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The Road to Consulting is Paved with Sticky Notes – JP Baker

The Road to Consulting is Paved with Sticky Notes – JP Baker

The Road to Consulting is Paved with Sticky Notes

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Like most children growing up on the Canadian prairie in the 1980s, I always dreamed of being a planning consultant in the not-for-profit sector. Kidding, of course. This is the kind of work that people tend to fall into because they have an interest in social impact, in how people organize in groups to make that impact, and in how groups articulate what they want to achieve so that they can convince others (funders, partners, volunteers) to get on board.

My route to Vantage Point is rather circuitous. In my youth, I spent a lot of time travelling the country, working at jobs ranging from blueberry picker to industrial recycling waste sorter. Ever the pragmatist, I eventually went to university to study literature and languages. Simply put, I was interested in humans and their words. I parlayed that education into a career in adult language education and freelance writing. In South Korea, I spent several years in teaching, management, and corporate communications. Back in Canada, I applied my entrepreneurial spirit to establish two businesses, one bricks and mortar (a language school) and one virtual (a consultancy in language education).

However, as I started freelance writing for not-for-profit organizations and volunteering on boards, and then facilitating community planning processes, I found something I needed more of: meaning and connection. The meaning came through social impact, in making changes in the community and the broader world. It somehow felt like an extension of the political and cultural activism of my youth. The connection came through working with groups of others – staff, leaders, community organizers, boards – to make that impact. I also discovered sticky notes.

Fast forward to January of 2020, when I sat down to make annual goals for my independent consulting business. By that time, I’d been working for several years in the greater Kamloops region supporting not-for-profits with strategy and governance, talking about how clarity and cohesion can lead to greater impact. At a time when “social distancing” wasn’t yet entrenched in our lexicon, I decided that in 2020 I wanted to a) expand my geographical reach throughout BC, and b) collaborate with others more fully and intentionally. Oddly enough, the pandemic – and widespread adoption of tools for virtual work – helped make those goals a reality.

In October of 2020, I excitedly joined the Vantage Point team. It wasn’t the first time meeting several team members. I’d discussed governance and provincial outreach over Zoom with some of them (yes: Vantage Point was using Zoom in the Before Times!). And I’d worked with Maria Turnbull to submit a joint proposal for a large strategic planning engagement. I had a sense of how the team worked, with each other and with people outside the organization. So, when the opportunity arose, I decided to leave 15 years of self-employment behind.

At Vantage Point I’ve found the same spirit of abundance that guided my independent work for years. I’ve found an amazing and diverse team of people from whom I learn new things every single day. And I’ve been able not only to collaborate more fully and completely, but also to serve new client organizations throughout the province (and country), of all sizes and stages, doing truly impactful work. Besides helping our client organizations plan, articulate, and activate ideas for change and impact, I play a role at Vantage Point in sector development. I convene and connect organizations, bringing not-for-profit leaders together to formulate sector-wide aspirations.

Author

JP Baker

JP is our Planning Consultant, ready to support organizations strategize the most effective ways to reach their goals. JP has extensive experience as a facilitator, consultant, researcher, and writer. As a consultant, JP is sought out for his expertise in governance, organizational culture…

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The Road to Consulting is Paved with Sticky Notes – JP Baker

Path to People – Dorla Tune

Path to People

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When I was nearing the end of my high school career and was deciding which path I was going to take for post-secondary, I narrowed down the decision to two choices.  I was either going to pursue my love of writing by going to journalism school at Carleton University, or pursue my calling to work with people and take a Social Work degree at McMaster University. In my 19-year-old wisdom I made the decision to go with Social Work because “when I get burned out, I will just go back to school for writing.”  Ahhh youth.  It was likely this choice that solidified value alignment as the unwavering foundation of each decision to leave or take on a particular position. When I learned about the core values in the Canadian Social Work Code of ethics, it is the top three that became imprinted in my approach to my work life:  Respect for Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons, Pursuit of Social Justice, and Service to Humanity.

