Noorin Ladhani is the marketing and communications lead at Framework.
The name might not be familiar, but Framework is responsible for one of Toronto’s more inventive and recognizable charitable events, Timeraiser. The premise is simple—bid on a piece of art by offering a non-profit your expertise and time—but has already garnered a lot of fans.
In this interview, Ladhani talks to us about how the organization got started and where the idea for it came from, as well what it’s like to watch people go through the program.
In four sentences or less, tell us who you are and what you do for a living.
Give us the elevator pitch for Timeraiser.
We auction off art for volunteer hours, trying to raise volunteer hours across Canada. We help non-profits looking for skilled professionals.
Where did the inspiration for Timeraiser come from?
The idea came from our founder, Anil Patel. In 2002, he was with several of his friends and they were talking about finding a way to connect skilled volunteers with non-profits in their community. They couldn’t think of one place where they could go for that and so the idea for Timeraiser was conceived.
They wanted Timeraiser to be the one place where you could come, meet and see what multiple non-profits have to offer. The twist to the event is that it’s also a silent auction. But instead of bidding on art with money, you bid on it with volunteer hours.
Where do the art pieces come from?
We purchase all our art from emerging Canadian artists. The artists pick a price for their pieces and we pay a fair market value of up to $1000 per piece. Through the program we’ve invested over $900,000 in the careers of Canadian artists.
Where and when did the first event take place?
The first event took place in 2003 at the CBC building in downtown Toronto. It has become a nationwide event, though it definitely has its roots in this city.
What’s the most challenging part of running a company like this? What’s the most rewarding?
We always want to make sure that we’re getting as many people as possible out to our events and raising as many volunteering hours as possible. So the challenge is penetrating through all the other events that happen in this city—and all the great things that our country has to offer—to make sure that Timeraiser is foremost in people’s mind when they go look for volunteer opportunities.
The most rewarding thing is the work that comes out of what our volunteers get to do for the non-profits… So the way Timeraiser works is that you have to finish your volunteering commitment before you can pick up your piece.
Does almost everyone go through with it?
Yeah, we have an 93% completion rate. So we do pretty well in those terms.
But it’s watching that journey of someone winning a piece of art, volunteering for a year, having some sort of impact with the organization they’ve chosen to work with and then finally seeing them take their piece home that is amazing. That piece is so much more meaningful to them after they’ve put in the time to acquire it.
Is there a time limit to how many hours someone can bid?
Yes, we cap the hours at 100.
Is every winning bid 100 hours?
We have pieces that go for less than that, but, at the same time, we are trying to raise as many hours as we can, so we encourage people to bid 100 hours.
How did you get involved with the company?
I joined three years ago. At the time, I was helping Formation work on a service called Platformation. It was a platform where we were creating low cost web tools for non-profits. After that I transitioned to helping out with Timeraiser.
Is there a local neighbourhood that inspires you? If so, what about that neighbourhood is inspiring?
I’ve recently been spending a lot of time in Dundas and Ossington. It’s so fascinating and interesting there. There are fun bars, amazing music venues and great restaurants.
Occasionally I like to also go down to Gerrard. You can get things there that you can’t get anywhere else in the city.
What do you love about Toronto?
It’s such a diverse place. There’s always something to do. It doesn’t matter what night or time of the week it is.
What does success look like for you?
I think success means being able to give back to the community you live in, being happy and touching people’s lives when you can.
What’s next for you?
This is a great path that I’m on right now. I’ll like to continue on it and see where it takes me.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Igor Bonifacic is the managing editor of Toronto Standard. Follow him on Twitter.