President and CEO, Volunteer Canada
On this 20th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, Volunteer Canada is reflecting on the evolution of volunteering, to prepare us for the next 20 years of individual and corporate social responsibility.
Civil society calls for the braiding of a responsive government, a thriving business, and a vibrant non-profit sector. We have seen the branching out and braiding of sectors and people, of formal volunteering, organic movements, and informal helping of family, neighbours, friends, and strangers.
Unlike blending, braiding retains the unique characteristics of each strand and we have seen these sectors branch out and reach out to each other in new ways. The pandemic has accelerated these changes while illuminating social injustices, economic inequities, and environmental crises.
Businesses have branched out from charitable giving to social-cause marketing, and from employee volunteering to employee engagement. We have seen the braiding of employee volunteering, employee giving, and corporate giving into corporate community engagement strategies that facilitate both individual social responsibility (ISR) and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
In non-profit organizations, volunteer resource management has branched out from fundraising units or human resources departments, and then integrated into community engagement initiatives, braiding the engagement of stakeholders, donors, and volunteers together, recognizing a spectrum of social purpose expression.
In preparation for the next 20 years, we are challenging ourselves to branch out to seriously address colonialism, racism, and diversity, and to choose equity and justice over a (false) sense of stability and continuity. The evolving ways that volunteers connect and engage have been a catalyzing force for achieving our social purpose and creating change. We begin to braid ISR, CSR, formal and informal volunteering in all their glory.
Volunteer Canada convenes, connects and collaborates with all sectors to provide national leadership and expertise on volunteerism, building strong and connected communities to create a vibrant Canada.