Frequently Asked Questions
About Volunteering for Big Sisters or Study Buddy Program
What happens after I submit my volunteer application form?
For the Big Sisters and Study Buddy programs, we first process your application and contact your references. Once your references are complete, you will be placed with a caseworker. When the caseworker receives your completed Criminal Record Check, they will contact you to have you come in for a mandatory training session. They are held once or twice a month on weekday evenings. After successfully attending a training session, your caseworker will schedule a screening interview with you to determine suitability for the program and match. If you are accepted into the program, we will start looking for a Little Sister to match you with.
It can take up to 8 weeks for your application to be processed and references completed. The amount of time depends on how quickly your references get back to us. After these are received, it may take up to another 8 weeks to complete the training and interview process. This generally depends on your availability to attend a mandatory training session and have an interview with your caseworker
How is a match created between a Big Sister/Study Buddy and a Little Sister?
There are many factors our caseworkers consider when making a match. We consider many important factors such as location, interests, personality, area of need/expertise and life experience. We make every effort during the match-making process to ensure a successful match for all parties involved.
Can I volunteer in a city I don’t live in?
Yes! If you work or spend a lot of time in an area you don’t live in, we would love to match you in the area where we have a higher need of volunteers.
What areas in the Lower Mainland are in highest need of volunteers?
The following areas in the Lower Mainland are in most need of volunteer mentors:
- Big Sisters program: Surrey, Burnaby, New Westminster, North Vancouver and the Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody)
- Study Buddy program: Burnaby, Vancouver East and Tri-Cities
Can I volunteer for more than one program at a time?
We require that you complete the full commitment (1 year for Big Sisters Program and 6 months for Study Buddy Program) of the initial program that you apply for before volunteering in another program.
Can I obtain a reference letter for volunteering?
Letters of reference are provided at your caseworker’s discretion only after you have been matched as a volunteer in the program for a minimum of one year.
Do you have any activity ideas for me and my Little Sister?
We certainly do! Check out this list of 100 activity ideas for Bigs and Littles.
About Volunteering for Go Girls! Program
Is the curriculum provided for Go Girls! or do we have to provide it?
The curriculum is provided and mentors are encouraged to be flexible and add in appropriate activities and resources.
What schools/areas of the Lower Mainland is the program happening in?
Go Girls! runs at schools in Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Surrey. We run the program at many different schools in each district and they change every session. Once a volunteer is accepted as a Go Girls! mentor, she will be assigned a school based on her availability and location.
What days/times of the week does the program run?
The day and time that Go Girls! runs will vary by school. Usually, the program will run on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for 2 hours directly after school (typically 3PM to 5PM or 2:30PM to 4:30PM), once a week for a total of eight weeks. Find out more about the program and application deadlines here.
About Referring a Little Sister
Who can be a Little Sister?
Little Sisters are girls who could benefit from the support and friendship of a Big Sister mentor or Study Buddy tutor. Many Little Sisters suffer from low self-esteem, social isolation and a lack of enriching experiences as a result of challenging life circumstances such as poverty, family distress, abuse or loss. A supportive mentor can act as a reliable and caring friend who can be there to listen to them, have fun with them and help them navigate difficult times. Little Sisters applying to the Study Buddy program must also:
- Be able to demonstrate a need for academic support
- Be from a family that cannot access other one-to-one tutoring services due to financial constraints
Who can refer a girl to become a Little Sister?
Little Sisters can be referred by parents/guardians, social workers, school counsellors and other helping professionals.
Can I refer a girl to both the Big Sisters and Study Buddy program?
You can only refer a girl to one program. Once she has met the minimum time commitment for that program (Big Sisters one year, Study Buddy six months), she is welcome to switch programs based on an assessment of her needs. As a reminder, girls are only eligible for the Study Buddy program if they have academic need and are from a low-income family.
What happens after I have referred a girl to the Big Sisters or Study Buddy program?
The next step is for our office to process the Little Sister referral form. From there, the family/guardian and Little Sister will be scheduled for a mandatory screening interview and pre-match training session with their caseworker. Once accepted into our program, their caseworker will start looking for a Big Sister or Study Buddy match for them.
About Donating and Events
What impact does my donation have?
“The Mentoring Effect”, a recent and ground breaking study by The Boston Consulting Group found that every $1 invested in our programs generates, on average, $18 in hard dollar returns to society (increased spending and taxes on higher incomes and increased volunteering and donations).
Will I get a tax receipt for my donation?
Charitable Tax Receipts will be issued for eligible gifts of $25 or more. Tax Receipts will only be issued in accordance with Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Tax Receipting Guidelines. Tax receipts are sent by postal mail.
What is a Third Party Event?
These events or activities are organized by a non-affiliated group, company or individual where proceeds/donations are made to Big Sisters. Big Sisters has no financial responsibility for these events and little to no staff involvement, however, we support these third party events as much as possible to make them successful! Third party events can be just about anything: quiz or movie nights, BBQs, office raffle or 50/50 draw, art shows, benefit concerts, “wear jeans to work” days, the possibilities are endless. You may already have a work holiday party or summer event you want to add a philanthropic impact to, our Little Sisters would be grateful for your support. Here are some great Third Party Event Ideas & Tips!
What is Cause Marketing?
Cause-related marketing is a partnership between your company and Big Sisters which increases your sales and benefits our programs through the donation of full or partial product sales. Big Sisters can help you create a dynamic and interesting fundraising campaign that will help grow your customer base and expand your reach. Sometimes the easiest way to donate is to just carry on with business as usual!
Cause Marketing Ideas
- Retail or fast food establishments can donate a percentage of sales of a specific item for a certain time
- Restaurants feature a special menu item with an amount donated to Big Sisters each time that item is ordered
- Financial institutions can donate a percentage for every new client that signs up for a specific product
- Membership related companies can donate a certain amount for every new member
Is an Event Sponsorship valuable for my company?
A recent study conducted by Ipsos Reid and marketing agency TrojanOne ranked the value of Canada’s sponsorship properties – in other words, the organizations, events and causes that companies pay to be associated with. It found that among youth causes across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies ranked second as the most valuable sponsorship property based on the emotional connection of consumers to the cause. Researchers have found that, where price and quality are similar, the vast majority of people will switch to a brand that is associated with a good cause.
Where can I view the 2015 Annual Report?
You can view the 2015 annual report here
What is "The Big Sisters Luminary Award"?
The award’s intent is to celebrate and honour the tremendous value and far-reaching impact of mentorship in our professional and personal lives, by profiling an individual or couple each year that stands out in one or more of the following ways:
- Commitment to mentorship within their industry or through public service
- Founder or key contributor for a program or service that achieved significant results for girls and young women in their community
- Championed community involvement in support of girls and young women’s causes
Find out more about the award here!