Jun 07

Timeraiser Continues To Boost Civic Engagement

by Victoria Peterson · 0 comments

On Thursday, June 17, hundreds of civic-minded Calgarians will descend upon Flames Central in hopes of boosting volunteerism throughout the city while engaging in the local art scene.

Timeraiser is charity event aimed at increasing community involvement through a unique format – a silent auction featuring local art that runs on bids of volunteer hours instead of money.

“I think the demographic, 20-30 something’s, genuinely want to get involved in their community.  They often just need that one

motivating factor,” said program manager Jennifer Grebeldinger.

“They also need it to be an engaging, fun experience.”

The art is purchased by selection committees across the country, paying up to $800 per piece of art. The idea behind paying for the auction art is that Timeraiser does not only provide valuable volunteer hours to a community but also supports the local art scene in every city that holds one of its events.

“With the help of our corporate partners, we are able to pay artists for their work and this support engages the vibrant, creative community.  It makes art accessible and fun for those who are just being introduced to the world of local art,” she said.

Non-profit and voluntary organizations participating in Timeraiser range from major charitable agencies like Big Brothers and Big Sisters to smaller localized charities such as Green Calgary. Selection committees don’t limit themselves to certain types of organizations, instead choosing organizations based on how diverse and engaging their volunteer opportunities are.

Timeraiser started in Toronto and after garnering considerable interest around the distinctive event, organizers decided to expand. The first city in the expansion was Calgary in 2006. Since its introduction five years ago, Calgary’s event has grown into a definite success.

“Over five years $90,000 has been paid to local artists, 12,000 volunteer hours are confirmed as to having been completed in Calgary by Timeraiser participants and over 700 young professionals have attended.”

Those numbers continue to grow every year in the city as more people find out about the event. Last year, tickets to Timeraiser were sold out three days before the event and organizers are anticipating the same demand this year.

Calgary was chosen as a viable city to host Timeraiser events due to the emergence of the city as being a youthful centre full of young professionals.

“The demographic that the Timeraiser draws, the 20-30 something crowd, has the lowest incidence of volunteerism than any other demographic group,” stated Grebeldinger. “Couple that with the fact that Calgary is such a young city, and this means that a large percentage of the citizen base is not volunteering.”

“Yet the skills and experience they can offer are tremendous for charitable groups.  They often have more time than money; so can make real contributions that are often inaccessible to agencies.”

After several successful years, the Timeraiser organizers tinkered with the format to maximize the efficiency of the event.

“We have over the years dropped the max bid from 250 hours in a year to 125 hours in a year.  This is because we have found that 125 hours over 12 months is a challenging but reasonable number of hours for busy young professionals to complete,” Grebeldinger said.

“We want people to finish their 12-month pledge and feel motivated to continue volunteering, not exhausted.  And we now always hear stories from art winners that they will stay on the board, or keep volunteering every week, etc.  Maxing the hours at 125 helps people figure out how to make volunteering part of their life.”

Grebeldinger is looking forward to what looks to be another successful event in Calgary and hopes to build upon the growing movement of civic involvement in the city.

“The night brings together a huge variety of people – the corporate world, the non-profit sector, the arts community, etc.  It ends up being a trendy but authentic night that appeals to everyone.

“We’re talking IT and HR professionals, lawyers, business managers, accountants, program managers, writers, graphic designers, etc. But beyond the specific skills that the volunteers offer, Timeraiser is often the starting point to a lifetime of civic engagement and volunteerism.  It gets the demographic engaged and invested in their community so that they want to be a part of making it a more livable, vibrant city.”

Location: Flames Central (219 8 Ave SW)

Date: Thursday, June 17

Time: Doors open at 7:00 PM

Cost: $20 per ticket at Timeraiser Calgary

Photo Credit: Jeremy Fokkens

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