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Tag Archives: charity

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to charity.

Non-Profits and Charities Can Use Your Tech Skills

Non-Profits and Charities Can Use Your Tech Skills

Check on your favourite charities. They’re not ok.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged through the world’s economy. People across the country, maybe even you, have been out of work for months, struggling to make ends meet. The impact that’s having on charities and non-profit organizations is exponential. Not only does the struggling economy mean many of their services are in higher demand than ever, but fewer people have the budget to donate. And, to make matters worse, physical distancing regulations have shut down critical fundraising activities.

Today is giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday that’s designated for giving back to your community. If you are part of the group who can give extra cash to a cause today, realistically, there’s only so much you have available to give. There’s no way you can help everyone. When you find yourself wanting to do more, the other precious commodity all charities can use is time. And your unique skills are a bonus!

Although limited, most of the large, high-profile charities we hear about have departments of professionals, much like businesses. While they can always use extra help, even more shallow in resources are the small groups, non-profits and charities in your community. Interest groups, service clubs, sports teams, fundraising events, school committees — they’re all run by a few volunteers who are doing their best to keep their heads above water. And as amazing as those volunteers are, they often lack in the tech skills that come naturally to you.

As noted, most of these organizations are looking for innovative ways to fundraise as well as find efficiencies to cut costs. The solution to both of these problems in many cases is technology, but they simply don’t have the means or experience to implement it. They’re in need of a digital transformation, albeit quite minor. Enter the IT professional!

If you’re an IT contractor, we can guarantee there’s a committee of volunteers nearby who are working towards a goal that matches your values and they would love to hear from you. You can bring more to the table than you might realize:

  • Your Core Skills: Clients are willing to pay big bucks for your skills and with good reason. They’re a valuable commodity. They might also be exactly what a non-profit needs to help them launch a fundraising initiative or move their organization to the next level. That said, it’s rare the local mosque is looking for a C# Developer with experience working with network protocols and Rabbit Q.
  • Your Other Tech Abilities: You know how your neighbour assumes you can’t wait to fix his computer because you can work in IT? Charities would love for you to do that as well. Although not your core trade, your background has given you basic skills in setting up networks, upgrading software, troubleshooting email, and maintaining websites. That same neighbour who can’t figure out how to “open up the internet” is the same person running the local hockey club’s database. Please give them a hand.
  • Project Management: You might not have a PMP certification, but if you work in IT, you have an understanding of project management, and that knowledge is extremely transferrable and in-demand. Not just IT projects, but planning events, organizing fundraisers, and renovations all require a strong project leader. Your existing experience will help a community group get to where they need to be (on time, on budget), and, if Project Management is on your career roadmap, the gained experience will help you get there sooner.
  • Business: As an independent contractor you run a business. You know the ins and outs of meetings, contracts, accounting software, invoicing, taxes… or you at least know the right people who can help you. Often, volunteer organizations are packed with individuals who can run the operations but are less experienced on the business side of things.
  • Partnerships: Your contracting career has also resulted in a network of other brilliant people and organizations. After a couple conversations with a charity’s leaders, you’ll quickly realize that another colleague might donate services, a favourite recruiter could help them fill a role, or a past client would love the sponsorship opportunity. You can help the get the organization to better places with just a couple phone calls!

Volunteering comes with so many benefits! It will help build your career, do amazing things for your mental health and, of course, create a stronger community. For an added tax bonus, although charities can’t always give a tax receipt for your donated hours, you can choose to invoice your time, let them pay you, and then donate the earnings back. (Be sure to check with the charity that they can actually issue tax receipts first.)

So, if you have even just a few extra hours in the coming months, talk to a few neighbours and have a look around your community. You might be surprised at how many people would love to have you!

Life-Long Lessons Learned from Boxing

 

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Fight to End Cancer LogoThis post is a follow-up to the one I had published back in February describing an upcoming event that I was fortunate enough to be selected for – the annual Fight to End Cancer.  As I mentioned back in February, starting this adventure was about as far outside of my comfort zone as one could get.  In six short weeks I will be stepping into a boxing ring at a Black Tie gala in front of over 500 people to compete in an Olympic style boxing match.

When I look back at my previous post, it’s hard to believe it has been only two months because those two months have taught me more than I ever thought possible.

If there is one thing I want to share from this, it’s the recommendation to everyone out there that no matter how old or how ‘stuck in your ways’ you feel, you will benefit greatly from committing to something that requires physical and mental endurance.  Here are some of the key lessons that I’ve learned over the past eight weeks:

1 – HARD WORK PAYS OFF!  You must commit yourself wholeheartedly to an event like this, whether it’s a competition, a tournament, a marathon or a sprint.  There will be days when the last thing you feel like doing is training, but those tend to be the days when you leave the gym feeling like you are on top of the world.  No one will put in the hard work for you, you have to just DO IT!

