Logo - Sandra Schmirler Foundation

Sandra Schmirler Telethon

Since inception in 2001, the Sandra Schmirler Foundation has donated $2.4 million to 34 hospital neonatal intensive care units from coast-to-coast. If you missed the telethon on TSN you can still donate online through their website.

Versature was approached only a few weeks before this year’s event.  Members of Versature’s executive, technical and sales teams volunteered their time to help setup, support and teardown a one-day temporary call centre for 30 volunteer call takers, among them some big names in curling (including many of the teams who had been curling only minutes earlier).

Hosted at the Scottie’s Tournament of Hearts, the Sandra Schmirler Telethon is featured prominently on TSN during the first Sunday of the tournament accounting for a majority of the foundations annual donations.

During the telethon curling fans from across Canada called and donated to support the Sandra Schmirler Foundation and neonatal intensive care units across Canada. For Versature staff onsite at the event it was a great change of pace from the office as the lines and call queues lit up in waves when TSN would air coverage of the telethon and encourage donations.

Post event it has been a real delight to look back.  Both the amazing amount of money raised for such a good cause (over $250,000 this year!) and the success of using the communication tools we all support and sell every day, in the name of newborn children in need.

When I first spoke with the team leading the technology portion of the telethon I was at first shocked and then not surprised at all by the stories and difficulties the board, volunteers and staff had encountered in previous years.

Volunteers manning Versature phones

Setting up a call centre for a single day, in a different city, only once a year should be a difficult enough challenge. Try doing it with volunteers then make your venue an ice rink you have little control over and no history with. Phone lines ordered, tollfree numbers redirected and physical equipment set up only hours before it is used is a recipe for year-after-year of frustration.

Personally I have moved large organizations, designed and rebuild complex infrastructure over a weekend and even moved mountains (okay maybe not!) but even after a few years of setting up for a telethon in a different building, different province and likely different telephone company makes  moving a mountain look like a challenge that might just be possible.

But in all seriousness, I am not sure a better story can been told in terms of why a hosted phone solution makes sense.

Forget the features, wiring, phones, or internet. Just the ability to setup, test, and deliver a functioning system changes the game. Our biggest challenge during the setup was actually having the TSN TV crew to agree to the table layout. Once the table positions were fixed, our team rolled out the phones, connected the PoE switches and setup an LCD so that board members and our team could make sure all calls were being answered and watch the calls come in.

Even after a weekend spent under folding tables, testing internet connections and unboxing then re-boxing phones, our team is proud to support such a great group of volunteers and board members, and we can only hope to be so privileged to help grassroots organizations like the Sandra Schmirler Foundation in years to come.

If you’re involved with an organization that could use telecommunications services, our team would be happy to work with you to make sure you reach all your objectives, wether they are to grow fundraising to new heights, support clients or break into new markets. Get in !

Jonathon Moody is skip of the Operations team at Versature.  At the telethon he brought along third Simon Quigley, second Frank Charlebois and lead Bryan Vaughan. Great job guys!

About Sarah Dingman

Sarah Dingman serves as Versature's Senior Marketing Specialist, putting her experience in content marketing and digital strategy to work in a fast-paced tech environment. Sarah has 6+ years experience working in marketing, specifically within the tech industry, and is passionate about advancements in her field as well as her volunteer roles in the nonprofit sector, such as her position with LiveWorkPlay.