One of my favourite annual events in Toronto is Timeraiser. The brainchild of Anil Patel, founder and executive director of Framework (an early MaRS client), the event is a smart and fun way of encouraging volunteering while celebrating local artists.

Anil has seen Timeraiser expand from its humble roots in Toronto’s Distillery District to take place in 12 cities across Canada. This powerful community movement has generated more than 114,000 volunteer hours, engaged over 7,500 Canadians to support a cause and invested over $650,000 in artists’ careers.

Here’s how it works: Community organizations pitch to be present at the Timeraiser event, where they will court potential volunteers to join their organizations. Corporations buy artwork from local artists who have submitted applications to the Timeraiser organizing team, then the artwork is assigned to the community organizations who have been accepted.

The event itself is run like a silent auction, with people in attendance vying to win the artwork by committing volunteer hours to the organizations. The person who has pledged the most volunteer hours wins the artwork and receives it once their time volunteering with the organization is complete.

Timeraiser in Toronto

Timeraiser is returning to Toronto on March 22 with the goal of raising 10,000 volunteer hours for local non-profit organizations. In celebration of its 10th year, the event has accelerated its “social spending” on the Toronto Timeraiser to 25%, spending over $17,500 on employing social enterprises and businesses whose social mandates support community development. This investment is part of Timeraiser’s social procurement strategy.

This year’s event is being hosted at Artscape Wychwood Barns, a community space that houses 26 artist live-work studios, 11 not-for-profit organizations and a community-run gallery. The catering will be provided by Paintbox Bistro, an organization whose social mandate is to provide training and career opportunities to residents of Regent Park.

In addition to its investment in social enterprise, this year’s Toronto Timeraiser has invested over $23,000 in the careers of emerging artists. Artists whose artwork is featured at Timeraiser are paid for their work, up to $1,000 per piece.

“We wanted to do something special for our 10th year and this type of local investment made the most sense to us,” explains Anil. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our local and national supporters, and we wanted to pay it forward in a meaningful way.”

Timeraiser’s 10th anniversary focus on social procurement is a new work of genius from an organization that just seems to go from strength to strength.

To find out more about Timeraiser, click here.

Geraldine Cahill

Geraldine is the Communications Manager for Social Innovation Generation, a group that addresses Canada’s social and ecological challenges by creating a culture of continuous social innovation. See more…