My new job.

I am so immensely pleased to announce my new job (but don’t worry, it’s still at Vancity).

I am now the Director, Digital & Community Engagement, accountable for engaging members, employees and the people in their communities to understand their co-operative impact, strengthen loyalty and affinity, and develop relationships within our communities. My mandate includes overseeing community grants, sponsorships and events, social media, mobile and digital engagement, online banking, and the intranet.

Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked, and I NEVER say “stoked”!

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a special relationship with the organization I work for. Almost eight years ago, when my wife Amy and I moved back to Vancouver from Los Angeles, we knew that we wanted to deal with Vancity. I have no idea how we knew that, but we somehow just knew that it represented an investment into community that was different from other financial institutions.

I had never belonged to a credit union before – as a kid I dealt with TD and Royal Bank, and in the States I banked at Seafirst and then Washington Mutual. I’m not sure I even knew what a credit union was, but I knew that Vancity was a place where my money could do different things for my family and the community I was so excited to come back to.

Then, a couple of years later it occurred to me that I should work there. I started on a three month contract in 2005 – in what was then the Interactive Services team – and my career would never be the same. I connect with the place – I understand the brand, the co-operative roots, I get how money can be invested back into local community impact rather than private shareholders (in fact, 30% of net profits are reinvested back into members and their communities every year).

And in 2008 I was promoted to head up the new Web Engagement & Banking Team, overseeing online banking, the Intranet and social media. I work with a great team, and we do amazing things, and now we get to do a whole hell of a lot more.

My new team will continue doing all the things we have been doing, but several staff who currently run a whole slew of real-world (gasp) community activities will join us. We will be engaging community through digital tools – my bread and butter – but I will also be overseeing community grants, sponsorships and events.

So, why this combination of activities into one department? It’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. A lot of members, and even staff, know Vancity does amazing and brave things to support community, but they don’t know the specifics. Frankly, we haven’t done a good enough job of communicating all that we do to help communities thrive and prosper. Bringing together these tools and activities means that we can use our new intranet to engage staff, and our website, and other digital tools to engage members so they all understand what we do to support community – their own communities and their own neighbourhoods.

For me it’s a bit of a dream come true, because these activities get to the heart of why my wife and I joined Vancity as members, and why I threw my resume over the wall five years ago to try and get a job there in the first place. I’m now a little closer to the organization’s vision of Redefining Wealth, and get to draw more fully on the lessons I learned from touring the co-operative sector in Bologna.

So, 2011 is looking like a pretty exciting year, full of opportunities to learn new skills, get involved with new areas of the financial co-operative, and enable our staff, our members and the people in their communities to engage with the organization. We can help them better understand that people pooling their money together can create impact that can make our lives, and our neighbours’ lives, better.

Supporting the Vancity Community Foundation.

One area of Vancity that I’m excited to get more involved with is the Vancity Community Foundation. I didn’t have much to do with the Foundation until fairly recently when I chose them to receive the donation made in my name when I was named GonzoBanker of the Month back in March.

And then recently, I went to their 20th anniversary celebration, and was in awe of what they accomplish in our communities every day. Brave, inspiring work that reminded me of all the reasons I work at Vancity.

Here are those videos, and I urge you to check them out.

Community Stories
20th Anniversary
Donor Stories

I have written before that one of the main things I love about doing what I do at Vancity is that it is an organization whose presence would be sorely missed by many in our area if it were to disappear. It is an organization that matters, which is not a sense I’ve ever had about the companies I’ve ever worked for before. It is a profound thing.

I’ll be writing more about the Vancity Community Foundation soon, we’re about to launch a very cool way to support their work.

ChangeCamp coming to Vancouver?

ChangeCampLast year I was one of the co-organizers of BarCampBankBC, an un-conference devoted to innovation in the financial services industry. BarCampBank has occurred several times around the world, and, as one of the attendees Morriss Partee recently blogged, each one takes on a local element. Morriss said that BarCampBankBC specifically “had a worthy-cause and social media flavor”.

After BarCampBankBC was over, Jeremy Osborn, a friend and sometimes commenter on this blog, mentioned to me that he would like to see the same un-conference, collaborative style applied to topics of sustainability and social change. Sounded like a very good and extremely worthwhile endevour.

I am lucky to work at a financial institution focused on these issues. Not many FIs aim at this space, but it exactly the intersection of where the money is and the changes we need to make in our society that makes Vancity such an amazing anomaly.

In a questionnaire, I recently (and somewhat inarticulately) told one of my favourite conferences, Net.Finance, in answer to their question “In a volatile economy like we have today, what does it really mean to be innovative?”:

As FIs in today’s economy the greatest innovations we can achieve are those that bring us closer to our customers. Anything that helps us better understand their needs and help them understand and manage their finances so as many people as possible can get through this period with their assets intact. Those are the innovations our customers will remember us for, how we treated them when everything was down. That’s how we build loyalty for the long term.

Recently, I found out that a BarCamp devoted to social change may, in fact, be happening.

In Toronto, people are planning something called ChangeCamp. This is how the organizers describe it:

ChangeCamp is a free participatory web-enabled face-to-face event that brings together citizens, technologists, designers, academics, policy wonks, political players, change-makers and government employees to answer one question:
How do we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation?

Very intriguing. If you live in Toronto, check it out.

And now I learn that there is a spinoff group of ChangeCamp starting right here in Vancouver, calling their event VanChangeCamp. I’m paying close attention. Looks like it is currently being aimed to happen on March 28th, 2009.

I’ll post more as I learn more, but it should be an event worth watching…