New 'Timeraiser' concept sweeping Canada, including Kamloops, as agencies search for answers to 'dichotomy'

By: September Kuromi
Published: April 12, 2012

There are lots of dichotomies around us – but two in particular sparked the imagination of the Framework organization, a charity itself, to try and fill a gap.   The challenge? To take the traditional ‘fundraiser’ model and make it benefit the community, sponsors, local artists and be appealing to young professionals.

Many volunteer agencies comment that they have trouble reaching the younger generations of volunteers.  Interestingly, these generation XYZ people the agencies are having trouble connecting with, are the same people who are changing the face of employment by demanding CSR programs and opportunities to volunteer at their place of employment.  Why is there a gap here?  What is the best way to connect young professionals with causes they care about?

Meanwhile artists struggle to find ways to bring their work to the wider public, and are often asked to donate to silent auction fundraisers.  Although many artists are happy to support good causes and are happy for the exposure, it doesn’t directly help their business.  There should be a better way to involve artists in fundraising efforts?

Framework came up with the Timeraiser idea.  The event was first held in Toronto in 2003 and 31 Timeraisers have been held in cities across Canada since then. 

So how does it work?

It is part volunteer fair, part silent art auction and part night on the town. 

Throughout the evening, participants meet with different agencies and match their skills to agency needs. Once they have made indicated some interests, they are eligible to bid on artwork. The big twist is rather than bid money, they bid with volunteer hours.  The art is purchased from local, emerging artists beforehand with corporate sponsorship. 

Participants get to learn about the volunteer opportunities in Kamloops and have a chance to earn artwork in return for their volunteer commitment.  Winning bidders have a year to complete their hours before they get to take the art home – and in that time, the art is on display at corporate sponsor’s offices. 

Marg Durnin of Volunteer Kamloops saw this event as an excellent offering to their members.  Coincidentally, September Kuromi of Social Fire Consulting saw this is community minded, social event was a perfect fit her business’ vision.  Together they are hosting a Timeraiser“i” – an independently run Timeraiser.

They are still opportunities to be a corporate sponsor to facilitate the purchase of more art and becoming a supporter of this great event.

The event will be Wednesday, June 20th (the summer solstice) at the Cactus Jacks Saloon Nightclub.  Tickets are $20 and will go on sale May 22nd.  Employees of sponsor companies get to attend for free – so if this sounds like something your office would love to partake in, get your company to become a sponsor.

The Art of Volunteering

By: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Published: May 25, 2012

September Kuromi is still buying art — and, when Timeraiser holds its first event in Kamloops on Wednesday, June 20, she’s hoping to have about 17 works up for bids.

This isn’t, however, the usual write-a-cheque-at-the-end-of-the night auction.

Participants bid in hours they commit to volunteering at any of the agencies that are partnering with the project.

Kuromi said Timeraiser, which is based in Toronto and sees events happening throughout the country, is designed to raise awareness of the need for volunteering.

Twenty agencies are involved and will be at Cactus Jack’s Night Club on June 20 to provide information and sign up volunteers.

The agencies include: Kamloops International Summer School of Music (KISSM), Ridgeview Lodge, Kamloops Heritage Railway, Canadian Cancer Society, Kamloops Art Gallery, New Life Mission, BC SPCA Kamloops, Volunteer Kamloops, Big Little Science Centre Society, Overlander, Interior Health, RIH Afternoon Auxiliary, Family Tree Family Resource Centre, Big Brothers and Sisters, Operation Red Nose and the Kamloops Arts Council.

Each work has a maximum 1,200 hours that can be bid; if more than one person submits that commitment, a winner will be drawn from the names.

Once the hours are completed, the winner gets the art.

Works collected so far are by Angela Bandelli, Ann Diehl, Bob Clark, Karen Palmer, Keishia Treber, Leslie Bolin, Lynda Jones and Linda McRae.

Tickets are $20 for the evening and are available online here.

To read this article in Kamloops This Week, follow this link:

Making time for local art — and helping others

Imagine bidding on a piece of original art — but not needing to use money.

