In honour of National Volunteer Week we want to highlight the different types of assets that individuals, companies, family foundations and non-profit organizations bring to the charitable sector. Too often people or agencies are labeled by the one thing that they offer, however, when mapping out the different ways people can contribute to the growth of an organization, the advancement of a project, or the scaling of a solution we find that there is more than meets the eye.

Time, Talent, Treasures and Ties: The assets we all have

We recently held a workshop on Philanthropy 3.0 – Social Impact Lab for nine family foundations in Calgary. During the lab we highlight the different assets that the “strange bedfellows” bring to the table. These assets are broken down into the nine different levers that can be pulled or pushed throughout the problem architecture, design process and implementation phases of the solution.

To help you get started on identifying what assets you bring to the table ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If I could do X for [my company/charity/foundation/issue] it would be great because Y? List a few things that you could do that would b great for what you are working towards or in. For example, if you could attend a workshop that will provide you with a new skillset that could support your project, that would be great because…
  2. If WE could do for [company/charity/foundation/issue] it would be great because Y? Again, list a few things. In this case the WE is the partnership between you and the others at the table.
  3. If the [company/charity/foundation/issue] would ask me for X I would be able to help connect, support, provide, leverage my Time, Talent, Treasures and Ties to address this request. In this case, what do you have outside of the box you have been put in that can be accessed to move things forward?

In a recent project we did with a family foundation and the National Music Centre we mapped out the different assets that all the players brought to the table. This Time Talent Treasures and Ties chart is a snapshot of the larger list of the assets we mapped and it allowed us to identify the gaps in our asset base so that we could better manage some of the obstacles that might have arisen (or did arise) during the design and execution of the project.

Leveraging Assets

After we have identified the Time, Talent, Treasures and Ties that everyone brings to the table we begin exploring the different ways that people influence the solution design process by leveraging their assets.

In a white paper entitled, “Panic in the Chicken Coop,” published by Beyond Philanthropy, nine levers are identified as ways to influence or manipulate your asset base. We have laid these nine levers out in a Lever Chart with examples from the work we have done with our clients and others in our network.

  • Research and development
  • Transfer of knowledge
  • Integrating existing solutions
  • Advocacy
  • Encouraging cooperation between organizations and industries
  • Capacity building
  • Youth engagement
  • Supporting social entrepreneurs and social purpose businesses
  • Supporting grassroots organizations

When you overlay your assets with the different levers that are available for you to manipulate you begin to see how all the players can come together to support, or sometimes hinder, the design process. You can also see how the ecosystem in which your solution operates can be manipulated to scale up or scale out.

Recognizing that volunteers bring all of these assets to the table AND they can pull and push the levers of a project or solution is an integral to understanding how a solution will play out in the long-run. With this in mind, we hope you had a very good National Volunteer Week and that you can see how your assets are not limited to one specific trait or quality.