Orientation Handbook

Orientation Handbook


Congratulations! You have been selected to plan your chapters orientation program for all volunteers! This manual outlines the framework for creating an effective and efficient orientation program. Make sure you check out this PowerPoint template and use it as a starting point.

Decide your orientation date and give volunteers notice
It is best to let your volunteers know two weeks in advance when your orientation will be taking place to be sure that everyone can attend. Provide an e-mail, as well as social media posting, that includes: Date, time, location, what they need to bring, what will be provided and a contact person in case of questions. Also be sure every single person RSVPs so you know who to expect and who will need to do orientation at a later date.

Delegate tasks
Assign involved volunteers tasks as soon as possible so you can work out all the kinks before the big day. This will likely include your executive team for delivering content and some members of your team for organizing logistics.

Start Preparing your Presentation
The first step in an orientation is to welcome the team and explain the agenda for the program. You will use a power point presentation for your program so that volunteers have a visual to follow during the presentation. Below are key pieces of information you should include in your presentation so volunteers get a full understanding of SOS at the National and Chapter level.

Get your volunteers acquainted with SOS
How it all began…
SOS founder, Greg Overholt, was a keen student who was leaving high school for Wilfred Laurier in 2004 and he was ready to take the next step in volunteering. He had done bake sales, group fundraising, etc. but was excited to do more in University, help more people and make his volunteer hours as meaningful as possible. When he got to university he was shocked to see that the volunteer opportunities were very similar to what he had done in high school. Greg and his fellow business and computer science colleagues decided that they wanted to help students on campus so they created the Business and Computing Student Association or ‘BUCS’. They offered to help students with their computer issues for a minimal donation. Unfortunately this service was not popular and the boys went back to the drawing board, asking themselves how can they help students at university succeed. BUCS decided they were going to offer students an opportunity to come speak with upper year students about uncertainties they were having in their computer science and business courses. Greg sat down with four students in the library and asked what did they not understand in their first year business class? One of the students said ‘everything’  and asked Greg to go through each chapter that they covered in lecture. From this experience the Exam-AID session was born and BUCS would soon change their name to Students Offering Support.

After two years of offering sessions the members of SOS decided that the money raised on campus needed to go somewhere meaningful. Being founded on the belief that everyone deserves equal access to education the team was able to connect with a not-for-profit in rural Nicaragua who needed a classroom refurbished so students could attend school in a safe and clean environment. Greg and his team were able to travel to Nicaragua to help put the finishing touches on the classroom the Nicaraguan community was building during the year. This trip was an eye-opening experience for the participants, and the organization. It became a reality  to the SOS team that Latin American communities could partner with SOS to recieive the funds they needed to build infrastructure that would assist in providing access to education in rural areas. In addition, SOS volunteers could travel to these communities and assist in the building project in order to experience first hand what their hard work was generating during the school year.

From 2004-2008 SOS grew substantially from making $5,550 their first year to $45,000 in their last year of university. Upon graduation Greg was struggling with what he was going to do after school because he only wanted to “do SOS all day”. In 2008 SOS became Greg’s full time job, he took it upon himself to replicate the Laurier chapter at universities across the country and generate funds for rural communities to build education based projects.  Since then, SOS has expanded to 29 chapters across the country and has raised $1.4 million to date!

The SOS mission
To empower students through social entrepreneurship supporting education both locally and internationally while fostering global citizenship.

History to Date

    • 2004: Student club launched at Wilfrid Laurier University, raised $140,000 from 2004-2008.
    • 2008: Launched (and accredited) as a national charity by founder, Greg Overholt, with 11 chapters across Canada.
    • 2011: With 17 university chapters in existence SOS was awarded the Special Citation in Social Entrepreneurship in E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year program.
    • 2012: 21 chapters across Canada raised $300,000 helping 15,000 students prepare for exams (8.54 feedback rating); this marked SOS’s $1,000,000th dollar raised since 2004, building 24 development projects in the summer with the help of  350 student trip participants.
    • 2013: 26 chapter across Canada raised $373,326.26, making 2013 the highest grossing year of revenue

Strategic Direction
By 2017 SOS seeks to help 50,000 students a year raise their marks, which equates to generating 1,000,000 to help raise roofs in Latin American communities.

