The Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta (CPAA) has big plans to beef up its call centre, thanks to a recent grant from ATB Financial. CPAA was one of five recipients of a $20,000 Time to Think grant, awarded this spring.
The money is great but the partnership that comes along with it is “invaluable” according to Executive Director Janice Bushfield.
The call centre is command central for the organization’s social enterprise–the Collection Crew. It collects and recycles clothing, household goods, and drink containers in communities all over Alberta, generating 34 per cent of the Association’s revenue. The call centre employs people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Staff members spend their shifts calling Albertans to find out if they have donations and arranging for them to be picked up.
The organization plans to use its Time to Think grant to purchase new software that will dramatically improve the efficiency of the call centre. The new technology will even provide a solution to one of the organization’s biggest struggles–snow days!
When poor weather hits Edmonton (as it does from time to time), staff are often unable to get to work and the call centre shuts down for the day. But even one day lost in the call centre can lead to a loss of nearly a week’s worth of productivity for the Collection Crew who will have fewer pickups on their schedules. That cuts into profits too. The new call centre software will allow call centre to staff to work from home on days they can’t make it in.
The goal of the ATB Time to Think grant is to give the staff, board and members of non-profits in Alberta time to build new skills or develop new strategies that will help their organizations to change and improve.
The grants also come with a unique perk—expertise. In cases where ATB has knowledge or experience that overlaps with the needs of the winners, the two organizations are given a chance to connect.
In the case of CPAA, forging a partnership is a no brainer. Later this summer, a group of the Association's staff will travel to ATB’s Customer Care Centre in Calgary.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a one-time visit to ATB’s call centre,” says Bushfield. “It’s going to be a great resource we hope to be able to draw on down the road too.”
Sandra Huculak, ATB’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Investment was part of the judging panel who reviewed the CPAA’s grant application.
“We were impressed with their tenacity and their business sense. We look forward to sharing ATB’s experiences managing a very large call centre.”
ATB plans to offer a new round of Time to Think grants sometime this winter. For information on the requirements and eligibility criteria, click here.
Congratulations to the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta, and to the other Time to Think grant recipients:
- Connections Counselling and Consulting Foundation
Connections helps families in Calgary and area maintain safe and nurturing homes for their children. The organization supports families where one or both of the parents has a cognitive challenge. Connections will use its Time to Think Grant to implement a succession plan for the organization.
- Inn from the Cold
Inn from the Cold has a mission to provide emergency shelter, support and programs to homeless children, their families and others in need, with the goal of building healthy, stable families and ending homelessness. The organization will use its Time to Think grant to implement a leadership program for senior staff that includes employee recruitment, training, retention, employee coaching and more.
Momentum provides training programs to underemployed individuals in Calgary. Momentum’s mission is to partner with people living on low incomes to increase prosperity and support the development of local economies. Momentum will use its Time to Think grant to develop the organization’s ability to recognize, analyze and catalyze revenue generating and social enterprise opportunities.
- Theatre Network
For more than 40 years, Theatre Network operated out of the Roxy Theatre, which burned to the ground in January of 2015. Since then, Theatre Network has moved its performances to alternate venues around Edmonton. Theatre Network’s Time to Think grant will go toward a feasibility study for a capital campaign, and an operations and communications plan.