Page 1

2017–2018 Annual Report Being the Bridge

A message from

Mack Rogers, Board Chair We live in a thriving city, but one that is not without its challenges. Employment opportunities for newcomers, increasing disengagement of youth, and support for our aging population are just some of the tough issues facing Toronto. One thing is certain though—volunteering is vital in helping to solve them. As the connecting piece between over 650 community organizations and thousands of volunteers, we play a key role in making the city a better place for all. This year we focused on building on our history and furthering the success of our programs. At the leadership level, we welcomed Camara Chambers into the role of Executive Director. A long-standing staff member, she replaces David Allen, who led the organization for four years before retiring. As we pass the baton to Camara, we’re confident that her experience, knowledge of the organization, and strategic vision for the future make her the ideal leader to shepherd Volunteer Toronto to the next level.



A message from

Camara Chambers, Executive Director I’m delighted to be leading a charity that plays such a unique role in building community and shaping the non-profit sector. This year we stepped up to help more newcomers connect to their new community by volunteering. We inspired more youth to give back at our signature events. And we exposed the critical need for volunteers in the city’s Meals on Wheels programs serving our most vulnerable populations, leading to a surge in volunteers and support. In this report, we’ll look back at some of our highlights over the past year. I know though, that our work is not yet done. In the next year, we’ll train youth to become community leaders, we’ll make it even easier for people to volunteer, and we’ll continue to take our expert-led volunteer management training across Ontario. We are the bridge and with your support, we can close the gaps in our city’s infrastructure.



Mission Volunteer Toronto increases the positive impact that volunteering has on the City of Toronto through innovative initiatives that inspire, inform, and connect volunteers and the organizations that need them.

Vision We envision a Toronto that is caring, inclusive, and engaged where volunteering is an important avenue through which everyone has the opportunity to participate and contribute meaningfully.

Values Being what is needed: Filling gaps in support, using experience and knowledge to deliver services. Inclusivity: Everyone is able to contribute in a meaningful way. Positive change: Using expertise to explore new and better ways to support volunteerism in Toronto. Growth & learning: Empowering people and communities to develop and thrive. Connection: Building valuable relationships with each other and those we interact with.




Meet Martina: Volunteer Manager “Without dedicated volunteers our Meals on Wheels program wouldn’t exist. Because of such a committed group, we are able to provide a hot meal each weekday to seniors and others who need our help. I like to give volunteers a route close to where they live. That way they get to know their own community a little bit more. They don’t just deliver food, they’re also providing an all-important safety check and a friendly face. For many clients this may be the only face-to-face contact they will have that day. It goes beyond just delivering a meal, the volunteers provide people with hope.” VOLUNTEERTORONTO.CA

The Canadian Red Cross’ Meals on Wheels program in Etobicoke is nearly 100% volunteer run. One of only three staff members, Martina coordinates over 110 drivers and runners who donate their time. Altogether, the volunteers deliver 50,000 meals to 480 clients each year—serving seniors, those recovering from surgery, and others who have disabilities. Martina schedules her team of volunteers for daily routes and supports this dedicated group of individuals that she calls her “extended family”. The Canadian Red Cross and Martina are always looking for new volunteers.


Supporting Non-Profits as Canada’s Largest Volunteer Centre Volunteer Toronto is a central hub for our city’s non-profits, supporting organizations as they engage volunteers to deliver essential services throughout Toronto. This year we brought attention to the urgent need for more Meals on Wheels volunteers . We built bridges between isolated volunteer managers with our new working groups and annual conference. And, by partnering with provincial and national leaders, we brought Ontario’s non-profits up to speed with leading volunteer management practices. Looking to the future we’re excited to grow, mobilize, and support our amazing network even further. Tapped again to provide provincial support, we’ll be delivering sector-specific training where it’s most needed. We’ll also uncover important insights and trends through ground-breaking research, like our volunteer management benchmark report. As trainers, researchers, and connectors—we’re here for Toronto’s non-profits and vibrant, thriving community of volunteer managers.



