June 2012 Newsletter


Welcome to the Endeavour June 2012 Newsletter. We are using a new newsletter format to better serve and inform our readers with on key issues such as, trends in the national and international non-profit sector, profile volunteers and career paths to help you succeed, and important Endeavour updates, events and changes. Here are just a few highlights:

Thanks for reading!

Non-profits as contributors to business trends

The evolutionary relationship between corporations and non-profits for the past thirty years was summarized in research by Imagine Canada. The ‘pioneering’ years between 1980 and 1995, corporations engaged in “checkbook philanthropy”, which morphed into structured partnerships and community investments towards the mid 90’s and early 2000’s. 2005 saw innovators, whose contributions to non-profit was part of their business strategy and design, challenging the traditionally thick boundaries between corporate and non-profit sectors. The focus of the newsletter is on lessons learned from the corporate sector on non-profits, with a focus on talent management and fostering knowledge sharing. Vice versa is also true, according to another feature in this newsletter.

Source: Imagine Canada

a) Engaging Talent

Volunteers are the backbone of the nonprofit sector, providing skills and knowledge to enhance the expertise of the paid staff. In Canada, there are currently a large number of volunteers and a sizable proportion of those volunteers tend to stay with the nonprofit of their choice for many years.

But there are dark clouds ahead in the world of volunteering. Specifically, it is projected that there will be a shortage of volunteers in the coming years. Currently, 25% of all volunteers account for 75% of the total volunteer hours worked. Of the 27% of Canadians that volunteer, a large portion is in the over-55 demographic. And of this cohort, the causes they volunteer for tend to be very traditional ones like churches, Rotary Club, Heart and Stroke, Canadian Cancer Society, and local hospitals.

There is a new, and harder to ‘manage’ type of volunteer emerging. Increasingly, volunteers don’t stay with a specific nonprofit for long periods, don’t or can’t donate time on a regular schedule and aren’t as willing to do menial tasks as their predecessors. Much of this change is driven by changes in society such as more stressful lives, rapidly changing careers, two income families, a greater need to self-actualize, and a greater tendency to ‘cycle through’ organizations more rapidly in search of a wider variety of experiences. There is also a wider variety and higher number of ways to be involved in ‘good causes’ than ever.

As a result, volunteers are frequently unreliable (e.g., not completing tasks on time or not ‘showing up’ due to work pressures) and are hard to retain for extended periods of time. The effective use of volunteers, their recruitment and retention poses big challenges.

So what’s the solution? I don’t pretend to have the answers but here are some thoughts and recommendations.

First, forget the phrase “recruitment, management and retention” when referring to volunteers. Those are tasks, not outcomes. Replace that phrase with “volunteer engagement.” This is such an important distinction because it is only through engaging the hearts, ‘guts’ and minds of volunteers that they will be fully effective and committed. Research says that “Contributing to a good cause” is the most commonly cited reason people volunteer at nonprofits. But the same research has shown that the ‘cause’ is a relatively small motivator for volunteers joining and staying with nonprofits. Yet most nonprofits base their volunteer recruitment strategy almost entirely on the “supporting a good cause” argument.

b) Profiting from non-profits

Non-profit organizations are often told they should learn from business, but the reverse is also true, as expressed in a recent article from The Economist magazine. Non-profits often have enviable characteristics such as a flat management structure, employees motivated by passion instead of profit, and new employees are quickly given real responsibility, which is highly attractive to younger generations. Read more from The Economist here.

c) Using Knowledge Sharing in the Non-Profit Sector

Knowledge retention and sharing can be a significant challenge for organizations in the non-profit sector. Due to variability in volunteer retention and the scarcity of resources for volunteer and business process development, the approach of seeking external ideas from people in a variety of industries, disciplines, and contexts (Davidson & Billington, 2010) can prove to be invaluable as well as prudent for non-profits. Full blog post here


a) Demystifying the Work of a Consultant at Endeavour

Article by Frances Policarpio inspired by an interview with Sina Amiri, Engagement Manager at Endeavour Consulting

Have you ever wondered why there are so many books written about consulting? It’s most likely because no one really knows what a consultant does. Here at Endeavour we like to make it quick and simple for everyone.

I had the great privilege of speaking with Sina Amiri who helped me unlock the work life of a consultant as it relates to their consulting engagements. Working at Cirrus Consulting Group and having started his own business two years ago, Amiri Strategies, Sina adds more to his repertoire by working with Endeavour as one of their Engagement Managers (EM).