This career choice led me to work alongside people at a variety of non-profit organizations and many sectors including gender violence, child welfare, newcomer settlement, philanthropy, and community development. As an introvert, I often question why I chose a path of people work. People are exhausting.  But they are also capable, complex, creative, and brilliant.  What keeps me coming back to human-centred work is the opportunity to learn from their stories and realities.  Each of my work experiences presented opportunities to learn how an inequitable and unjust world impacts different people. Not-for-profits have a profoundly important responsibility to create spaces where people feel worthy, human, and valued. Regardless of an organization’s mission or mandate, social justice cannot be treated as outside the scope of work. Yet, this is how many now operate.

The year 2020 refused to let the world sleep on social justice, and 2021 is not dropping the baton. I joined the Vantage Point team in September 2020. During the summer of Anti-Black Racism preceding my start, I was taking intentional space to be still and remain in healing spaces.  Despite being immediately drawn to the posting for Organizational Consultant at Vantage Point, I was now approaching career decisions with a revised set of criteria. However, I knew this position was an opportunity to bring 20 years’ learning and experience working in non-profit organizations and reflect it back while supporting the development of leadership in the sector. Leadership in any area is best demonstrated through the humility of ongoing learning, and the bravery of making change based on what is learned.

Almost ten months later, I continue to celebrate my choice to join a team of staff who value learning alongside our members, partners, volunteers, clients, and the diverse communities at large. Vantage Point describes itself as a learning lab and 2021 continues to test this claim with the ever-emerging societal shifts and movements, as well as our own internal ones.  Every day that I show up at Vantage Point, I see the staff team’s willingness to step in to discomforting spaces, reflect, ask questions, collaborate on new approaches, and implement changes. I am extremely grateful.

Author

Dorla Tune

Dorla Tune is our Organizational Consultant who supports and strengthens our training, planning, and consulting services. Dorla has over 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector which spans across multiple provinces and organizations. She started in Ontario where she graduated from McMaster University…

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Rowan's Blog

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“Disabling” Communications

          I love communications because when we create spaces for dialogue and share our visions, missions, goals, passions – whether they are individual or organizational – the very fabric of our societies begins to weave in unique, interesting ways.

            It’s a funny time to be writing you about my work. Although I have worked at Vantage Point for two years now (July 2019), I’m in the somewhat suspenseful position of Interim Communications Manager, filling in after Nav’s transition to Take a Hike Foundation this April.

            I started at Vantage Point as a practicum student at Langara’s Library & Information Technology diploma program and built the Vantage Point library. After a fun and engaging practicum, I applied for the Marketing & Communications Coordinator role – previously championed by our Membership & Government Relations Coordinator, Miranda Maslany – and landed the position as I continued my studies. As the Marketing & Communications Coordinator, I eagerly introduced video production and editing to the role. I worked with team members to create our Membership video, and found opportunities for video in Volunteer Appreciation Week, and the #Elimin8Hate campaign. I even dabbled in animation with some of our custom delivery content!

            Despite the temporary nature of my interim role, I find myself diving into very deep, meaningful, and hopefully long-term work. While co-leading the conversation at Vantage Point around accessibility alongside the brilliant Kathleen Lane, I am also currently captioning videos for Homelessness Services Association of British Columbia (HSABC) – which has provided an incredible learning opportunity when it comes to BC’s housing crisis. As a side note, you can read about the powerful impact organizations like WISH have via an interview I conducted with Mebrat Beyene last Summer. As the Vantage Point team focuses in on our first strategic priority around equity, decolonization, and inclusion (EDI), it has been a great opportunity to focus on accessibility and designing digital media for people with disabilities (PWD).

            I’ll be honest and admit accessibility as an aspect of my work sort of snuck up on me. It was not a topic I considered much growing up, but when I met my fiancé, it became a regular discussion and I started to notice major gaps in infrastructure, services, and language. I was later diagnosed with a lifelong disability as an adult and started to truly understand how disabilities – especially when overlooked or undiagnosed – have very real impacts on a person’s life and livelihood. The concept of “disability” is a large, encompassing umbrella term which stretches beyond even my own understanding at times. It is both macro and micro, necessary to look at the big picture while keeping in mind each disability is extremely personal.