It’s the idea behind Timeraiser, a project held elsewhere in Canada and coming to Kamloops this year for the first time.

September Kuromi of Social Fire, which has partnered with Volunteer Kamloops on the event, said it’s a way to engage young professionals with the idea of volunteering for local agencies.

The focus is art and Kuromi has bought 10 pieces by local artists. She hopes to have about 19 by the time the event is held in June.

Volunteer Kamloops is contacting agencies it works with and will identify 20 to take part in the evening.

When it all comes together, there will be booths with representatives of the agencies there to talk about volunteer opportunities, music in the background, perhaps some food and the art waiting for the bidding to begin.

Once a person has completed an application to volunteer with an agency, they qualify to take part in the silent auction, bidding hours they’ll give to that agency.

At the end of the night, the ones with the most hours bid win the art — and the agencies have new volunteers.

The catch is they don’t get the art until their hours are completed.

Kuromi said she’s still working on a venue but hopes to hold it in the former Cactus Jack’s Saloon location on Seymour Street because the heritage aspect of the building fits with the support the event provides to local artists, entertainers and agencies.

She’s aiming for June 7 for the event.

Kuromi is still accepting submissions to buy from artists and is looking for other sponsors for the event.

To read this in Kamloops This Week, follow this link:

The Timeraiser: A volunteer fair with a creative twist

I thought it might fun to share the journey that led me to discovering the Timeraiser event – and then talk about what a cool and exciting event it will be.

Two years ago I was in a bit of a funk.  I had gone back to work in IT (in english that is a job in computers) after my third maternity leave.  I was feeling the weight of working almost full time and the pressure of a big family that always needed more attention.  One day in August I escaped from reality for a ½ hour at the Art We Are Café and grabbed a copy of this magazine.  I saw an ad in the directory for Musings and Mud Coaching and felt a connection.  This started a journey down a completely new road for me.

After a couple of months of coaching with Janet, some serendipitous events happened one after another.  During a long run, I started to visualize a perfect job for myself as a coordinator of employee volunteer programs and social events with a meaningful purpose - something no one I knew of did independently.  In September, I stumbled upon the Timeraiser organization’s website and jumped up and down with excitement at finding something SO cool – I had to bring this event to Kamloops.  In October, I ran a half-marathon.  In November, I lost my job of 9 years as a computer programmer.  I capped off the year by selling my first painting. 

Fast forward two years. I am the self-employed owner of Social Fire consulting.  I work mostly from home with way more time to support my three kids, my family and their myriad of needs.  I have sold a number of art commissions.  And I am in the middle of preparing Kamloops to host their first Timeraiser.

So what is a Timeraiser?

Imagine going to a cocktail party in a funky building with artwork from exciting, emerging artists hung around the room.   All this art was bought at market value in local galleries.  There are around 200 people in attendance, professionals of all ages.  There is live music, wine, beer and appetizers.
There are also representatives from 20 volunteer agencies setup around the room.  There are talking about their roles in the community and what kind of opportunities they have available for volunteers.  As the night progresses, a silent auction starts on the artwork.  But instead of bidding with money, participants bid with a commitment of volunteer hours!  The winning bidder will get to take home the artwork after they complete their volunteer hours.

The Timeraiser organization has hosted 29 events across Canada since developing the idea in 2002.  The amassed results are: 100,000 volunteer hours raised, $500,000 invested in the careers of emerging artists and 6034 Canadians connected to a cause they care about.  The goal of the 2012 Kamloops is to generate pledges of 3000 hours of volunteer time, invest $10,000 into the careers of Kamloops artists, encourage 300 people to connect with local causes and support 20 charities to find new volunteers.

The Kamloops organization committee is spearheaded by Volunteer Kamloops and Social Fire.  We have purchased 10 pieces of art from delighted artists and we are thankful to have NRI Distribution and Les Consenheim (Raymond James) for as leading sponsors.  The charity agencies are committing to showcase their cause, starting with Big Brothers and Sisters, The Family Tree Family Center and of course, Volunteer Kamloops.  Mark the date in your calendar: June 21 (to be confirmed), what a great way to celebrate the summer solstice.  Posters and media outlets will be advertising as we get closer to the date.  If you are interested in being a sponsor to help us purchase the art contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

To read this in Kamloops Momma magazine, follow this link and find the article on page 11:

What are CSR and ‘employee engagement’

There seem to be more buzz words around us than we could possibly absorb.  Webster recently added ginormous and smackdown to the dictionary.  How do you sift through the new concepts and decide what will bring you or your business values?