What does an Endeavour EM actually do?

While everyone else loves their R&R, consultants at Endeavour look for their D&D. An EM is responsible for “D”eveloping the team and “D”elivering high quality results to clients.

What does a project life cycle look like?

Project life cycle is a fancy phrase for identifying a consultant’s work with a client. At Endeavour these typically last for six months – and what a rollercoaster it is! Check out the EM monthly checklist below:

  • Month One:
    • Meet the team – Almost as awkward as “meeting the parents” for the first time, Sina suggests developing a team charter at the beginning of the term to manage expectations, develop team culture, and show procedural fairness.
    • Fact-finding – Likely to be the most gruelling two weeks of the cycle, don’t drink the sea but instead get information that will lead you to find the root cause of the problem.
    • Meet the client – Dun dun dun dun! This is actually the perfect time to verify information and clarify questions. According to Sina, great listeners make great consultants so teams take this time to really understand the needs of their client.
  • Month Two:
    • Execute the Statement of Work – The Statement of Work is, well, a statement of the work that’s going to be done and by this point in time all that’s left is to execute.
    • Endeavour training sessions – Endeavour hosts training sessions with their subject matter experts throughout the project life cycle to ensure that volunteers are learning as much as they can from their experience and also delivering quality work for the client.
    • Keep the client in the loop!
  • Month Three:
    • Mid-term review – Want to know how you’re doing so far? The mid-term review will allow you to share your progress internally and get feedback on your work. Phew!
    • Keep the client in the loop!
  • Month Four:
    • Start thinking about final presentation – Yes, it is coming. By this point in time, you can almost the taste the excitement!
    • Keep the client in the loop!
  • Month Five:
    • Final training session – This is the last chance to get the Endeavour subject matter experts to answer all your burning questions.
    • Keep the client in the loop!
  • Month Six:
    • Final review session – Similar to the mid-term review, Endeavour supports each team by providing feedback on the over-all presentation right before the final meeting with the client.
    • Close-out presentation – This is the day we’ve all been waiting for!
  • Life after Project Life:
    • Post-engagement – Sina likes to revise the team recommendation one more time based on client feedback from the close-out presentation to show commitment and passion to the client.
    • Assessment – Even after Endeavour’s time with clients, the Group still likes to check in every so often to track progress and development. Talk about true friendship!

Create your own volunteer story! For a full description of the Engagement Manager role, and other volunteer positions, please visit: http://www.endeavourvolunteer.ca/volunteer/

If you are interested in applying for the role of Engagement Manager, please visit http://www.endeavourvolunteer.ca/volunteer/get-involved/consulting-opportunities/apply-now/

Endeavour News


Endeavour is making big waves to make a difference in the non-profit sector. Join us on July 12th @ 7 p.m. at the Deaf Culture Center, in the Toronto distillery district, to celebrate our 5th anniversary and engage in a Panel Discussion titled: Building Relations Between Corporations and Non-Profits, featuring Lindsay Glassco, CEO and President of Special Olympics Canada, Helen Seibel, Astra Zeneca, and Danielle Restivo, Manager at LinkedIn Canada and with the LinkedIn Foundation. With your continuing support, we can bring about positive impact to our community. Read More >

Annual Report

Every year, we face new challenges and achieve new heights. It brings us even more joy to share it with you! Read more about our milestones in 2011, including Endeavour providing nearly $1 million in consulting services to GTA non-profits! . Read More >

New Website Redesign

Endeavour launches new website! As of June 13th, Endeavour has a fresh new look, designed to be more intuitive and to provide a better overall user experience. Check it out at www.endeavourvolunteer.ca and see for yourself!

Now accepting Client Applications

Are you a non-profit organization that can’t afford paid management consulting services? Do you need help with strategic plan, business plan, marketing strategy, or volunteer management? Endeavour Volunteer Consulting for Non-profits offers free management advice to non-profit organizations and is currently accepting applications until July 8th, 2012. For more information, including full listing of services and eligibility requirements, visit: http://www.endeavourvolunteer.ca/non-profit/become-a-client/apply-now/

Now accepting Volunteer Applications

Join an exciting and talented consulting team of university students, young, as well as seasoned professionals to make a big impact on a local non-profit! Volunteer roles such as Consultant and Engagement Manager are now being accepted for our next engagement cycle starting in the fall. For more information, including FAQ’s, please click here