The face of volunteerism has been changing – more and more, people are looking for ways to donate their expertise, though they often don’t know where to go or who to connect with. And, if they do reach out to a nonprofit organization to offer their professional skills, they are often met with “well, I’m sure we’ll need that in the future, but what we really need right now is…” That disconnect is where Spark comes in.
For over 10 years, Spark has been creating connections between Winnipeggers wanting to volunteer their expertise with local organizations doing important work, helping those who face barriers to things that most of us take for granted – things like food, housing, jobs, and a supportive and safe environment. We’re not your average volunteer opportunity provider, though. We meet personally with people wanting to volunteer their skills, so we can get a real sense not just of their skills, but also of who they are, and how they’d like to help out. We also meet personally with the organizations requesting help. This helps us make sure that they’re ready to work with a skilled volunteer (or Pro Bono Consultant, as we call our volunteers). We make sure that the right people in the organization buy into the project, and that the nonprofit has identified exactly who will help see the project to completion.
When we bring a Pro Bono Consultant together with an organization, we call that a match. Our matches are short term, high impact, and clearly defined. They are also geared towards increasing the capacity of the nonprofit receiving the help. So, while something like communication plans are a popular request, the result of the match would be just that: a plan. In a communications match, for example, over the course of the project the volunteer would help the nonprofit understand their audience, build a plan to meet their communication goals, and transfer some knowledge so the nonprofit can execute the plan after the match is complete.
Since nonprofits face many challenges, often with limited access to the resources or connections to address them, we get requests for practically everything – and as such, we’re happy to talk to people with many different skills sets. Currently, our roster of volunteers is low on skills like graphic design, web developing, social media marketing, HR policy experts, and more. And no, we won’t put you in a situation with unending asks: we respect the skills it takes to do what you do, and create work plans with clear outcomes that everyone agrees to.
Get in touch
Sound interesting? Check out our website to learn more, and visit our blog to see examples of the matches we’ve made recently. We’re also on LinkedIn, and would be happy to connect with you there. Spark is a service of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, a national network of individuals and organizations building stronger, fairer, and more sustainable communities.
If you work at an organization that fits our criteria and think this sounds like something your group needs, shoot us an email. While there are many nonprofits in Winnipeg doing amazing, important work, we work specifically with community development groups helping people who live in Winnipeg. We pride ourselves in the face-to-face nature of our matches, expanding the volunteer’s connections to important work being done in their city, while they in turn help a local organization do what they do better.