Friday, 15 July 2011

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup!

Hi everyone!
Sorry, I've been a bit busy last month but I hope to get back to posting a lot more now.  I thought I'd share some volunteer opportunities coming up for those who are interested in helping out the environment.

From September 17-25, 2011. Vancouver aquarium together with World Wild Fund (WWF) are hosting the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. It is a great event and it runs throughout Canada. You can join a public clean up site at an area near you or you can take on the leadership role and organize a clean up yourself! All you have to do is register on their website .

If you are interested in getting  involved with the environment on a more consistent basis, WWF has a host of volunteer opportunities available on their website in the area near you. Check it out here . Some positions require you to be at least 18 but they do have some opportunities for students who are 16 and over.

Lastly, I'd like to share this cool website with you even though it has nothing to do with volunteering. WWF has a cool feature on their website where you can follow satellite-collared polar bears as they navigate the sea ice on the Hudson Bay. It is really quite amazing, check it out at .

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Charity and Non-Profit Fraud

Although I plan to write much more about the various resources that you can utilize to find your perfect volunteer opportunity I want to spend a little time talking about "fraud". I think it goes without saying that there are many volunteer opportunities out there and most of them are not advertised  through official media channels.
These may be great opportunities, as a lot of charities don't have the resources to properly promote themselves. But be careful because there will always be people out there who want to make a quick buck and take advantage of others. To avoid fraudulent causes, make sure that you are participating in a registered charity or an incorporated non-profit organization.

What is a registered charity?
A charity that is registered with Canada Revenue Agency . You can always check the name or the BN/registration number of the charity on their website and see if the charity is listed.

What is a BN/registration number?
"The BN is used by the federal government to identify organizations and the various program accounts they have. A complete BN has two parts: the registration number (first nine digits) and the account identifier (two letters and four digits)." Often when you ask people for donations they will ask you for this number.

What is a donation receipt?
A charity is registered under the Income Tax Act and is therefore eligible to issue official donation receipts (usually for donations over $20) for income tax purposes. If it is not a registered charity it is illegal for them to issue donation receipts.

Non-profit organizations vs. charities?
A charity is a non-profit organization but not all non-profit organizations are charities. Confusing!? Well to make things clear "a non-profit organization is an association, club, or society that is operated exclusively for social welfare, civic improvement, pleasure, recreation, or any other purpose except profit. No part of the organization's income can be payable to or available for the personal benefit of any proprietor, member, or shareholder, unless the recipient is a club, society, or association whose primary purpose and function is to promote amateur athletics in Canada." Basically not all non-profit organizations are registered as charities with Revenue Canada and thus they will not be able to issue a donation receipt.

But that doesn't mean that it is illegal for a non-profit organizations to fundraise. In fact, a lot of bigger non-profit organizations, that have a board of directors, will be "incorporated" (kind of like a business can be incorporated so that there are shareholders) with the provincial or federal government and will have an associated BN and Corporation Number that you can ask for in order to check if they are registered with the government.

However, there are also cases when the non-profit organization is not incorporated and they also need to fundraise money for a good cause. This complicates matters quite a bit but the best way to check if they are for real is to ask questions about the cause  and how the funds will be utilized. The bottom line here is to stay informed about the organization you wish to volunteer for. If you believe someone is operating a non-profit organization under false pretenses you should report them to the police or the appropriate government agency as soon as possible.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Mind, Body, and Soul

Today, I would like to talk to you a little bit about where I volunteer and how I got there. I currently volunteer at a small charity called Mind Body and Soul Self Help Support Centre (MBS).  It is a community based organization that is involved in  improving the lives of individuals who suffer from mental-health issues.  The centre holds various support programs on education, physical fitness, and nutritional counselling. These programs are designed to promote a proactive approach to mental health. You can read more about MBS here:

As a volunteer, I  help out with the funding application process. But because the organization is so small and the nature of my job is so flexible, I really have the chance to get involved with a lot of different things. While working there I also became aware of the many small charitable organizations that are constantly looking for volunteers. Now I have been lucky enough to have positive experiences pretty much everywhere where I volunteered before but quite a few times I ended up doing things that I didn't really quite enjoy. Most notably, cleaning and filing! That's why I can't stress this enough, volunteering is what you make of it, and you can really have a great time as long as you pick a place which fits your personality and interests.

How I got to MBS was really a coincidence. I was looking to volunteer in my community and saw an add for this volunteering website:
This website is great as it allows you to pick both your area of interests and where you would prefer to volunteer. Now, I had some difficulty with narrowing down my search in terms of location, that's why I consider myself lucky that I found this position at MBS. Really, it was the only position that fit both my location and interests! That's why, I hope to share more volunteering resources as time progresses in order to help you find what you are looking for.

Friday, 6 May 2011


Did you know that in the province of Ontario, high school students need to complete 40 hours of volunteer work in order to graduate? So where to get those 40 hours?

I remember that as a student in high school it was very difficult for me to find a place to volunteer at. I was very interested in medicine so naturally I wanted to work in the hospital but unknown to me at the time, so did many others. When it comes to volunteering, hospitals can get quite competitive because there are many university students who are interested in health studies and who want and need that experience in order to pursue their dream of becoming a medical professional. So when my volunteer application was rejected, I was upset that I didn't get in and I was faced with the uneasy prospect of having to look at other places where I could get the volunteer hours.
As it turned out there were many more instances in my life where I couldn't get a volunteer position. Here are some common complications that make it difficult to get a volunteer spot:

1) You need to be able to commit for at least 12 months.
2) You need to come in the morning-afternoon during a weekday.
3) You need to have a car.

You may think "Well hello! I'm the one who is giving away my time here for free!!!".  Yes, but unfortunately in many cases organization can accept and train only certain amount of volunteers and sometimes they need their volunteers to be able to travel.

I started this organization because I wanted to help people, students in particular, to find volunteer opportunities that will fit them.

I believe it is important to get a placement that you will enjoy and that will fit with your interests and schedule so that you can get the most out of it. I hope to cover many different aspects of volunteering and shed some light on various tools that are available to you while also sharing my own volunteering experiences.