CBC and Manulife reward volunteerism

In association with Outpost travel magazine, a new initiative called Canada's Champions of Change asks CBC News readers and viewers to nominate those who make a difference.

Instead of spending their vacations at all-inclusive resorts, some travellers choose to volunteer abroad, while others spend their free time closer to home, rallying for social justice. CBC news, in collaboration with adventure travel magazine Outpost, wants to honour both kinds of volunteers with a new program called Canada’s Champions for Change.

Through a TV ad campaign currently in market, CBC news viewers are being asked to nominate someone who they feel has made a difference in their community. A panel will select 10 finalists, who will be profiled regularly on the news segment Connect with Mark Kelley, in Outpost magazine, on CBC’s The National come fall and on a cross-Canada special broadcast on the CBC News Network, airing Jan. 16, 2011.

Manulife Financial is sponsoring the program, providing $25,000 each to one local volunteer and one who has made a difference abroad. As the sponsor, Manulife has a site domination with advertising on the program’s website, CBC.ca/change, and will also be featured on the Jan. 16 finale. The remaining finalists who are not chosen as winners (recognized in the categories of education, community and culture; environment; health and wellness; housing and infrastructure; and social justice) will each receive $10,000 for the charities of their choice.

Champions of Change will allow CBC news to reflect the growing volunteering community, but also make a connection with younger viewers, explains James Dunne, producer in charge of Canada’s Champions of Change.

‘You see a lot of youth activity around environmental initiatives…social justice initiatives and community initiatives. Those are the types of things that we try to reflect in the categories for this contest,’ Dunne tells MiC. ‘Almost an expression of political activity for them in some cases is activism and volunteering. So that was something that we thought that might help us tap into that market.’

Mark Kelley will on July 1 and 2, in a segment featuring Holmes on Homes host Mike Holmes, provide more information about the program on CBC news Network’s Connect. Outpost magazine also placed a 16-page insert in The Globe and Mail Monday, featuring a handful of the initial champions, in an editorial collaboration between the magazine and CBC.

Promo spots will vary, but each finalist will receive their own profile in ads on CBC News Network in the fall, and the public will be encouraged to vote for their pick online.

‘The bigger and broader picture here is that CBC news was looking for a large initiative that would recognize Canadians’ commitment to volunteering,’ Dunne says. ‘We’re interested in things that would be part of our mandate overall in terms of engaging with Canadians and issues, and that help us reflect who we are as people.’