Meals on Wheels Volunteer Recruitment Spikes with Our Help Volunteers are the driving force behind Toronto’s Meals on Wheels programs. Every single day, they deliver food and check-in on people who can’t get out on their own. But Meals on Wheels programs are scaling back despite increasing needs in the city. Without enough volunteers, fewer meals are being delivered. Knowing this, we’ve been working hard to bring our city’s Meals on Wheels programs back to full strength. With the release of our research report we unpacked challenges to volunteer recruitment and looked at new alternatives for route delivery. We launched working groups to connect volunteer managers from each program. And, with CBC, we were able to reach more people to share this important need through radio, TV, and online coverage. Volunteer recruitment has spiked as a result and we plan to continue our focused support to help fill the most in need volunteer role in Toronto.

Food and Housing Vulnerability in Toronto


seniors now outnumber children


of a food bank’s users regularly don’t eat for an entire day


people are on Toronto’s social housing wait list


of Torontonians live in housing considered ‘not suitable’


of all food bank users have a disability

Sources: City of Toronto, The Stop Community Food Centre, Vital Signs Report 2018

21 independent Meals on Wheels programs

88% of programs struggle to find volunteers

19% more volunteers needed

Growing Our Network This year we welcomed 86 additional organizations into our non-profit network. We helped them reach new volunteers with position postings and promotion. Our online training, resource library, and regular workshops kept their staff up to date with leading practices. And we brought isolated volunteer managers together with our working groups and our annual VECTor conference. Whether they’re an established organization looking to expand or an emerging non-profit making its mark, we’re here to support them as they achieve their mission.


non-profits in our network

271 in health



in environment and animals


in newcomer services

139 in arts and culture

in social services



in education


in advocacy and government

in fundraising and foundations

Improving Non-Profit Youth Engagement Toronto’s youth are a powerful force that many non-profits find difficult to access. Our youth auditors have stepped up to help—addressing issues ranging from unsuitable roles and mismatched schedules to a lack of online presence. We engaged 44 young volunteers from around the city to lead program audits and address the disconnect between non-profits and youth. They prepared customized recommendations to guide 14 different non-profits towards improved youth engagement. Our youth auditors spoke up and their voices were heard—they led non-profits like TIFF, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, and Pride Toronto to adapt their programs in order to catch the eye of Toronto’s youth.



ECTor Our VECTor volunteer management conference sold out over a month in advance. A rare opportunity for volunteer managers to gather in one place, they spent the day networking, exchanging ideas, and reflecting on the innovations and original research presented in our five key talks. Data-driven design came to the forefront as The Stop Community Food Centre talked about engaging clients as volunteers and the research that shaped their new inclusive training model.

Arts and culture organizations, like TIFF, shared how they came together to award volunteers who give their time to multiple events.

Marginalized communities face barriers at every step of the volunteer process. We presented our new research identifying barriers and how we’re working to reduce them in the future.

Launching a family-to-family mentoring program was no simple task—Yonge Street Mission shared how their program matches families in a mentoring relationship.

Have recent elections affected how people volunteer? Research was presented on the impact that politics have had on volunteering and charitable giving.

Hitting the Road We toured Ontario this year to bring non-profits on board with the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement. As Canada’s largest volunteer centre, Volunteer Toronto was invited to both develop and deliver the training that would help non-profits across the province keep up with the changing needs of the voluntary sector. By collaborating at the provincial and federal level we sparked new thought among volunteer leaders and helped improve the way they recruit, retain, and recognize their volunteers. VOLUNTEERTORONTO.CA


Paving Roads to Opportunities for Over 40 Years This year, close to half a million Torontonians started their volunteering journey with the helping hand of Volunteer Toronto—an organization that’s been an integral part of our city for over 40 years. For youth, seniors, and professionals our special events provided a direct link to local non-profits in need of their time and talents. For others, we were the stepping-stone to explain how volunteering can boost them along their way. Whether at the hundreds of community events we attended, on our website, or in a room full of people at one of our city-wide seminars, we helped direct those who needed us. As our city continues to change, we’ll support those at risk of falling between the cracks. We’ll work with new partners to better integrate volunteering into the fabric of Toronto. We’ll ensure newcomers know how volunteering can help them find a sense of home. And our one-on-one support will become even more important as we meet the diverse needs of our city’s 2.8 million residents. We know that volunteers create community. They care about their neighbours, work together to make a difference, and, with our help, pave roads toward new opportunities.



