Volunteering Strength

A grant from ECF is enabling Volunteer Alberta to re-imagine how they connect people to volunteer centres

When one can’t get volunteers together in person, one can at least get them together online.

Volunteer Alberta (VA) faced a big challenge when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Previously the group, which works to connect and enhance Alberta non-profit and voluntary organizations, could just get volunteers together in a room and connect with them. But now they have to adapt. They quickly realized that their online presence, while serviceable in the pre-COVID-19 days, just wasn’t going to cut it. But they saw the negative and decided to flip it and spin it to the positive.

“As we move from response to recovery to discovery, there is a growing awareness and excitement about how the pandemic has given us opportunities to think differently, change systems, and flex like we have never before,” said Volunteer Alberta Executive Director Karen Link. “Most thrilling is the unprecedented level of collaboration as we see what can get done when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

On Wednesday, April 29, Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) donated $25,000 to VA through its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund (RRF). ECF began strategic COVID-19 granting on March 19 and established the RRF on March 25. The fund was established with $500,000 of ECF’s discretionary dollars and has doubled its impact, thanks to ECF’s generous donors and community partners. The grant will help to transition VA’s website to an online e-learning, active resource platform, and a crisis communications plan is under way.

“This IT infrastructure upgrade will help us by strengthening our online capability to connect with others while creating new capacity for building resources for volunteer centres as they rebuild their volunteer base,” said James Dang, Operations Manager at VA.

Dang shares Link’s positivity in the face of adversity. Forward thinking in the shadow of uncertainty is a sign of strength, and in the context of the volunteer community he works in and supports, Dang sees this as one of VA’s greatest attributes.

“I’m most excited for how the grant is helping us with multiple aspects on the road of resiliency and recovery for Alberta’s non-profit sector,” Dang says. “Improvements such as increasing our ability to create new resources (asked for by our volunteer centre network), and producing a crisis communications plan resource guide for the next unforeseen shakeup to the sector. All this while setting up the foundation for a new Volunteer Alberta website with a focus on our network and building sector capacity in Alberta.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.