Building More Than Communities
/ Author: Stuart Oakley
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Building More Than Communities

When something inspires you, share it with others

By Stuart Oakley, Marketing Coordinator

The binder arrived unceremoniously on my desk in early June. The front of the binder featured a full page promotional ad for CLAC’s Building Communities program followed by a chart listing all the nominated causes and page after page of nomination forms that members had sent in.

I cracked open the binder with the same unbridled enthusiasm as a student opening a text book on 19th century economics. I had been briefed on what my role was managing the project and soon found that there were a lot of moving parts to this program.

For each winner, I needed to arrange photos of cheque presentations, news releases for approval by the member and the cause, and cheques to be sent to the cause. Dealing with 15 winners at once proved to be the ultimate communication challenge.

But the process turned out to be quite interesting. Not every charity or cause nominated was obvious in terms of where it came from, or which organization, if any, it belonged to. I slowly went through the list assigning checkmarks for eligible causes and Xs for those ineligible.

I then entered all the eligible entries into a spreadsheet and used random number selection to choose winners in each of the three categories: $2,500, $1,500, $1,000. Each category can have up to five winners for a maximum of 15 winners in all.

That’s a lot of juggling.

In many instances, I needed to do a lot of follow up and provide flexibility for winners. The causes are nominated by CLAC members, many of whom live in one community but work in another.

In some cases, members work in provinces far from their homes. One of the $2,500 winners was a school in Newfoundland. The member who nominated it lives there but works in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Logistics prevented the usual cheque presentation photo op and in-person delivery of the cheque to the recipient.

As I continued to manage the project and keep everything on track, I began to see the impact that the Building Communities program has. And I began to experience a sense of pride in the small role that I was playing.

Such as when a local cause that looks after orphaned animals made the local newspaper. The article wasn’t just a regurgitation of our news release. The paper did a story on it and interviewed the CLAC representative involved and people from the cause.

Perhaps in the larger scheme of things, this was just a little bit of a good news story. But for this particular cause, struggling for every dime it gets, it was a huge deal. Unlike major charities with huge PR departments and budgets, many small local causes that do excellent work in their community do not get the attention they need and struggle to raise funds.

Which is why CLAC created the Building Communities program. Not only to provide a much-needed cash donation to a worthy cause, but to inspire others in the community to help too.

As I saw other winning causes featured in local community newspapers, my sense of pride grew deeper. It was a great outcome for these causes. And it was all because the good work they do in their communities inspired CLAC members to nominate them.

The binder still sits on my desk, even though it is no longer needed as the program winds down. It’s a powerful reminder to me of the good work that Building Communities does. Why hide something that inspires you?

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