            How many people in your life openly have a disability? According to data released in 2017 in The Canadian Survey on Disability, 22% of Canadians over 15 years of age have at least one disability.[1] That means more than 6.2 million people and does not encapsulate all people within Canada. When you take that number into account, how many people in your life would you estimate actually have a disability – known or unknown? The interesting thing about disabilities is that at some point in their life, almost everyone will have a disability whether it is due to injury, genetics and/or ageing.[2] Despite their prevalence, disabilities account for some of the most widely misrepresented, misunderstood, and stigmatized lived experiences.

            On average, working adults with disabilities experience a wage gap of up to $19,800 after taxes with an approximate 56% employment rate (compared to the 80% without disabilities).[3] An article published in Wiley in 2020 found people with developmental disabilities were over-represented in Ontario prisons at 2.2% of incarcerated individuals – compared to the 0.7% represented in the general public.[4] Additionally, many people with disabilities don’t have marriage equality across Canada. In BC, if a spouse earns more than $2,460/year, the disabled person in that relationship loses access to their financial and medical benefits which often covers otherwise unaffordable medical expenses.[5] What if the spouse can’t afford those bills? What if both individuals require expensive accommodations? There are also social aspects to marriage equality; for example, if two dependant adults want to marry each other, an unsupportive community might create barriers.

            How to serve people from a broad range of backgrounds was a constant theme in my Library & Information Technology studies. Naturally, libraries are fantastic resources for people largely underserved and overlooked by many service providers. Between the conversations I would have at home around disabilities, and the opportunities arising at school to learn about disability services, I developed a real interest for the work. By second year, any time we could choose our project topic I treated it as an opportunity to learn more about disability services. As an added perk, we visited the National Network for Equitable Library Service – how cool is that!

            It’s interesting how communicating with individuals and inviting them into what we love learning creates opportunities. As I began having more conversations about designing for people with disabilities, new and unexpected pathways emerged. After many meaningful conversations, my cousin and good friend invited me to learn Mental Health First Aid, and my colleague shared information about a certificate program I jumped on in designing digital content for accessibility. I love communications because when we create spaces for dialogue and share our visions, missions, goals, passions – be them individual or organizational – the very fabric of our societies begins to weave in unique, interesting ways.

            With this Interim Communications Manager role, I am folding in my lived experience as a disabled person, my path in education, and cumulative work experience. I am co-creating an internal Vantage Point guide on digital accessibility practices and soon leading training sessions for the whole team – while at the same time captioning videos for another not-for-profit. The best part is seeing how excited other people are to learn this content as well! There are many things in life to be excited about (people who join Vantage Point know I love cycling before they meet me, somehow), but information sharing through meaningful communication is the greatest of all, because connecting through language is the key to cultural and social change.

 Discover BC’s vast disability services on their website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/services-for-people-with-disabilities/supports-services

 

 

[1]New Data on Disability in Canada, 2017. Statistics Canada, 2017. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2018035-eng.htm

[2] Disability and Health. World Health Organization, 2020. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/disability-and-health

[3] Disability in Canada: Facts and Figures. Easter Seals, 2019. https://easterseals.ca/english/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Disability-in-Canada-Facts-Figures-updated-Oct-2019.pdf

[4] Whittingham, Lisa, et al. The Prevalence and Health Status of People with Developmental Disabilities in Provincial Prisons in Ontario, Canada: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Wiley, 2020. https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.langara.ca/doi/epdf/10.1111/jar.12757

[5] British Columbia – Marriage Equality by Province. Kate and CRPS, 2020. http://www.kateandcrps.com/british-columbia-marriage-equality-by-province/

Author

Rowan King

Rowan takes care of the marketing and communications side of Vantage Point. He designs the newsletters you see in your inbox, edits the videos and podcasts you stream, populates the social media feeds you follow, and more! Rowan has a passion for accessibility and information collection (i.e.,…

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Welcome, Lynn Moran, Interim Executive Director!

Welcome, Lynn Moran, Interim Executive Director!

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Vantage Point is pleased to introduce Lynn Moran as interim Executive Director while a search begins for a new, permanent Executive Director. Lynn has more than 30 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector in BC, Canada and internationally, leading organizational growth. She previously led the Community Action Initiative with Canadian Mental Health Association – BC, AMSSA, and Crossroads International. Over the next three to four months, Lynn will be focusing on supporting Vantage Point staff who continue to deliver programs and lead projects to lift the not-for-profit sector in BC.

