Anil Patel

Ashoka Fellow
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Fellow Since 2010


This profile was prepared when Anil Patel was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Anil is prompting volunteers to think and engage more strategically as citizens. By developing a model of “volunteer planning” he acts as a curator for civic participation. The same way individuals work with financial planners and physical trainers to create plans for managing their wealth and fitness, Anil offers support to citizens to create a long-term, sustained plan for their voluntary engagements and to learn how to maximize the impact of their volunteer hours. He is raising awareness about the benefits of a long-term engagement and sees civic participation as a distinctive and powerful path for every citizen.

Anil catalyzes citizens’ engagement through a series of events called TimeRaiser which brings together potential volunteers, citizen organizations (COs), and artists to strengthen everyone’s actions and reach. Volunteers bid on art with volunteer hours that are then invested into the CO of their choice. To contribute to the financial viability of the artists’ professional careers, Anil also raises corporate funds to pay artists for their art donations. He is thus creating powerful new synergies; COs gain strategic outreach and can solicit high-quality and long-term volunteer commitments; volunteers have the unique opportunity to meet with an array of organizations and select where they may best contribute; and artists carve out a space where they can showcase and sell their art. Once citizens are “hooked,” Anil ensures that they follow through and refine their approaches to volunteerism.

Although Anil developed these initiatives out of a deep commitment for civic engagement, he also wanted to address the citizen sector’s chronic struggles with internal management and capacity issues, which in turn, limits their social impact. He is addressing these issues more deeply through two nascent initiatives. Anil leverages these combined strategies to create value for the citizen sector and increase its potential impact.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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