The Art of Volunteering

Slow - Marcia Harris

Slow – Marcia Harris

In November, I will become the proud new owner of the beautiful painting ‘Slow’ by Alberta artist Marcia Harris, all because I volunteered for 100 hrs this year!

Let me explain. In November 2013, I attended the 5th annual Edmonton Timeraiser, an innovative event with a unique approach to volunteer recruitment. Timeraiser is a volunteer fair and art auction combined into one fantastic night out – the twist is that participants bid on the artwork with volunteer hours, not money.

The event creates a win-win-win scenario:

  • Art is purchased for market value from local emerging artists, and put on display to a crowd of art lovers
  • Nonprofit organizations are able to meet with a captive audience of potential volunteers
  • Participants enjoy a great evening of art, company, and food as well as access to a wide range of volunteer opportunities. Winning a piece of art is an added bonus!

While this sounds wonderful, looking at Timeraiser simply in terms of dollars, it may beg the question of why volunteers are being paid so well (beautiful art at market value doesn’t come cheaply) when volunteering is supposed to come from the heart. But there is much more happening.

Through Timeraiser people are brought together around art and community, connecting with organizations in need of helping hands (and minds) while enjoying art they may never have seen otherwise. Through these connections an emerging artist may gain new admirers and an organization can share their cause with potential volunteers. Most participants will make a connection with an organization that leads to a rewarding experience, offering the volunteers knowledge, skills, community, and fulfillment. Participants might also win a piece of art that they may not have been able to afford in dollars but will enjoy as much as any art collector.

While this was the first year I won art, I have found volunteer opportunities through Timeraiser many times now! After placing a winning bid this year I started volunteering with two of the organizations I met at the event, helping to achieve the ultimate goal of Timeraiser – creating volunteer impact in my community. For me, the art piece was a catalyst. While I will certainly be thrilled to get it on my wall, the real benefit was in the value of volunteering, both personally and for my community.

So far, Timeraiser has been a huge success. They have opened the door to innovative volunteer recruitment, adding elements of community building, and appreciation for arts and culture, proving sometimes all it takes to make an impact is an innovative idea.

Edmonton’s 6th Timeraiser is on November 8th. Nonprofit applications are now closed, however tickets are still available – enjoy a fancy night out surrounded by art and awesome volunteer opportunities!

Sam Kriviak, Program Coordinator