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Conference offers volunteers valuable skills for free

Volunteers can gain valuable skills to help their non-profit organizations succeed at a free conference this week.

The Volunteer Conference is Friday (March 25) at the Beban Park Social Centre from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is co-hosted by Volunteer Nanaimo and the Oceanside Volunteer Association. Organizers aim to connect people, help them learn and feel recharged to tackle projects.

Sarah Schmidt, a consultant for Volunteer Nanaimo, said with recent grant cuts, it’s great to offer a free conference for people to learn.

“When you are volunteering, very often you don’t have the resources to pay and learn to become a better volunteer, especially in this economic climate,” said Schmidt.

She said its also an opportunity for organizations to network and lay the groundwork for future partnerships.

The conference is aimed at all levels of volunteers from board members, to front line staff to canvassers. Attendees can choose to attend two workshops from a selection of seven.

Workshop topics include social media marketing for non-profits, creating and building your own personal brand, ways to generate revenue for your non-profit organization, effective board governance, volunteer rights and responsibilities, stress management techniques through yoga and art and mentoring for success.

Two of the most popular workshops in demand are social media marketing, led by Garland Coulson,  and ways to generate revenue, facilitated by Jennifer Yee Fairweather.

Coulson is an e-business tutor who has taught online marketing since 1998. He said more non-profits are turning to social media to raise awareness and money.

“There is a viral effect of social mediums...the reach can be phenomenal and you don’t have to reach that many people,” said Coulson.

Yee Fairweather, who a certificate in fundraising management from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alta., said social media marketing and ways to generate new revenue work in tandem.

Organizations need to access people from different generations for successful fundraising projects and reaching the younger generation is often done online. Non-profits also need to establish a recognizable brand, she said.

The free conference was created through the Job Creation Partnership, an initiative of the Department of Housing and Social Development, and is funded by the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement.

Space is limited and pre-registration is required. People must sign up by Wednesday (March 23). For more information or to register please e-mail vn@volunteernanaimo.ca or call 250-758-7121.

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