The Vantage Point Board worked with Wayne Robert, a Third Sector Company affiliate, to recruit Lynn in this interim position. Wayne and Third Sector Company have established a methodology that takes the opportunity to use the interim period to prepare an organization for new, stable leadership. Wayne will continue to be a Senior Advisor in the process and has done so for six other organizations in the past five years, which includes working with Lynn in a previous placement. Vantage Point would recommend Wayne to members who are looking for interim help and he can be reached at wayneyvr@mac.com.

 

Looking Forward

Our vision continues to be for a thriving not-for-profit sector where organizations mindfully engage talented people and draw on a spirit of abundance to achieve their missions. As our members know, Vantage Point is known for providing both quality education through its Knowledge Philanthropists, and for evolving with the sector to respond to the needs of our members.

As we prepare for a post-pandemic reality, Vantage Point remains committed to a thoughtful and strategic approach to building the capacity of not-for-profits through education and consulting, and initiatives to foster a stronger partnership with government to invest in the sector.

Lynn is aware that this is a priority for both staff and members. There are several options being explored to help ensure attention and energy goes into the Sector Development work in a thoughtful manner. While Lynn will focus primarily on Vantage Point’s interim processes, working closely with the Board, her years of experience will undoubtedly help to build the foundation for a new Executive Director to lead Vantage Point with a long-term vision for a thriving not-for-profit community.

The Vantage Point team extends our gratitude to the Board for their dedication and tireless efforts throughout this process, to Harbour West for their advisory support, and leading the search for a permanent Executive Director; as well as to Wayne Robert, a Third Sector Company affiliate, for identifying Lynn as interim Executive Director, and of course, to Lynn Moran for joining the team in this time of transition

Author

Vantage Point

We are a team of passionate and dedicated not-for-profit professionals dedicated to providing not-for-profits with high quality leadership training. We are here to set you up for success. Learn more about our team at www.thevantagepoint.ca/about/our-people/

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Thank You, Alison!

Thank you, Alison

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“As the eternal optimist, I seek change as a process of improvement and getting to better places. I believe that change refreshes, allows new perspectives, challenges outdated thinking.” – Alison Brewin, Change: My Takeaways as an Executive Director

At the end of April, after three years of hard work and dedication as Executive Director, Alison departed from Vantage Point. Alison led Vantage Point through profound change and transformation, focusing the organization on a path of sector development and convening many not-for-profit leaders along the way.

In honour of Alison’s contributions to our team, Vantage Point as a whole, and BC’s not-for-profit sector, we would like to highlight her achievements in demonstrating each of our five team values – the first being her implementation of these values to unite our staff and stakeholders in our vision and mission.

Abundance & Adaptability

Strengths-based | Encouragement + Support | Openness | Make it happen! | Flexibility | Learn from mistakes

It is clear when interacting with Alison that she cares deeply about people. Staff felt this when we were reminded to take time for ourselves and find ways to relax when the work became intense – whether because of COVID-19 or due to it just being “that time of year”.

When the pandemic hit, Alison was quick to develop weekly, then bi-weekly, updates on how the team was fairing and our latest accomplishments, as well as process adventures. It was a great way to “stay together” while we stayed apart – a phrase we are all too familiar with at this point. This encouragement, support, and celebration of the team’s work gave an over-arching view of the impact we were having on the sector and lifted the group’s morale.

It is no surprise the biggest test of adaptability came in the form of the pandemic. For many of us, it is the largest change we have ever faced and continues to test each of us in different ways. As the leader of a growing team, Alison quickly took action to make sure the staff had the resources they needed to feel safe “at work”. For Vantage Point, this meant moving everyone from an office space which promoted social connections and quick collaboration to remote and isolated work. And yet, Alison maintained a certain level of social connection and collaboration throughout the team by implementing the necessary technology and experimenting with different ways to communicate with each other until we found a system that worked.

Working from home presents natural challenges, but Alison’s spirit of abundance allowed team members to attend meetings as they are and encouraged us to take care of ourselves so we could take care of our communities.

