Art Dunham is a committed environmentalist and volunteer on Big Clear Lake, which borders the hamlet of Arden. He has been involved with the Big Clear Lake Association, Scouts, the Frontenac Environmental Partnership, and Friends of Arden.
His other life has been in IT. He worked for Nortel when the company was a giant in the telecommunications industry in Canada, and eventually was working with Avaya, which had purchased Nortel’s remaining assets in 2009 after Nortel’s spectacular failure and demise. Art kept working at Avaya until he was downsized out of job in 2013.
“At age 53, I wasn’t ready to retire. As part of my volunteer work, I had developed software that helped me do the associated day-to-day tasks easier and faster. I knew other volunteers running similar associations were facing the same challenges and would benefit from these solutions as well. It was time to give back to the community and help others, as well as generate some extra income to bridge the gap until my regular retirement age. Those were the incentives that led to the creation of Vital Volunteers Inc. later that same year,” he said of his decision to combine two of his passions, lake association work and communications technology.
Vital Volunteers has been developed for lake Associations and other not-for-profit groups that deal with a similar set of problems: communicating with association members, collecting fees, maintaining financial records in a timely manner, and promoting events.
“We help those tireless volunteers running the executive of community-based associations, societies, clubs and not-for-profit with cloud based solutions for member management, communication, events, online payments, and more. This makes them more efficient and effective, freeing up their volunteers to focus on their organization’s mission, rather than updating spreadsheets for member contact information, donations, dues etc. Our solutions also help to make information more readily available via the Cloud, as well as enhancing direct communication to an organization’s members. Getting these administrative type tasks done, without burning out your volunteers, is vital for any community-based organization,” he said.
Over the last five years, Vital Volunteers has been fine tuning its service offerings based on Dunham’s experience with the Big Clear Lake Association and other clients
“Our solutions continue to evolve, and our customers love it,” he said. “Before they used several different 3rd party software packages and now they can just use ours. Additionally, we have been able to deliver custom solutions to their individual problems that go beyond administrative boundaries such as BioBlitz tracking, interactive lake buoy mapping, revenue generating Business Directory and online community hall rentals.”
Vital Volunteers was recently recognised for its innovative approach to communications by the WISE 50 over 50 annual awards program. WISE, which stands for Wisdom-Initiative-Skills-Experience is a website and awards program that was developed by Wendy Mayhew, a senior’s entrepreneurship researcher and promoter.
The 50 over 50 awards program recognises innovators in what it calls the “newest and fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship, led by people over the age of 50.” The program is now two years old, and has been steadily increasing its profile.
“Winning this award gives me a boost by showing me that others see the value in what I am doing. I can use it as another tool in marketing my service to lake associations and other groups who are looking to make it easier to manage their operations and recruit members and volunteers,” he said.
For info about Vital Volunteers, go to vitalvlunteers.ca