Announcing the Calgary Volunteer Fair

For several years, I have thought that it would be so nice to be able to speak directly with employees and/or volunteers of different agencies at which I could volunteer. While I respect and appreciate the work done by organizations that list opportunities online, there have been times when I really didn’t even know what I wanted to do next.

I first thought of the idea of a volunteer fair perhaps two or three years ago. It seems like a no-brainer to hold a trade show-like event where there would be 150 exhibitors representing all manner of causes and I could find out more about them and what they do. And I could hear directly what kinds of help they need.

In my specific case, I have been interested in governance for quite a while. That is, joining a non-profit’s board of directors. While I could inquire about joining boards of organizations with which I’m currently involved, I found that to be daunting–scary, even. I’m involved with these organizations because I love what they do. What if I’m a terrible board member? What if I don’t even like it? I figured it made more sense to join a board for an organization whose work interested me, but with whom I didn’t currently have a volunteer relationship.

Did he volunteer for a board?

I never did join a board. Or even look much more into it. Finding out more about the many, many agencies, and their needs, was simply an enormous task and I was busy with the rest of my life.

In conversations with friends over the years, I’ve also heard from a number of them that they have some interest in volunteering, but don’t really know what they want to do or who they should go talk to. And by walking into someone’s office to find out more, they felt like that was already more commitment than they were ready to shoulder. In some cases I think that they were afraid that there’d be too much pressure to begin volunteering with someone they went to see. In most cases, though, it just felt too much like a job interview, and who has time to go and talk to 10 or 20 or 30 different non-profits.

This fair is meant to solve most or all of those challenges of finding new volunteer opportunities. Whether you are looking for something new, or are looking to find a non-profit you can love and invest your time in for the very first time, we think that this event will help you to explore many of your options. You’ll have a chance to meet face-to-face with dozens of organizations. In many cases, these will be the volunteer managers or directors themselves, and they’ll be able to give you detailed information about what kinds of things you can do to help them, and why they do what they do.

Our first fair

We’re hoping to host our first Calgary Volunteer Fair in autumn 2018. We’re currently focusing on the last half of September, but our event date will depend upon a number of factors, not all of which has yet been worked out. We’ll need to find an appropriate venue, determine just how we’re going to fund the event (we have a rough budget of about $6,500 to run the fair, a number that’s in line with other similar events in other cities), and deal with several other details before we can pick a date. As of this writing, we’re not yet even a legally-recognized non-profit society, though the paperwork has been filed. If we need to delay from our currently targeted time period in order to provide an excellent event, we’ll do that.

In the meantime, please feel free to sign up for our mailing lists. You can reach the right sign-up form from our front page. The links Information for Volunteers and Information for Exhibitors will bring you to an appropriate page, each of which will have more information as time goes on. At the bottom of both of those pages is a form from which you can sign up to hear more from our exhibitor mailing list or our volunteer mailing list. We promise that we won’t inundate you with e-mails, regardless of which you sign up for.

Thanks so much for your interest in the Calgary Volunteer Fair. We’re very excited to host what we believe will be an incredibly useful event for you.

– John Smiley – Founder of Calgary Volunteer Fair

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