There are two business concepts that are gaining wide recognition that are worth your time to understand: corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement. I couldn't find the definition for either term in Webster's – so if you are familiar with these terms you are slightly ahead of the curve.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Perhaps the reason the term CSR doesn't appear in the dictionary is that it also known by a variety of other names: sustainable business, triple bottom line and corporate citizenship to name a few. 

Generally, CSR is understood to be the way firms integrate social, environmental and economic concerns into their values, culture, decision making, strategy and operations. Done in a transparent and accountable manner it helps establish better practices within a firm, create wealth and improve society. 

Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business school, sums up the essence and value of CSR. “There is no way to avoid paying serious attention to corporate citizenship: the costs of failing are simply too high.... There are countless win-win opportunities waiting to be discovered: every activity in a firm’s value chain overlaps in some way with social factors — everything from how you buy or procure to how you do your research — yet very few companies have thought about this.

“The goal is to leverage your company’s unique capabilities in supporting social causes, and improve your competitive context at the same time. The job of today’s leaders is to stop being defensive and start thinking systematically about corporate responsibility.”

What does this mean to small businesses who feel an urge to be more sustainable, but don't know where to start or get intimidated by the perceived costs? Merely understanding the concepts, terms and definitions related to social responsibility can make us see everyday processes through a new lens.

Putting a recycling box or compost bucket beside the garbage, modifying procurement processes to include relevant sustainable requirements or recognizing employees for community contributions are all small examples that are common. 

The ISO recently came out with a voluntary international standard: ISO 26000 Guidance for Social Responsibility.  The document provides definitions, principles and trends for seven core subjects and is useful for all types of organizations, regardless of their size.  The seven core subjects are: Community Involvement and Development, Human Rights, Labour Practices, The Environment, Fair Operating, Practices  Consumer Issues and Organizational Governance.

Reflecting on what you know about the subjects and considering how it can be applied to your sphere of influence is a good start. I have heard many excuses for why a business hasn't initiated CSR – but I haven't heard anyone express regret for actually doing it. 

Employee Engagement

I come from a corporate background, where employee engagement is regularly measured and is part of the water cooler chatter. The term is not as common in the small business sector, perhaps because employee engagement is generally higher at small companies. However, understanding the concept and how to cultivate it can reap your business many benefits.

Employee engagement describes an employees' emotional and intellectual commitment to their organization and its success. Engaged employees experience a compelling purpose and meaning in their work and give their complete effort to advance the organization's objectives. Alternatively, it can be defined as an employee's drive to use all their ingenuity and resources for the benefit of the company.

Having engaged employees results in higher productivity, better customer service and more innovations. Conversely, the most costly product of low engagement is high turnover.

The cost of replacing an employee is pegged between one and three times their annual salary depending on their skill level. The cost of a disgruntled employee servicing customers or being lazy at work is difficult to measure but is easy to imagine.

There are many factors that drive engagement and there are many resources out there to measure employee engagement and help raise it. Understanding what drives engagement is a complex science, but some of the factors are: involvement in decision making, access to appropriate training, the organization's concern for people's well being and respectful communication.

In a nutshell, raising employee engagement is achieved by doing whatever is required to make someone feel valued and involved in their role.

Together . . .

The two concepts defined here are distinct, but they are entwined in real operations. Effective CSR practices often raise employee engagement and conversely, firms with high engagement may have innovative CSR processes because the employee's care so much about their employer's ongoing success. 

Effectively managing CSR and employee engagement is proven to take your company operations to a higher level – in terms of financial success and long term sustainability.

Perhaps most importantly, these concepts aren't reserved for large corporations, small businesses can especially benefit from paying attention to them.

To read this in the Kamloops Daily News, follow this link: