InterGroup Consultants Inc. “adopts” a Non-Profit and Volunteer Manitoba Benefits

  • February 11, 2021

    Posted by: Dawn Bourbonnais

    Shortly after the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, InterGroup Consultants Ltd. began brainstorming about how they could offer services to local organizations experiencing difficulties adapting to the pandemic. Organizations have been severely affected by the pandemic, including cuts to funding and a reduction in their face-to-face volunteer network. InterGroup staff members are involved with a variety of non-profits and they felt they had the skills to remotely support organizations facing hardships, so a decision was made to "Adopt a Non-profit".

    "It was a unique opportunity to provide pro bono support to a local non-profit and while supporting the growth of our staff," InterGroup said.

    InterGroup reached out to Volunteer Manitoba to get a better understanding of the needs of non-profit organizations during the initial stages of pandemic. Through discussions it was determined that facilitated discussions on what it looks like to service non-profits now and post pandemic would be most valuable. This effort would bring together numerous groups virtually to support each other in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as opposed to merely helping one.

    Through facilitated online discussions over the course of four weeks in the summer of 2020, InterGroup and Volunteer Manitoba brought together managers and volunteers from various organizations including the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Special Olympics Manitoba, Thrive Thrift Shop, and more. Volunteer managers were highly aware of what volunteering looked like pre-pandemic and of the issues and gaps that have occurred within their organizations since the provincially mandated shut-down of non-essential services.

    During these meetings, participants were able to express their concern largely centered around the inability to return to their previous state of face-to-face volunteering. It was commonly noted that the majority of volunteers are 65 and over and therefore a vulnerable population for COVID-19 exposure. Due to this increased risk to this segment of volunteers, organizations had seen a drastic decrease in volunteer numbers.

    Lessons learned during the weekly sessions included various approaches to reopening of non-profits and how to potentially modify services going forward. A common thread included the understanding that volunteering will not move forward in the same way it did in the past, the use of personal protective equipment, virtual volunteering, and the increased awareness of the comfort of the volunteers will be front and centre.

    Additional learnings included the skill development for InterGroup's staff. "It was a great opportunity to get more comfortable with our online facilitation skills, not only with engaging a group of people virtually but also ensuring they feel comfortable and find value in the online platforms we use," InterGroup noted.

    As the pandemic continues, InterGroup and Volunteer Manitoba hope for more collaboration between the private and non-profit sectors, both noting it is a great opportunity to prepare for COVID-19 phasing, support real time skill development, and build a greater sense of community through connection and relationship building.

    "Working with Volunteer Manitoba has and continues to be a wonderful experience. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic it was fulfilling to be able to help non-profit groups to connect and discuss fears, challenges, and opportunities. The coordinated discussions via video teleconference seemed to help people feel connected and participants noted they looked forward to the weekly sessions. We are very much looking forward to continuing our work with Volunteer Manitoba to help support their priority planning process as they look forward to supporting non-profits through the COVID-19 pandemic," Christina Blouw from Intergroup notes.

    Download the Report: Volunteering during the COVID-19 Pandemic


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