As many of you may know, Chebucto Community Net is a non-profit registered charity. As a charitable organization we provide a very unique service, namely affordable Internet access, support and training to a wide range of members in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) - some 3500 users and counting! So we're not a "traditional" charity, but act more as a network for members and community based projects that can use the web for online communications. Our being here can help make things happen that perhaps would have been difficult if not impossible to have been done before.
One of the challenges of many non-profit groups, and especially for volunteer based groups, is being able to access the Internet and use the many resources available there. To this end, Industry Canada has started a program called VolNet to improve volunteer groups' access to information technology. The program's goal is to offer Internet connectivity, including computer equipment, new information technologies, network support and Internet skills development to 10,000 voluntary organizations in Canada by March 31, 2001.
Recently, a "Halifax Regional Municipal VolNet Delivery Agency Group" was established to determine the number of volunteer organizations in the HRM region and identify candidates for VolNet. A Management Committee consisting of members from Chebucto Community Net, the Metro United Way, NovaKnowledge and the Volunteer Resource Centre will be supporting and guiding the assessment, implementation and evaluation phases of the VolNet program. The goal of this management team is to assist some 175 volunteer groups within the HRM area.
The VolNet program mirrors the Chebucto Community Net's own view that the non-profit sector makes up a significant part of our local economy. As such, access to online resources and various technological tools is critical to the growth of the non-profit sector and its ongoing contribution to our community. Such simple tools as email can greatly help various groups in such things as responding to questions, and providing information to a wide audience while volunteer group websites can begin to put across a volunteer group's message and make its resources available to the community-at-large, attract new members, make itself known to donors, and on and on.
Recently the Globe and Mail reported (Sept. 20th/99) research findings concerning non-profit groups in over 42 countries. It said that if all the resources of non-profit groups were put together as if it were a single country, it would be "the eighth-largest economy in the world". One in 20 workers are employed in the non-profit sector. In countries where the sector is particularily strong (such as the Netherlands and Israel), the ratio is one in eight workers. As well, they determined that in nine countries the non-profit sector was growing at four times the rate of the economy - 23% versus 6%! In Canada there is almost 80,000 registered charities and another 100,000 non-profit groups.
In the words of Frantz Fanon; "A community will evolve only when the people control their means of communication". Through such programs as VolNet, Chebucto Community Net will continue to convey this message to volunteer groups in the HRM area.
You may direct comments or questions about this article to: