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Social entrepreneurs spur volunteer spirit

Social entrepreneurs spur volunteer spirit

volinspire-volunteer-tech-platformVolinspire launches new platform to connect volunteers, non-profits and businesses 

Under a new social enterprise model, Volinspire’s interactive platform launched today in Kelowna, helping spur community connections among caring companies, non-profits and volunteers. Volinspire is one of the first community contribution companies (C3) in the B.C.

“The idea began with wanting to help young people find volunteer opportunities and connect them with great causes — I have two young daughters myself — and it grew into a platform that that helps connect our community overall,” says Volinspire's chief ideas officer (CIO) Sheldon Gardiner.

With support of local credit unions, the new platform has been embraced by the Kelowna’s non-profit sector, Kelowna Community Resources, the United Way and the City of Kelowna. Community partners include Interior Savings, Prospera Credit Union and Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union.

Credit Unions

Valley First, Prospera Credit Union and Interior Savings have partner with Volinspire CIO Sheldon Gardiner to share volunteer opportunities

“For charities and nonprofits, volunteers are the most important resource they have,” says Rob Peter, Kelowna Community Resources president. “Volinspire will greatly assist in reaching out to them, bringing individuals and organizations together to work collaboratively for the benefit of the community.” In 2010, Kelowna Community Resources reported that the economic impact of volunteer hours in the Central Okanagan was estimated at more than $95 million.

“With Volinspire, not only are your employees working and networking with others in the community, they are being recognized for doing so,” says Karen Hawes, Senior VP at Interior Savings. “Everyone is a winner and the best part of all is we become a stronger, more connected community – people helping people. I look forward to the journey that Interior Savings has embarked on with Volinspire.”

The Volinspire newsfeed, or wall, provides a community-based social platform to share inspiring stories while integrating with other social media.

“We’re excited to be one of the founding community partners of this exciting social platform that will connect important causes to caring individuals and organizations,” says Susan Byrom, senior manager, community investment at First West. “I believe that Volinspire has the breadth to elicit and support capacity building in our communities, provide employees with leadership opportunities and communicate the impact we, as a caring company, contributes on an ongoing basis.”

Volunteer Maya

High school student Maya Gay welcomes the online volunteer matching.

“Community is one of our core values at Prospera Credit Union and being able to share volunteer opportunities and activities on Volinspire will allow us to expand our impact and make an even bigger difference through increased engagement with our members, our employees and our communities,” says Erin Nesci, community and public relations manager.

Pioneering a new business model, Volinspire has been set up as a model that other caring companies could look to.

“Maximizing profit is the old way of doing business; I believe embedding a social purpose or developing partnerships with non-profits, is becoming the new way of doing business,” Gardiner says.

Volinspire is one of the first community contribution companies (C3) in the province registered under new BC legislation enacted in 2013. The hybrid corporation, which bridges the gap between a for-profit company and non-profit organization, is mandated to invest 60 per cent of profits back into the community.

Kelowna is the first of 100 cities Gardiner has targeted for Volinspire’s rollout. “Our goal is to have 100 companies that care in 100 different cities across Canada in the next three years. We think Kelowna is the perfect city to start with.”

Volunteers and non-profits can register for free and set up their profile at


Volinspire’s project manager Jeff Hoffart takes a look at the social interaction on Kelowna’s new volunteer engagement platform.


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