In 2017, Volunteer Canada released a report entitled “Recognizing Volunteering in 2017”, which aims to help organizations better match their volunteer recognition strategies to the preferences of volunteers. The 2013 Volunteer Recognition Study illuminated a gap between how volunteers want to be recognized and the volunteer recognition activities in organizations. Findings and conclusions of this report include:

  • The definition of volunteering is expanding around the globe to include informal volunteering and organic movements.
  • Researchers are including informal volunteering in studies about volunteering, including Statistics Canada in the 2018 General Social Survey: Giving, volunteering and participating.
  • Informal volunteering appears to be increasing and may partly explain why formal volunteering rates have dropped.
  • Canadians identify a wide range of activities and decisions through which they express their values and contribute to community, which include formal and informal volunteering, and individual social responsibility.
  • Volunteer recognition ought to include expressing appreciation and raising awareness about the contributions Canadians made through informal volunteering and individual social responsibility.

Source: Volunteer Canada, 2017. Recognizing Volunteering in 2017.
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More than 30 organizations in Niagara belong to RAVA (Regional Association of Volunteer Administrators). RAVA members promote implementation of best practice strategies in volunteer program management, including recruitment, screening, training, placement, supervision, recognition and evaluation.

RAVA’s objectives include:

  • Promote the profession of volunteer management
  • Support proper involvement of volunteers in social profit organizations
  • Share industry knowledge and contacts
  • Facilitate peer exchange of information and experience

Source: RAVA (Regional Association of Volunteer Administrators).
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INCommunities “Volunteer Connections” offers services for agencies and individuals or matching skills to opportunities. In 2015:

  • Over 350 volunteer positions were posted and over 950 community members sought volunteer opportunities through the Volunteer Connections database.
  • 1712 youth volunteered for 6895 hours through INCommunities’ ChangeTheWorld project, a six-week youth volunteer challenge.
  • Volunteer Connections brought the PREB program to Niagara, which encourages not-for-profit agencies to recognize their volunteers and provide documentation of skills learned, developed, or mastered during volunteer hours.

Source: INCommunities
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INCommunities reports that youth in Niagara have been increasingly engaged in local events, donating over 22,000 hours of volunteer time as tracked through the ChangetheWorld program at INCommunities, Niagara’s Volunteer Centre.

Source: INCommunities
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ExperienceBU is an ongoing, online volunteer recruitment tool at Brock University, that gives students a one-stop location for all the ways they can engage in the community both on and off campus. Community organizations are invited to make a profile for their organization and post information about volunteer opportunities.

Source:  Brock University
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The Get Involved NC portal is dedicated to getting Niagara College students involved on and off campus, in the Niagara community and surrounding regions, whether it be to get hands-on, real world experience or make a positive change in the community. Since the portal launched in 2012 Niagara College Students have recorded over 88,000 volunteer hours. Students are able to browse through a vast array of volunteer opportunities, choose which is best for them, and see how to get more information on community agencies. The Get Involved NC portal also helps promote community events and campaigns in which students might be interested. Community organizations are encouraged to send their volunteer opportunities to or for posting.

Source: Niagara College
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FACS (Family and Children’s Services) Niagara reports that during the 2016-2017 year, 208 active volunteers served as board members, drivers, special friends, tutors, youth advisory members and more. FACS drivers clocked 2,652,387 km during the year, and donated nearly 70,000 hours helping FACS to provide an enhanced level of service to the families they serve.

Source:  FACS Niagara
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Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinics in Niagara: Various formal and informal opportunities exist for individuals in Niagara to receive volunteer assistance with income tax preparation.

Through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, community organizations host free tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to complete income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals who have a modest income and a simple tax situation. The CRA provides a directory of volunteer Tax Preparation Clinics.

As of April 2017, the CRA directory listed 11 clinics in Niagara in total:

  • 2 clinics in West Niagara (Beamsville),
  • 2 in Fort Erie,
  • 2 in Niagara Falls,
  • 6 in St. Catharines
  • 5 in Thorold
  • 4 in Welland.

The above list does not include all such volunteer assistance available throughout the region.

In 2017, a total of $2,079,630.44 of income was generated back in to the community, through the 211 (INCommunities) Community Volunteer Income Tax Clinic Pilot Project, completed in partnership with United Way Niagara Falls and Greater Fort Erie, Fort Erie Salvation Army, Bridges Community Health Centre, Niagara Falls Public Library, Niagara Falls Community Outreach and Niagara Centre for Independent Living.

Source:  Canada Revenue Agency and INCommunities (211)
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The above information is also included in the Economic Prosperity Sector of this report.

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