An Integral Part of the City As an important and supportive arm of the city, we were a part of 137 community events—like Pride, neighbourhood festivals, and job fairs. We connected with 15,000+ people, sharing how they can give their time and learn new skills. For thousands of Torontonians who needed more information, we hosted educational sessions at schools, career centres, and Toronto Public Library branches. We explained how volunteering can help you find a job, how to get started as a newcomer to Canada, and encouraged questions with our volunteer presenters who have lived experience in different roles.

Locations of this year’s biggest information sessions

Reaching Far and Wide We’re sharing our important role like never before. More than 435,000 people visited our website this year looking for opportunities and information to guide their search. And with 30,000+ social media followers, 2,000+ newsletter subscribers, and 18 media features—across TV, print, radio, and online—we’re reaching out to Torontonians from all walks of life and letting them know that Volunteer Toronto is the first place to go to start volunteering.

A special thank you goes out to the media outlets that generously provided coverage of Volunteer Toronto:


»»CBC »»Toronto Star »»GlobalTV »»CHCH »»OMNI TV »»Canadian Immigrant Magazine

»»BlogTO »»ON the GO Magazine »»Tonic Magazine »»Now Magazine »» »»

people visited our website VOLUNTEERTORONTO.CA


Volunteer Advisors Guide Those Who Need Us Most We know that the gaps between low and high-income earners in the city are increasing alongside precarious employment. We know marginalized populations still don’t have the same opportunities. And those with low incomes are travelling further and longer simply to get to work or to access the daily support they need. For those who face extra barriers—like not knowing English, not having access to technology, or for those who simply don’t know where to start—it’s even more important we help them through the volunteer process. Our volunteer advisors are their guides, giving them the tools and confidence they need to volunteer. Day in and day out, we can’t emphasize enough the value of our inperson, over the phone, and email advisor support. This year alone, we helped thousands of individuals who face barriers in Toronto take the next step by volunteering.

3,800+ hours of one-on-one support

2,308 individuals impacted

6 Volunteer Advisors

Barriers Facing Torontonians

20% 1/5

live below the poverty line

are precariously employed


have anxiety about employment

1 /20 19%

don’t speak English or French

youth unemployment rate, the highest in the country

Sources: Getting Left Behind Report 2018, Social Planning Toronto Report: Talking Access & Equity, Vital Signs Report 2018


Meet Dominic & Vivian: Our Volunteer Advisors “I find a lot of people who come to Volunteer Toronto are going through a transition in their life. I encourage them to be brave. I help them feel like they’re not alone. The first application to volunteer is always the most difficult, but it just gets easier. I’ve been there, a lot of people have been—there’s a role out there for them.” Toronto was Dominic’s second stop after moving to Canada, having first completed his graduate studies in London, Ontario. He admits to feeling lost after leaving university, but the Volunteer Advisor role with Volunteer Toronto has been instrumental in putting him on course to determining his long-term goals. Initially, he wanted to get out and interact with people. Now, after more than two years in the role, he says his volunteer experience has surpassed his expectations and has made him more aware of issues that affect others. VOLUNTEERTORONTO.CA

“So many people don’t know how to volunteer. Maybe they’ve conquered their professional world or they want skills and a reference. The biggest challenge is someone who has just retired and doesn’t know what to do with their time. They have so many options. People need someone to talk to about that. And we help them go forward and volunteer.” Vivian started volunteering at her kids’ school, then in her community, and on the skating club board. But when the kids grew up she decided to look for a volunteer role more in line with her interests and on a wider community scale. As a Volunteer Advisor for over four years she’s been a core part of our one-on-one public-facing support, helping hundreds find their path to meaningful volunteer positions.


During National Volunteer Week we celebrated the contributions of Toronto’s outstanding volunteers by recognizing 25 individuals who have gone above and beyond to make our communities stronger. From challenging stigmas to filling gaps in our social services, even fundraising millions of dollars—Legacy Award recipients are champions of poverty reduction, inclusivity, and helping others live more meaningful lives. Some have volunteered for more than half a century while others are just starting to forge their legacy in Toronto. Our annual ceremony brought together all recipients, their friends, family, and nominators. Alongside John Moore of NewsTalk 1010 Radio, our host, we thanked these exceptional volunteers for all they do.

Events for All Ages and Skills




attended Craft Your Change

attended Youth Expo

attended Seniors Fair

Our Craft Your Change event in June was the place to be for young professionals looking to give their talents to causes they care about. Over a pint, we empowered lawyers, accountants, marketers, and others to connect with non-profits.