Collaboration

Solutions Focused | Accountability + Follow-through | Open, Timely, Straightforward Communications

Alison prioritized strong relationships with other organizations and stakeholders – not only during the pandemic (which were essential in our ability to deliver our services and opportunities), but throughout her entire time as Executive Director. We are incredibly grateful for these relationships and recognize many of them are due to Alison’s obvious care for making positive change in the sector.

Alison worked closely with partners and funders on several successful initiatives. This includes two reports on the impacts of COVID-19 on BC’s not-for-profit sector. We were able to see tangible data on the current state of the sector and, through this, identify opportunities for the sector and government to support the sustainability of not-for-profit and charitable organizations.

Alison recognized the potential to completely reframe our relationship with our members – as collaborators. Alison’s vision for amplifying the voice of the sector through the power of convening as member organizations and sector leaders, is the foundation of our Membership.

In this work, Alison built a strategic partnership with Propellus’ Volunteer Connector to update GoVolunteer. Originally a platform launched in the early 2000’s for organizations to post volunteer opportunities, GoVolunteer merged with Propellus’ Volunteer Connector thanks to Alison’s ability to bring people and initiatives together. GoVolunteer remains a resource hub for BC organizations and volunteers, while the capabilities of Volunteer Connector create additional opportunities.

Curiosity

Research + Ask Questions | Personal + Professional Growth | Open-minded

Alison’s curiosity and dedication to learning is a key component in her work to identify what people and organizations need when shaping our services over the past few years. Alison’s instinct to ask “What if?” at each turn encouraged the team to be open-minded towards the possibilities of what we could achieve. Alison’s impact is demonstrated in the numerous Sector Development campaign achievements, calling on government to act in support of the sector.

Alison’s deep social justice roots and commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, propelled individual and team learning in Indigenous cultural competence, decolonizing practices, and anti-oppression understanding. We have each moved along in our journey in learning what it means to individually be anti-racist and contribute to building an anti-racist organization.

Fun

Laughter + Joy | Playful | Team Gatherings

Finally, our team value of fun showed up in Alison’s dedication to our weekly happy half hours every Thursday, her ability to see the humour in challenges, and her desire to celebrate and recognize team members for their work.

Alison, you truly transformed Vantage Point and we will carry your vision forward with care. We wish you all the best as you adapt to new grand adventures with a curious and collaborative approach, and the ability to find abundance, humour, and fun wherever you go.

All our best,

Your Vantage Point team.

Author

Vantage Point

We are a team of passionate and dedicated not-for-profit professionals dedicated to providing not-for-profits with high quality leadership training. We are here to set you up for success. Learn more about our team at www.thevantagepoint.ca/about/our-people/

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Welcome to the New Vantage Point Website!

Welcome to the New Vantage Point Website!

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After months of planning, we are excited to announce the launch of our new website! Our goal for this platform is to provide a fresh, clean user interface and an improved navigation system which allows visitors and members to easily search and view our workshops and sector services that we offer at Vantage Point.

One useful feature we improved on the website was the ability to search and sort through our media content, including: blogs, podcasts, and downloadable resources. Now, you can more easily search for specific posts and resources using the dedicated search bar and filter results based on categories such as audience, topic, relevance and more.

Another feature we improved on the Vantage Point site is the Events Calendar. The Calendar (found under the training menu) displays all our upcoming workshops and labs. You can also change how the events are displayed by selecting “List,” “Month,” or “Day” in the top right corner.

We’re extremely excited to share this new site with you and hope it improves your experience with our resources, services, and all Vantage Point has to offer. A huge thank you goes to Dillon Dhak, our Digital Intern who spent a great deal of time and effort making this happen (not to mention, the many others who offered their time and support). We look forward to continually improving this site for you and our other community members.

As an added bonus, you can head over to govolunteer.ca to see the latest developments with the platform!

Shagun Bhanot headshot

Author

Arron Fucoy

Arron Fucoy is our Tech Intern, who assesses Vantage Point’s technology needs and researches potentially useful software for the team. He brings his resourcefulness, organizational and time management skills, and friendly personality to the team. Arron is at the start of his career after an education in IT at Kwantlen Polytechnic, and completing a Web Tech certificate at BCIT.

