Volunteers truly make the world go ‘round. Those who freely give of their time, knowledge and expertise, without asking for anything in return, make a difference in their communities and in the lives of others in a way that simply cannot be measured.
According to Volunteer Canada, 12.7 million Canadians contribute close to two billion hours (General Social Survey – Giving, Volunteering and Participating, 2013). It is through their compassion and commitment that positive change happens. During National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, we honour those individuals.
Our Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) program, which connects local arts organizations and artists with volunteer lawyers, accountants, marketing, human resources and other professionals willing to lend their services pro bono, proves that the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Since the program launched less than a year ago, we have facilitated 28 volunteer matches and delivered 238 hours (worth $35,745) of pro bono services to the arts community. Our volunteer database for 2017 includes over 1,500 volunteer hours pledged, worth an estimated $235,800.
Earlier this month, 11 employees at Stantec (an architecture and engineering firm) in St. John’s came together to offer their support for the BVA program by offering a range of pro bono services including project management; financial management/accounting; proposal writing and revision; business writing; marketing/communications; brochure creation; strategic planning; community engagement; design; engineering and construction.
Lee Shinkle, Regional Business Development Leader at Stantec St. John’s (who attended the very first meeting of Business & Arts NL about four years ago), says it wasn’t hard to get staff to jump on board. The BVA program, he says, gives staff the chance to offer their skills in a new way.
“We were quite surprised at the level of uptake. You just never really know what it is that people want to do…But this is new, it’s exciting, it’s engaging. It offers a very, very different experience to our people. It allows people to use their specific expertise. So if you’re an electrical engineer, you can volunteer electrical engineering. If you’re a planner, you can volunteer planning,” he says.
“Staff found it interesting and exciting. And when staff finds something interesting and exciting, then that’s a really good sign to management that there’s something well worthwhile happening.”
Collectively, the Stantec team pledged up to 32 hours per month (384 hours per year) in support of local arts. Having just signed up last week, Shinkle says it’s still early days and while anybody has yet to request their services, Stantec is committed to being involved in the community.
“We’d love to have, and be seen to have, an impact that is meaningful. Ideally, what I’d like to see is staff would get involved on a volunteer basis with a particular something, and decide that they really like it, and would then proceed to get more involved on a personal level…that would be wonderful,” he says.
“So this is a perfect opportunity for people to be able to go out and test the waters and see if they can find something that they like. The commitment’s not huge initially, and if they find something that they like, then they can carry on with it.”
More information about the Business Volunteers for the Arts program can be found here.
Business & Arts NL would like to thank all of our BVA volunteers: Benson Buffett, Cal LeGrow, College of the North Atlantic, DC Design House, Diamond Design, Donovan Homes, Ernst and Young, ethree Consulting, Browne Fitzgerald Morgan & Avis, Fougere Menchenton Architecture, Grant Thornton, Grenfell Campus, Husky Energy, Johnson Inc., Jonathan Walsh, m5 Marketing Communications, McInnes Cooper, Memorial University, Newfoundland & Labrador, O’Dea Earle, Prime Creative, Robot Interactive + Marketing, Sandy Mercer Marketing Communications, Seafair Capital, Stantec, Steele Communications, Stewart McKelvey, Unpossible NL, Winsor Coombs, YMCA of NL, The Law Foundation of NL, and CPA NL.