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20NTC Session

2020: Digital Volunteer Frontier


It’s 3 a.m., and your social media notifications are blowing up. You might be helping people respond to a crisis. Maybe your awesome advocacy campaign has gone viral. Or, you’re facing a media scandal.

An online press release is not going to cut it. You need the capacity to respond to hundreds, even thousands of comments. Who can you call?

Digivols. Red Cross relies on digital volunteers, aka “digivols,” a trained network of ambassadors to triage social media and engage the community.

We will show you how to build a digivol team that can support you 24/7 from the comfort of their smartphones. You’ll learn how to empower volunteers in day-to-day social media monitoring, combatting misinformation, storytelling and fundraising. The best part? Digital volunteers can work for any size of organization.

Featuring hands-on tips from Sara Falconer, Director of Digital Communications for Canadian Red Cross, and Sithara Fernando, Fort McMurray evacuee, digivol, and creator of the Fernando Foundation for mental health.

Learning Outcomes

  • Build a digital volunteer program that supports communications, fundraising, social media, content creation and more
  • Empower and engage volunteers and staff, even if they're in many different locations
  • Avoid volunteer and staff burnout when dealing with a crisis (hint... it’s more than just coffee!)

Target Audience

Teams (big and small) who want to increase capacity and engage volunteers in new ways


Case StudyEngagementSocial MediaVolunteers


Sithara Fernando


Fernando Foundation For Mental Health

Sithara Fernando was a resident of Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada when a wildfire came through and decimated the town. In the process of fire recovery, Sithara turned her life around, started a mental health foundation and helps to foster strong volunteer relationships in organizations. Sithara is a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ2S+ community and a vocal representative for the POC community. Former Oil and Gas worker turned Environmental Science instructor, Sithara is doing her part to empower the next generation. Sithara is excited to share her experience as a digital volunteer.

Sara Falconer

Director, Digital Communications

Canadian Red Cross

Sara Falconer is the Director of Digital Communications for Canadian Red Cross, leading strategy and managing an awesome group of experts in social media, web, video and more. From the 2016 Alberta wildfires and beyond, her team continues to transform the use of social media in disaster response.

Sara planned and executed campaigns for some of the top global brands including WWF-Canada, Google and RBC.

She volunteers on the Public Engagement Committee of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, as well as Nunavut Stars Camp for youth in the Arctic.





March 26, 2020


1:45pm – 3:00pm



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