New tools aim to bridge the gap between what young Canadians want out of
volunteering, and what opportunities exist
OTTAWA, Feb. 29, 2012 /CNW/ - Canadian youth feel discriminated against
because of their age while seeking, and being assigned, volunteer
responsibilities, according to a landmark voluntary sector research
study. This key insight prompted leaders from the non-profit and
private sectors to collaborate and launch a new suite of tools to
address the issue.
"Our research reveals many young Canadians perceive a lack of respect
when being assigned volunteer duties," said Ruth MacKenzie, President
and CEO of Volunteer Canada. "They feel discounted by other volunteers,
and say they are given the simpler types of tasks that nobody else
would want to do."
Despite the fact that youth continue to have the highest volunteer
rates, are more open-minded, and have superior social media skills,
they are often left out of the strategic decision-making in
organizations and are sidelined to menial tasks.
These core findings about youth, 15-24, were identified in Bridging the Gap, a report produced by Volunteer Canada in collaboration with Manulife Financial. While some organizations have developed innovative strategies to
engage youth, many youth and organizations indicated that they needed
some practical support.
The two partners teamed up with the Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo to produce the tools, available now on www.GetVolunteering.ca. These products are designed to support organizations in their efforts
to effectively engage today's youth volunteers, as well as young
Canadians seeking meaningful community involvement.
MTV's Aliya-Jasmine Sovani and a number of other special guests joined
more than 100 high schools students at a youth career fair in
Kitchener-Waterloo this morning to support the launch.
Common themes emerged from focus group participants during the research
phase of the campaign. One young Canadian said: "Sometimes
organizations don't look at you as an individual, but just as a
volunteer number." Another recommended: "Getting to know volunteers
personally, and learning about their skill sets, will improve long-term
engagement with us."
The Youth Involvement Model is a lead product among the suite of tools, and is based on a pilot
project undertaken in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. It is intended for
use by community-based volunteer centres. The model outlines the key
relationships needed to develop a robust youth engagement program.
"These tools support youth and help to build a strong foundation for
long-term volunteer involvement," said Jane Hennig, Executive Director
of the Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo. "There are many
partners and allies who play essential development and mentoring roles
in order to engage youth in community throughout their lifetimes. We
teamed with a number of these individuals and groups, and their efforts
were fundamental to the success of this pilot project."
Building Blocks for Youth Volunteering is an interactive document geared toward parents, teachers, and youth,
which identifies how adults can support young Canadians in their search
for volunteer opportunities. It includes a self-assessment tool, which
youth can use to identify their skills and interests, as well as how
they may apply while volunteering.
"As Canada's veteran volunteers retire from community involvement
activities, it's essential that we effectively engage our next
generation of volunteers with opportunities that utilize their skills
in meaningful ways," said Nicole Boivin, Senior Vice President and
Chief Branding and Communications Officer at Manulife Financial.
A third youth tool - a tip sheet outlining how volunteer-involving
organizations can become more "youth-friendly" - is currently being
developed in conjunction with Apathy is Boring, and is set for release in late March, 2012.
On Thursday, March 1, Justin Trudeau (Member of Parliament representing
Papineau, Québec) will moderate an interactive conversation on the "Get Volunteering" Facebook page around youth community involvement. A variety of youth influencers will
contribute to the conversation. The general public can access the
conversation on March 1 or anytime thereafter.
"Young people are highly committed and more tech-savvy than other
generations," said MacKenzie. "There's a real opportunity here to take
them seriously and offer them real responsibility in volunteer roles."
About Volunteer Canada
At Volunteer Canada (www.volunteer.ca), we encourage all Canadians to get involved in their communities and
we work with all types of organizations to engage today's volunteers.
Our expertise is backed by original research, practical knowledge, and
our unique network of insight, which includes a broad range of
organizations, from individuals to small volunteer centres to national
corporations with thousands of staff.
About Manulife Financial
Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal
operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. In 2012, we celebrate
125 years of providing clients strong, reliable, trustworthy and
forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial
decisions. Our international network of employees, agents and
distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management
products and services to millions of clients. We also provide asset
management services to institutional customers. Funds under management
by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$500 billion (US$491
billion) as at December 31, 2011. The Company operates as Manulife
Financial in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the
About the Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo
The Volunteer Action Centre is an independent not-for-profit
organization that believes that building community is about making
connections. We achieve this through the three central programs:
Recruitment & Referral, Training & Consultation, and Community Support.
Our staff also provides voluntary sector professionals and volunteers
with training and expertise to expand their capacity and strengthen
community. The Volunteer Action Centre regularly leads and contributes
to networks that help to connect charities and other voluntary sector
organizations, businesses, and individuals with information and
resources to develop and strengthen their volunteer involvement.
Media Note: Visit www.volunteer.ca/study for details on all other campaign components including the Bridging the Gap research summary report and youth volunteering fact sheet, as well as
details about Getvolunteering.ca, the popular Volunteer Quiz, a
powerful volunteer Matching tool, and a 'Get Volunteering' Facebook
page and application.
SOURCE Manulife Financial Corporation
For further information:
Brendan Glauser, Volunteer Canada, 613-231-4371 ext.227, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phoebe Powell, Volunteer Canada, 613-231-4371 ext. 244, email@example.com
Tracy Van Kalsbeek, Manulife Financial, 519-747-7000 ext. 248601, firstname.lastname@example.org
Taryn Graham, Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo, 519-742-8610, email@example.com