Volunteers play a key role in guiding United Way’s annual campaign. Campaign Cabinet is made up of 40 dedicated local business, labour and social service sector leaders who share their skills, time and talent to raise money for United Way. Tyler Tollefson has been volunteering on our Cabinet for 10 years. In his day job he is Vice President, Legal Representation at Legal Aid Alberta. As a United Way volunteer, Tyler heads the Leadership Giving team, which works to attract donors who give $1,200 per year or more. Tyler shares his thoughts on why he volunteers.
With a history of volunteering, I’m always open to new experiences and opportunities and to be honest my involvement with United Way began simply with an ask from someone I respected. Because I was new to Alberta at the time, I had more free time than usual and knew of the United Way from a brief volunteering opportunity many years prior in Saskatchewan.
I started as an Employee Campaign Chair and next year joined the Campaign Cabinet. I’ve now been on Cabinet for 10 years and during that time I’ve chaired a number of portfolios (depending on the needs of the United Way) including: Emerging Accounts, Real Estate, Accounting and Legal, Shared Value, Leaders of the Way and Individual Giving. This will be my second year on the executive.
I wouldn’t attempt to rank all the great charities out there but it’s easy for me to promote the United Way given their approach to the community. It’s local and that helps to address, in part, my wish to give back to the community where I live. Secondly, but no less important, is the fact that the organization takes a holistic approach to helping people affected by poverty. What this means is that the organization strategically funds dozens of local charities to ensure that all aspects of a person’s needs are met.
Earlier this year I was making thank you calls to donors and one of the hundreds of people I reached asked me if I had some additional time after I had thanked him for donating. The young father relayed his own personal story which was very impactful. He told me that he never saw the need to donate but that now he will donate for the rest of his life given recent events that had a very bad effect on him and his young kids. He concluded by thanking me and telling me how grateful he was for the work that I was doing! It gave me chills a few months ago and it still affects me today.
Even though I don’t volunteer and donate for my own purposes, these unexpected boosts are fantastic and it would be my wish that everyone could have these experiences from time to time. These are truly the rewards that can enrich a life.
Tyler Tollefson, VP Legal Representation and Advice, Legal Aid Alberta
Cabinet member; Team Lead, Individual Giving