers

While volunteers are primarily motivated by supporting causes important to them, feeling valued for their contributions remains meaningful. Volunteers who believe their time is respected and impacts are recognised are more likely to increase or sustain their commitment levels.

Simple, regular communications highlighting accomplishments help volunteers feel informed about collective progress. Automated monthly emails and annual impact reports are avenues for presenting the successes volunteers have enabled through donated hours. Showcasing results encourages an increased attachment to initiatives and outcomes.

Beyond reports, personal recognition of milestones sustains morale. Badges or achievement seals displayed publicly on profiles celebrate volunteers' lasting impacts - whether for years of service, hours logged or people supported. Digital “thank you” cards sent automatically can further boost volunteer retention.

At larger scales, leaderboards comparing contributed hours by location or program teams can foster friendly competition and recognition among peer networks. And spotlighting monthly/annual top volunteers can publicly raises personal motivation to go above and beyond.

Rosterfy enables organisations to easily set up and manage impactful rewards programs. Administrators can create customised reward tiers to be reached based on hours volunteered, shifts completed, or other metrics. A wide variety of prizes are fully supported, from branded merchandise to exclusive event access.

Volunteers have access to a centralised portal to view their own reward progress and redeem earned prizes. Automated communications alert them of new eligibility to encourage redemption. Detailed tracking and reporting can help volunteer managers understand which rewards motivate volunteers most.

Prioritising data privacy

In the current climate of heightened awareness around online protection and security, organisations must prioritise responsible stewardship of volunteers’ personal information. Earning and maintaining trust requires open transparency and strong safeguards surrounding sensitive data collection and usage.

Volunteers rightfully expect assurance that contact details, schedules and other details will remain private and not be used improperly or sold to outside parties. Platforms like Rosterfy provide privacy policies upfront that plainly outline how data is stored, secured, and used.

Rosterfy ensures volunteer data is always protected through industry-leading security measures. The platform is ISO 27001 certified and complies with rigorous data protection legislation like GDPR. Volunteer data is stored encrypted in secure AWS cloud databases and regular third-party audits validate security practices.

From beginning to end, Rosterfy prioritises volunteer data privacy through industry-leading technical safeguards, compliance with global regulations, and accountability around information handling practices.


What You Should Measure From Your Volunteer Program

Creating a solid framework and process for measuring the impact of your well-run and successful volunteering program is the key to making it even more effective and sustainable.

Clear and consistent communication

Volunteers want streamlined access to relevant information about their involvement and the initiatives they support. Outdated communication methods are no longer effective at engaging busy populations.

With Rosterfy, volunteer managers can create customised email and SMS templates integrated with their brand identity. Templates are tailored to specific user groups, volunteer roles, or milestone triggers. Automated communications ensure the right messages reach volunteers at optimal times through their preferred channels.

Likewise, volunteers enjoy a centralised communication hub. They access important updates, briefings, and event details through a customised portal accessible from any device. Built-in messaging allows direct communication with staff and team leads. File sharing workspaces empower volunteer-led coordination and community building.

Advanced reporting gives volunteer managers visibility over message performance. Insights like open rates, click-throughs, and bounces help optimise future content strategies. Communication history is tracked to avoid duplicating information. Additional integrations promote messages through partner social media channels to further volunteer networks.

Large-scale programs also benefit from powerful bulk messaging. Batch email and SMS blasts disseminate need-to-know details to entire volunteer networks with just a few clicks. This scales communications to thousands of recipients with consistency.

Seeing real impact

For volunteers, seeing tangible proof that their efforts are creating positive change in the community is profoundly motivating. However, quantifying and communicating impact at scale has historically been challenging for nonprofit organisations with siloed systems.

Rosterfy's centralised reporting capabilities unlock new possibilities. Administrators can utilise customised dashboards to extract metrics tracked within the system, such as total hours contributed by program, number of individuals served, and milestones achieved. Impact reports generated through Rosterfy aggregate this quantitative data over time, demonstrating the tangible outcomes and successes that wouldn't be possible without dedicated volunteer support.

These metrics provide volunteers insight into the true scope of the difference they are making. But qualitative elements are equally impactful. Volunteers are encouraged to directly submit first-hand stories, photographs from the field, and video testimonials capturing the human impact of their contributions. This content brings quantified statistics to life, illustrating the real-world effects of efforts in a deeply meaningful way.

By systematically sourcing both quantitative and qualitative measures of impact, Rosterfy's streamlined digital reporting motivates volunteers with an unprecedented depth of understanding about how their involvement directly facilitates positive change. This newfound transparency renews passions and strengthens commitments to important causes.

Providing value to funders

Impact reporting has become critically important for attracting ongoing funding that drives vital community programs. Resource allocators strategically commit increasingly limited budgets based on demonstrations of measurable outcomes, value achieved, and responsible resource use over time.

Rosterfy's streamlined reporting functionalities simplify presenting these compelling reports. Through interactive templates, automated dashboard widgets, and exportable customised narratives, nonprofits can effectively report on organisational achievements, segmented analytics, and qualitative stories.

Flexible filters present results attributable to specific pledge periods, which can confirm that objectives were appropriately monitored and resources used as intended. This level of accountability and transparency strengthens confidence in continued investment allowing organisations to optimise resource allocation and maximise benefits for the communities they serve.


Choosing the modern solution

By using an integrated digital volunteer management solution like Rosterfy, organisations can satisfy the evolving expectations of Canadian volunteers while strengthening their own operational capacities.

Rosterfy addresses each priority area through streamlined features and automation. Flexible scheduling, self-service management tools, and efficient communications through a central dashboard respect volunteers' time. Impact tracking, recognition tools, and tailored reporting ensure volunteers feel valued and informed of the real impacts of their efforts.

“Our volunteers like to use Rosterfy as it’s really easy to use. The dashboard is very user-friendly and they can find all the information they need about all our Canadian events at the same place!” -Quentin Poilblanc, Sport Sponsorship & Partnership Manager at Sport Era

Additional benefits include tightly-integrated data security and transparent privacy policies. Personal data and sensitive organisational information remains safely protected.

Fundamentally, Rosterfy facilitates the meaningful and productive engagement that volunteers seek — from initial recruitment through to ongoing impactful involvement and recognition of contributions over periods of dedicated service.

Rosterfy's feature-packed platform continuously delivers a return on investment through engaged volunteers, retained talent, and stronger stakeholder relationships, which are critical to long-term sustainability.

By using Rosterfy, non-profits and charities address the priorities of Canada's dedicated volunteers while strengthening their own capacity to better serve communities into the future.

About Rosterfy

Rosterfy is used by nonprofits, charities, sporting federations, local governments, and more to better manage their volunteer programs by improving how they can recruit, screen, train, and retain volunteers.

Our market leading technology helps you create an engaging experience throughout the whole lifecycle of your volunteer journey.

Book a call today.

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