High school students in Toronto must complete 40 hours of volunteering to graduate. They started their commitment by meeting face-to-face with non-profits at the biggest volunteer fair in the city—our annual Youth Expo. We expect next year’s to be even bigger!

Volunteering is known to improve seniors’ wellbeing—it’s one of the best ways to stay active, meet new people, and participate in their communities. Our volunteer fair at the North York Seniors Centre encouraged seniors to get out and give back.


Meet Darrell: Volunteer Adventurer “I’ve always been adventurous. I pick one goal every year that pushes me outside of my comfort zone—in 2014, I trekked to Mount Everest base camp; last year I cage dove with great white sharks, and next year I’m hoping go cycling in the Grand Canyon. But volunteering has sprinkled adventure into my everyday life. It connects me to a bigger purpose and introduces me to diverse people from whom I get incredibly energized. I’m a better person at work and for my family because of my volunteering—I’m Happier with a capital ‘H’.”


Unforgettable experiences are on the must-do list for this volunteer. Darrell’s constant curiosity for things he doesn’t know anything about drove him to attend one of our Becoming a Board Member workshops. He’s since found the majority of his roles through our website and now volunteers with five very different non-profits— including as a mentor to newcomers, a supporter of a grassroots environmental group, and as a board member for a social housing organization.


Financial Results In 2017-2018, Volunteer Toronto demonstrated effective financial stewardship by ending the fiscal year (March 31, 2018) with a small operating surplus of $8,792. This surplus will be re-invested in new and expanded programs in 2018-2019.



Our Funders The impact of our programs and services would not be possible without the support of our funders and generosity of individual Torontonians. A special thank you to governments and agencies that funded us throughout 20172018 as we built the capacity of non-profits and broke down barriers for those looking to volunteer in Toronto.



Our Champions Volunteer Toronto’s volunteers carry our impact even further through their commitment to our mission and passion for Toronto’s communities. Their contributions—as board members, event supports, and for ongoing outreach— are invaluable. They help extend the work of our non-profit partners and improve the lives of individuals going on to lead their own volunteer journey.

Board of Directors

Mack Rogers Executive Director, ABC Life Literacy Canada Board Chair

Roberto Andreacchi

Geoff McIlmoyle

Dana Dignard

Trevor Zeyl

Corporate Counsel, Wal-Mart Canada Corp. Vice Chair

Associate Vice President, Eastern Canada, Mark’s Commercial, a division of Canadian Tire Corporation Treasurer

Senior Director, Corporate Strategy, GS1 Canada Secretary

Senior Associate, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP Past Chair

Natalie Brykman

Maryann Istiloglu

Sarah Llewellin

Gerry O’Connor

Heidi Reinhart

Charlene Viscek

Senior Manager, KPMG LLP Director

Executive Director, Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists Director

Senior HR Professional, Independent Consultant Director

President, Blackrock Corporate Services Director

Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP Director

Manager, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Scotiabank Director

“With the generosity of time from our caring and skilled volunteers we’re able to do so much more. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who gave their time and talents to Volunteer Toronto this year!”

4,218 hours donated by our 211 volunteers

Camara Chambers, Executive Director



Staff Executive Director David Allen (until November 2017)

Camara Chambers (from November 2017)

Directors Melina Condren Joanne McKiernan*

Managers David Blackmore* Cara Eaton Kelly Harbour Niranjala Mariathas Coordinators and Specialists Sammy Feilchenfeld Kasandra James Olivia Sonnenberg*

Contract Staff Nicole Crawford* Heather DeLory* Adam Dias* Jess Gillis* Bayardo Gonzales* Angini Mohammed* Venus Pak* Lisa Robinson*

*Employed for part of the fiscal year


19 344 Bloor St. West, Suite 404 Toronto, ON M5S 3A7 Canada 416-961-6888

Profile for Volunteer Toronto

Annual Report 2017–2018: Being the Bridge  

We're Canada's largest volunteer centre and we've been around for more than 40 years. Read our latest annual report to see how we're connect...

Annual Report 2017–2018: Being the Bridge  

We're Canada's largest volunteer centre and we've been around for more than 40 years. Read our latest annual report to see how we're connect...