Key Services
In order to provide the best possible support to students on campus SOS is always expanding ways to help raise marks. Services to date include:

    • Exam-AID session: a 3-hour group review session taught by a senior student who has previously taken the course and received an A or higher, as well as being a solid communicator. This option allows students to review all chapters covered on the test and realize where they need to concentrate their at home study. It also allows students to ask questions they feel silly asking their professor or TA.
    • Digital Exam-AIDs: Live Exam-AID, or previously recorded, sessions can be sold online for students who cannot attend the live session, or are looking for more help after the session is over. This option allows students to pause, skip, and rewind materials to get a better grasp of the material.
    • Mock Exams: SOS tutors and coordinators create a ‘mock exam’ for students. 1.5 hours of the session the students write the test in the same environment you would write an exam (no talking, no getting up, etc). The second 1.5 hours the tutor takes up the test question by question. This option allows students to feel what a real test situation is like as well as test their knowledge level before the actual test.
    • Study packages: When tutors are not available to offer a live session or a digital version the creation and sale of a study package can help students prepare for their test. Also, if i student cannot attend the session the package can be made available online following the session for sale.

Your Chapter
Be sure to include a slide on the history of your chapter and how you fit into the SOS organization. The rest of the presentation will focus largely on how your chapter runs. Slides to include but not limited to:

    • Chapter Structure
    • Chapter vision & goals for the year
    • Expectations of volunteers
    • Volunteer policies
    • Portal Walkthrough
    • Chapter meetings
    • Internal communication
      • How do you communicate with your volunteers?
      • This is also a good time to pass around a contact sheet
    • What departments you work in on campus & where are you looking to expand
    • Upcoming socials & events
    • Explain the outreach trip and gauge if people are interested

What you can expect from your year with SOS
Below are some of the benefits of volunteering with SOS, make sure you go over this with your volunteers so they can make the most of their experience!

    • Real world experience: As the job market becomes increasingly more difficult to find a job post graduation, SOS volunteers are one step ahead in having relative experience on their resumes that job seekers are looking for. It sets SOS volunteers apart from others applying for jobs.
    • Grad school: SOS looks amazing on grad school applications. A past SOS volunteer said his interviewer from the Ivey business school only asked about his experience with SOS (and he got in!)
    • References: SOS can act as a unique references for volunteers as opposed to an employment and personal reference.
    • Building a Network: SOS is a great way to build your network on campus and even in the professional world. With a community of 1,750 individuals it is an amazing dynamic organization to be a part of.
    • Meaningful, affordable travel experience: SOS trips are currently the most inexpensive volunteer trips on campus!
    • SOS Partners: SOS has multiple partners that are looking to make your lives a little easier!
      • The Princeton Review: As an SOS volunteer you can get 15% 25% or 40% off of any Princeton Review course. All you have to do is go on the portal and submit a summary of your involvement with SOS and you will receive a discount code.
      • Ernst and Young: If you are searching for a coop position or full time job with Ernst and Young let us know you are applying. We then send a reference directly to an E&Y recruiter for you.
      • Steam Whistle Brewery: Toronto’s renowned microbrewery generously provides beer for SOS events and socials.

Get to know each other
Play a name game, or a team building game to introduce the team to each other and to lighten the mode after a power point presentation

You’re done!!

That is all that you need to do in order to properly introduce your team to the organization and chapter. An orientation is vital to engage your volunteers and make them feel like they are a part of something. During the year your team will start getting busy with their own lives and school work, try to create another team event that re-engages the group and reminds them why they are volunteering with SOS.

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