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Shagun’s Blog

Shagun's Blog

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I come from a culture where relationships thrive on reciprocity and human connections create a collective identity and a sense of belonging. For me, when I arrived in Canada, this innate need to look for something similar found its satiation in the most fulfilling experience of “Volunteerism”. Not only did volunteering help me create new connections that were “based on reciprocity” but it gave meaning and direction to my career path as an HR professional.

My deep commitment to the benefits of volunteerism arose from witnessing how skilled volunteering can transform lives and enrich communities. I formed long-lasting relationships with amazing mentors, co-volunteers and local communities which helped me carve my people oriented career trajectory and inclusive leadership style. This commitment to volunteering originated in my role as the Board Member for Immigrant Advisory Council. Later on, when I secured the Vancouver Foundation grants for small community building projects, I came up with a transformative project idea to set up “mini-libraries” across Burnaby in partnership with Burnaby Association of Community Inclusion, City of Burnaby and Artists Helping Artists. For me, the essence behind the project was to create increasing connections between people living in different neighbourhoods across the city. The project was truly inclusive considering the diverse people who became involved in the project as well as the enthusiasm of the community partners. Meaningful volunteering thus became a natural calling, for I had seen the sense of purpose and belonging it created for one and all without any exclusion or bias.

In life, I have found myself in situations where I had to dig deep and find solutions to overcome complex challenges that I faced as a person of colour, a professional immigrant woman, and a single mom. I did so by believing in my abilities and by leveraging resources; by bringing an objective lens when reviewing a situation; and by communicating to others the value I found in their perspectives. Also, by meeting different people and observing diverse human emotions and human behaviours, I developed an intellectual and emotional intelligence that has equipped me to create safe inclusive spaces where people thrive and engage in rewarding opportunities.

These lived experiences and their transference to Volunteerism, People Management, and Relationship Building is what I bring to Vantage Point as its People Manager. I strongly value and identify with Vantage Point’s mission of lifting the capacity of our not-for-profit sector by strategically investing in and utilizing our most valued asset: “our people”. My strengths of turning scarcity into possibility and challenges into opportunity permeates every aspect of my role here. Our transformational model of people engagement has empowered me to nurture and generate reciprocal relationships and strong community partnerships. Having craved for connections, for a chance to use my abilities, and to work with like-minded people towards creating solutions, I constantly endeavour to create a culture at Vantage point where everyone feels welcomed, connected, and respected. Given my work and contributions at Vantage Point, I know that I look back with pride and move forward with a purpose!

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Author

Shagun Bhanot, PHD, CPHR

Shagun brings her warm energy, positive spirit, and passion for volunteerism to her role of People Manager at Vantage Point. As a Chartered Professional in Human Resources and with her passion for people engagement, she recruits, trains, and manages our team of professionals, consultants, and skilled volunteer…

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Govolunteer Heads into a New Chapter!

Govolunteer Heads Into a New Chapter!

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Happy National Volunteer Week!

We are excited to bring you some news as we celebrate the incredible efforts that volunteers contribute to BC’s communities. But first – a bit of backstory:

If you are familiar with our history or celebrated with us for our 75th anniversary – you may know Vantage Point began in 1943 as a volunteer centre. We have changed a great deal over the years but always maintain a connection to our roots in volunteerism. One way we have done this is through our work in Knowledge Philanthropy – we bring in skilled volunteers who contribute their expertise to our services and spread awareness of this philosophy with our clients, partners, and broader community. We even wrote a book! The Abundant Not-for-profit highlighted the value that skilled volunteers bring to the not-for-profit sector. We have also run our platform Govolunteer.ca that connects skilled volunteers and not-for-profits for almost 20 years.

Govolunteer.ca was launched in 2003 as a volunteer opportunities database. And it’s been a powerful tool: each year we receive over one million page views from interested volunteers. The site was designed for individuals to match their specific skills and interests to the many volunteer opportunities available. We know the value of the site firsthand as we have recruited many of our Knowledge Philanthropists through the platform from HR Facilitators, to Policy Analysts, to Communications Experts, and more!

Despite regular maintenance, at some point after over 10 years of use by the community, the site became “old” by technology’s standards and we had to consider our next steps.