2 – FOCUS IS EVERYTHING!  It took our coaches awhile to drill this into our heads.  While there will always be time for socializing, chatting, and sharing a few laughs, the boxing ring is not that place!  When you are actively training and/or sparring, it just takes one moment of your mind drifting to get clobbered.  One well placed left hook that you didn’t see coming is a quick reminder to keep your head in the game – at ALL times!  I have found that this has translated to other areas of my life and hope it’s something that sticks.

3 – POSITIVITY IS KEY!  When we started this adventure, we were told ‘you will have your best days and you will have your worst days leading up to this fight.’  There are definitely days when you feel overwhelmed with information and just plain exhausted.  Keeping the cause (fighting cancer) and the end goal (getting into the ring!) in mind is key to getting through the tough training days.

I encourage everyone reading this post to challenge themselves to do something that you’ve always wanted to do or never thought you would – and if there is a charitable focus attached to it, all the better.  Our team is on track to meet our goal this year, which will mean over $1 MILLION has been raised in donations by this event alone for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation – one of the top 5 cancer research hospitals in the world.  As rewarding as this has been for me personally, the big picture is even better.

You can also watch the following news segment from Global News to find out more about the Fight to End Cancer and my inspiration behind wanting to participate in this amazing event.

‘Literally’ Fighting to End Cancer

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

Fight to End Cancer LogoAs a long tenured employee of Eagle, I have had the good fortune of attending an annual event that we have been supporting since 2012. The annual Fight to End Cancer is a white-collar boxing event where 10 non-boxing professionals enter into an intense 6 month training program and then compete in an Olympic style match at a black tie gala at the Old Mill in Toronto.

Each year that I attended I contemplated throwing my name into the hat because I was so incredibly inspired by the grit, courage and commitment that each fighter displayed. But the fact that I have not participated in sports since grade school and literally never stepped into a gym held me back. It wasn’t until I attended last year’s gala, a short 6 months after losing my mother to pancreatic cancer, that I decided to apply.

I have been taking conditioning classes for the past 4 months and have now started technical training. The time commitment is significant and the training intense — I have pushed myself farther physically and mentally than I would have thought possible.

The experience so far has been incredible, but we have a long way to go. Training will be ramping up significantly and while everything feels very overwhelming right now, I’m grateful for Eagle’s support and the ongoing advice shared by our Chairman Kevin Dee who fought in a similar match in 2011, and my boss Brendhan Malone, who fought in 2014.

The Fight to End Cancer has raised over $750,000 to date, and if each of the fighters this year meet their $20,000 fundraising goal, we will hit $1M. All funds from the event go directly to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, one of the largest cancer centres in the world.

Please consider donating to this very worthy cause and wish me luck on June 2nd!

Alison Turnbull - Fight Training

Independent Contractors Need to Volunteer

Here’s Why IT Professionals Need to Volunteer in the Gig Economy

Here's Why All Independent Contractors Need to Consider Volunteer WorkGiving back to the community is an activity that every citizen should do, at whatever capacity they can. In some cases that involves donating money, but it should also include donating your time. In addition to the core functions of local community groups and charities, independent contractors and freelancers are sometimes asked to volunteer their own professional services. Regardless of what kind of work you do, just a few hours of free work can go a long way in helping a charity or non-profit organization get closer to accomplishing their goals. In addition, there are countless benefits and rewards that can come to you, both personally and professionally.

What Do You Gain from Volunteering?

As selfish as it may feel, every volunteer gets personal gain from putting time into their community, whether or not they recognize it. For example:

  • Being involved and doing the right thing brings personal satisfaction.
  • Building a better community not only is great for your family but can raise the value of a home.
  • It’s an opportunity to meet the “who’s who” in your area, including business owners and politicians.
  • It brings new challenges when you feel life is getting dull.
  • The change in routine helps to get away from regular life stresses and recharge your batteries.
  • You can make new friends and improve your social life.
  • It provides an overall perspective on what you have in life, which can make you happier.

How Does Volunteering Help Your Business?

Beyond the personal benefits of volunteering is the professional value that can also come with it. Independent contractors can gain significant traction for their business, by simply finding a cause they love and putting in a few extra hours.

  • Networking: Industry events get bland and you start to only see the same people. Volunteering opens you up to a whole new set of professionals from different backgrounds and industries.
  • References: Speaking of the people you meet, some of them will make valuable character references and, in some circumstances, can speak to your technical skills as well.
  • Maintain Unused Skills: You know that old technology that you barely use anymore because all of your clients have moved on? A charity or non-profit may still be using it. When you volunteer to help with that piece, you keep yourself fresh in case it ever comes up again with clients.
  • Work on New Skills Too: The organization where you give time may also be using a tool you haven’t yet tried or one for which you need to build experience before you can sell it. This provides a win-win scenario for both of you!
  • Explore Something New: Perhaps you’ve been considering a career change or thinking of changing industries all together. Volunteering is a simple way to test the waters while helping others at the same time.

From helping the less fortunate to caring for animals, everybody can find an organization that speaks to them. As an added bonus to contributions you make in your community, you will improve your life, both personally and professionally. If you’re not volunteering yet, what are you waiting for?