Timeraiser: A mash-up for volunteering

Toronto Timeraiser. Photo: Jessica Blaine Smith

Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I spend a lot of time trying to understand complex systems. So when I was confronted with the issue of volunteerism, it helped me develop a novel approach. The outcome was the Timeraiser mash-up. We held our seventh annual Toronto Timeraiser last Saturday March 20th.

So much richness comes from inviting 700+ people to mix and mingle with 35+ nonprofit and charities to find volunteer opportunities. Add three dozen works of art for which people bid their volunteer time in a silent art auction — now we have some sparks beginning to fly. (Artists are also pleased that they’ve been paid market value for their work). Then, after we’ve raised 10,000 volunteer hours, introduce ska-funk band Franklin’s Fault for a 70-minute set and we have a night that people will remember for a very long time. (Franklin’s Fault features MaRS’ very own Don Duval on guitar).

Timeraiser participant Annette Russett shared with us: “As a new Torontonian I am completely shocked and delightfully surprised by this event. I can’t wait to meet all of the representatives at the exhibits to see where I can contribute to my new community.”

The seventh Toronto Timeraiser this past Saturday, March 20th was a watershed evening for us. We added a social media contest and a live web stream of the event.

This online component raised lots of additional awareness across Canada beyond just the people who attended. And the winning entry could not be more appropriate. It was posted by Udai Srinivasan, a Schulich School of Business MBA candidate:

There once was a raiser of time, he could give an hour or he could give a dime. He met lots of peeps, and sent out a few tweets. He found a volunteer opportunity that was sublime. #timeraiser

To date the Timeraiser has raised over 61,000 hours for a variety of charities. We’ve invested $340,000 in the careers in emerging Canadian artists, engaged 5,500 Canadians to pick up a cause and supported 265 charities.