That’s why we decided to do what not-for-profits do best: collaborate. Vantage Point and our partners Volunteer Burnaby, and the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre have teamed up with Propellus who runs Volunteer Connector – a fantastic platform for volunteers and not-for-profit organizations to connect. Propellus is a not-for-profit and volunteer centre that deeply understands the Canadian not-for-profit landscape. Their platform is already used to connect hundreds of not-for-profits and thousands of volunteers across Canada.

Especially in the context of COVID-19, we were mindful that an overall average of 59% of organizations reported a drop in volunteers (according to the UNRAVELING report published in February, 2021). It was important to us to not only maintain a connection to our original purpose but to support and uplift this integral function within the sector.

Our solution was to maintain a simplified version of Govolunteer.ca that provides a portal to Volunteer Connector. Govolunteer.ca will also remain a resource hub: we have highlighted a number of impactful organizations on the Govolunteer.ca page that provide leadership to volunteerism in BC including Volunteer BC, Volunteer Canada, and more.

After a virtual tour of Volunteer Connector this April, we were pleased to hear all the positive feedback from Vantage Point members who currently use on Govolunteer.ca. Volunteer Connector has some amazing features for not-for-profit organizations including analytics, multiple user logins, an easy-to-use interface, volunteer management tools, and more. Additionally, Vantage Point members can have their Volunteer Connector postings featured on Govolunteer.ca for an extra boost!

We also saw the immense value that Volunteer Connector brings to volunteers. The interface is user friendly with a “cause” tag to navigate local and virtual opportunities including causes such as anti-racism, poverty and homelessness, LGBTQ+, food security, arts & culture, and much more. Volunteers can create an account to apply for opportunities and track their volunteer experience over time.

We’re thrilled about this next chapter and grateful for the enthusiasm our members have shared about this transition. You can visit Govolunteer.ca to see our new look and explore the opportunities available at Volunteerconnector.ca.

Author

Miranda Maslany

Miranda leads Vantage Point’s membership program and coordinates our government relations work. She has always had a passion for environmental issues and completed a Double Major in Environmental Studies and Sociology, with a Minor in Business at the University of Victoria.

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Embracing Change

Embracing Change

Culture: People First
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The past two years have been full of change – and growth. My journey with Vantage Point began having been out of the workforce as well as living abroad for many years. Living in East Africa shaped who I am today and my ability to interact with others is directly informed by my experiences as a South Asian and Canadian woman. During my time in Tanzania, I developed friendships with families from all over the globe – South Africa, Malaysia, India, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates – and this made me more aware of global affairs as it impacted people around me. The local Tanzanian culture showed me the importance of a strong and united family unit where members depend on one another through hardships and elders are highly respected.  Learning Kenyan, Tanzanian, Indian, and Canadian culture fueled a desire in me to connect with and appreciate the people around me. These experiences have enriched me and when I came across Vantage Point’s philosophy for embracing diversity and building bridges and capacity, I knew this was the right place for me!

 I started out as the Administrative Coordinator and have since expanded my role to become the Executive Coordinator taking on more challenges and learning new skills. What I enjoy most is the variety of tasks that comes my way, for example, scheduling Executive Director’s meetings, bookkeeping, and supporting the board as Corporate Secretary as well as supporting our People Manager. My first few weeks at Vantage Point were challenging as I got familiar with the new software and will forever be grateful for the patience and support from the team.

I see Vantage Point as a leader in capacity building, and as someone who was looking to develop new skills, this was particularly important to me. The pandemic resulted in a lot of changes where I was challenged to develop new skills as we all shifted to working remotely. I had to quickly adapt to Zoom meetings, learn new software to digitize our accounting processes, and even managed to organize our very first virtual Annual General Meeting!

After living abroad and returning to work, the COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges and changes and although this can all be daunting, I have found that if we embrace it, change can be very fulfilling.  Like Mount Kilimanjaro – it’s a tough climb but the view is worth it. Vantage Point is all about embracing these challenges, and together as a team, we are able to achieve new heights. It reminds me of the African proverb, “If you want to travel fast, go alone, but if you want to travel far, go together.”

