Toronto Free-Net has no paid staff. It is run entirely by volunteers.
Our members all contribute to our common success, each according to their
ability and their available time. Volunteering is one way to participate.
An alternative, less formal way is to
spread the word.
When volunteering, you can commit to doing as little or as much
as you want. Volunteering at your freenet is a great way to
help add services which you would like to use yourself. TFN is
also a gathering place, where people share knowledge, gain experience,
and make friends. Join the fun —
contact TFN for a volunteer interview!
Here are just some of the things that volunteers do:
- Keep office hours: greet and assist members who come to the office.
- Payment processing: process members' payments, update their access
level and contact info.
- Tech support: answer phone calls for technical support from members.
- Software development: write custom software for the servers and for
- Software deployment: select, install, configure, and maintain
Free Software applications used by members on the servers.
- Market research: we may be non-profit but we provide services
for which there are commercial competitors. Keep track of what
we do better than them and what we must improve to stay competitive.
- Supplier research: watch the market for parts and services which we
use, to ensure that we get the best deal.
- Telecom regulatory monitoring: monitor the CRTC, its proceedings
and decisions, and competitor's maneuvering. Plan our
strategy and formulate our responses to the CRTC.
- Corporate regulatory monitoring: monitor changes in government
regulations affecting our corporation. Propose and implement
changes to keep us in compliance.
- Legal: Review contracts offered by suppliers. Propose updates
to TFN's acceptable use rules and to agreements between TFN and its
members that are fair and that balance the needs of the individual
against the corporate interest of all members.
Should it ever become necessary, fight for TFN in court!
- Marketing: Think up ways to reach new members. Analyze
- Advertising: develop materials to communicate our message
(posters, brochures, radio messages, YouTube messages, etc).
- R&D: research new services and technologies into which TFN
- Hardware building: build computers from parts.
- Systems administration: administer the existing servers;
investigate problems; respond to emergencies.
- Systems development: research and test solutions to long-standing
technical problems on the servers.
- Web content: maintain this website.
- Bookkeeping: collate, maintain, and distribute data on member payments
received and on bills paid.
- Accounting: produce annual financial statements; track income and
expenses; file taxes. Produce financial projections and other
reports to support organizational planning.
- Auditing: independently audit our annual financial statements.
- Payables: keep track of our bills and prepare cheques to suppliers.
- Collections: occasionally, members have trouble making their
payments. When that happens, we contact them to try to find a way
to help them with their Internet needs without breaking the bank!
- Volunteer coordination: match volunteers to tasks which they are
likely to enjoy and which align with their personal growth goals.
Track progress to ensure that tasks are getting done.
Plead, goad, hound, or else re-assign tasks if necessary!
Praise publicly, criticize privately and constructively,
in fair and appropriate doses.
Monitor volunteer satisfaction, boost morale, re-assign volunteers
or send them on "vacation" when they need a change.
Ensure that volunteers are neither left idle nor overwhelmed to the
point of quitting. Ensure that each volunteer's ongoing
learning and growth isn't neglected. Plan for future skill
needs and pursue redundancy in the volunteer corps.
Prevent work duplication.
Keep volunteers focused on work that is needed.
Help volunteers coordinate with each other.
Keep the peace between volunteers.
This task requires scheduling, problem-solving, and planning skills,
self-motivation, good judgement, tact, an understanding of human nature,
political shrewdness, and perseverance in the face of disappointment.
- Locate members who have moved, and update their contact information
(so that we can comply with the legal requirement to notify them of
- Shameless solicitation: contact members who haven't used TFN in a
long time, learn their needs, inform them of TFN's current services
and volunteer needs!
- Sales: answer questions from people who are thinking of becoming
members. Answer questions from members about TFN services they
- Hand-holding: help people who have difficulty filling out
the membership form.
- Help pages: write documentation to teach members how to use the
- Teaching: prepare and present topical lectures and ongoing
introductory courses on computer and Internet use.
- Event planning: organize social events to foster community between
- Affiliate relations: stay in touch with other freenets and with other
organizations that have goals similar to ours. Seek ways to
cooperate, to avoid effort duplication, and to share knowledge
- Dusting & sweeping: help keep the office clean!
- Street postering.
- Member communications: produce reports of TFN activities to the members.
- Fund-raising: think up ways to raise money for new projects.
- Grants: identify and apply for appropriate grants.
NB: The downloadable posters & leaflets have moved to the
spread the word page.