Volunteerism: The new currency?

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Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Aine McGlynn, Managing Director of Framework/Timeraiser, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.

We connect people to causes and causes to people; whether through our Timeraiser events (where people bid their volunteer time, not their money, on artwork purchased from local artists) or our Technology for Social Change Workshops, we’re finding meaningful ways for all sorts of people to do good. Framework’s programming is utterly unique. Not only are we bringing together, onto one common stage, as many causes as our venues can handle, we also bring together groups of people who wouldn’t normally congregate. We ask all of them to focus on what they can contribute to their communities. 

Art displayed on easel.

I’d like to tell you about the lifecycle of a piece of Timeraiser art. It begins as an idea – a whisper, a flicker. It is motivated by pain, joy, love, grief.  Like all art. It takes shape in “the delicatist ear of the mind”. Over days, weeks, hours, it takes form on canvas, in clay or stone or metal.

It is submitted and selected for a Timeraiser. It is displayed. People stop and ponder it in between conversations with non-profits. Perhaps a story about the work of the Cerebral Palsy Association is illuminated in a tense, uneven brushstroke, or the viewer sees the work of Right to Play in the depiction of a small boy.

The bidding begins and the piece is won. The winner takes one last look at her art. She snaps a photo of it. She meets the artist and tells her how excited she is to have won. She promises she will do every one of her 100 hours of volunteerism, and that she will hang the artwork in a place of pride.

The piece is wrapped and labeled and delivered to a gleaming office space where it is received with care and excitement. This will be its home for 12 months: A Timeraiser sponsor will foster the art while the winner completes her pledge. Will it hang in the lobby? In the board room? It is affixed and admired by the hundreds of professionals and clients who pass it by over the next 12 months.

Woman holding art she won in auction. Meanwhile the artwinner has begun to volunteer. She looks at that photo she took of her art over and over again. It motivates and inspires her. But she’s also found new motivation.  When she arrives at her volunteer shift she is sometimes tired, worn out, stressed from work; but she leaves energized, uplifted and inspired to help out even more. A regular shift leads to a committee position, to a revamp of a program or budget or event, and in time the organization can’t imagine not having her around. Front line staff and clients alike are in turn inspired by how generous she has been with her time. Before long, she has logged 150% of her pledge and is telling her story to us at Timeraiser.

She arrives at the Timeraiser with her friends and her sister. It’s 8:00. Time for the Artwinner Spotlight. She hears the emcee describe her volunteer journey, and looks behind her to see some of the staff from the organization smiling and waving, cameras ready to snap her picture. She steps on stage and the artist she met a year ago is holding out their artwork to grasp.

A year later she’s still volunteering. The artwork hangs above the fireplace. It’s the first thing people see when they come over.

“Where did you get that?!” they ask.

“Timeraiser”.

 

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