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Shemin Bhatia

Shemin brings a positive outlook, sense of curiosity, and attention to detail to Vantage Point. As a people person and continuous learner, Shemin is happy to be among a team of passionate people supporting the not-for-profit sector. As Executive Coordinator, Shemin provides key support to the team in coordinating the administrative tasks for Vantage Point’s accounting and financial management. She also acts as a corporate secretary to the Board of Directors and as executive assistant to the Executive Director.

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

An Organizational Challenge

An Organizational Challenge

Culture: People First
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As a kid, I loved playing Tetris. If you have never played Tetris, I’ll give you a general introduction: You are given a rectangular playing space on the video game screen. As the game starts, blocks of different shapes and sizes start dropping into the rectangle. Your job is to rotate and drop the blocks strategically to form horizontal lines leaving no blank spaces all before the block hits the bottom. If you do fill a complete line with blocks it disappears, and you score points. If you leave empty spaces in the line, the blocks just pile up higher and higher. There is one long, skinny block that occasionally shows up. If you plan your blocks well, you can get rid of four lines at a time using this long piece, and you get more points for doing so. That’s called a “Tetris.” As you gain points, you move to higher levels where the blocks drop faster, and the challenge gets tougher. (Fun fact: In 1992, There was even a thesis written by John Brzustowski at the University of British Columbia, about whether this game even had an end or if you were good enough, you could literally play forever.)

Like many people, COVID-19 has left me with many hours spent at home. How do I entertain myself? I organize. I organize bookshelves, closets, drawers, the pantry, and even the recycling has sorting labels and bins. Then I reorganize when I figure out an improved space-saving or visually appealing solution, much to the dismay of my partner who is never sure where to find anything because I’ve “improved” things 865 times. I see it as a personal challenge to make it more functional, more efficient, and look good all at the same time. Strategic, creative design and organized execution–two of my favourite things!

I love solving problems by connecting the dots of how things can work together, how people can help each other, how systems can work more efficiently. Whether large and complex or the arrangement of my utensil drawer, it doesn’t matter. I even love the challenge when things don’t work and there is potential to rearrange and figure out an even better way. If we move this here, or do this instead, will that solve or improve the problem? I especially love the sweet satisfaction when the puzzle clicks and the pieces all work together; like when you fit that long, skinny piece into the awaiting slot and all the corresponding lines clear away. Tetris!

After completing the CliftonStrengths assessment together, it was clear that our team at Vantage Point has numerous people with solid “Strategic” strengths; but the “Arranger”, part of the “Execution” strengths category, was one that I uniquely held on the team. Gallup, the assessment administrators, describe the “Arranger” as this: “People exceptionally talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to determine how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.”  For me, this piece is a clear fit.

Moving into the role of Operations Manager at Vantage Point gave me the opportunity to execute that “Execution” strength on our team. In this role, I work across all our teams to connect the dots. I look at how our systems are organized and aim to instill a structure of consistency that allows for flexibility and growth. Every day is my organizational challenge as I dream up ways to make things more functional, more efficient, and look good all at the same time! My focus is on keeping our administrative and technology systems running smoothly, identifying where processes are clunky, work is being doubled up and sometimes aligning people’s skills with tasks needing to be done. I assess where workflows might be adjusted, resources redistributed, or blocks rotated to reduce stress, save time, and improve our services. Then I execute and manage that project to enhance the system.

Overall, I try to make our work easier, maybe more cost-effective, and hopefully in some way, improved. Sometimes, like reorganizing your pantry, it gets messier before it gets better; but ultimately, I strive for the same goal of a strategic, creative design that allows for organized execution. My goal is to help our organization stay organized by continually strategizing what could be rearranged to make a stronger fit. I hope to make it easier for our talented team to do what they do, better. As Operations Manager, I see it as my job to organize the blocks in such a way that the people doing the important work at Vantage Point feel that same sense of satisfaction and success when their long piece slides into the awaiting slot in the puzzle and clears all the lines. Tetris!

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Rachelle Smalldon

Rachelle loves working with not-for-profit organizations to make them more efficient, effective, and impactful. She has over 12 years experience supporting, training, and mentoring staff and volunteer leaders. Rachelle completed her undergrad in Communications Publication Design, and her MA in Educational Leadership. Her specialty is working with emerging leaders, with a wealth of experience supporting student and upcoming leaders to lead teams and excel in their roles. 

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