There are volunteers who spend countless hours helping others. And then there’s Dale Hanson, who helps the organizations behind them.
The St. Albert resident was recently awarded with the 2015 Philanthropist of the Year Award for her decades of strengthening community organizations by doing what, in her own words, no one else wants to do.
She writes their policies and bylaws, and sometimes she also sits on their boards. And she does it for free.
“I’ve always had an interest in people who are victimized and trying to help where I could,” she says. “But I am not a touchy-feely person so the actual front-line work was not for me.”
Hanson never set out to become an expert on policy development. Instead, she was a teacher.
But in 1988, while working in the Beaufort Delta region in Inuvik, a friend approached her about joining the regional health board.
The federal government at the time had passed over responsibility for health care to the territorial government, which left the board without direction and “in a very tumultuous time,” she says.
With no prior experience, she decided to help.
Within two years, she was chair of the board and had developed a governance curriculum, which she used to train large schools, health and business boards.
She also joined the board for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to work on policies with several shelters in the region.
“I had a great life, a good childhood, a good marriage … but really that kind of work interested me,” she says.
Now a resident of St. Albert, she continues her work, serving as chair of both the St. Albert Victim Services Board and KARE Victim Services Board.
She also sat on the St. Albert Stop Abuse in Families (SAIF) Society Board for many years.
Hanson says, while she doesn’t work on the frontlines with the volunteers, the work she provides is important.
Too many not-for-profits and volunteer organizations close down or lack funding because they don’t have a strategic plan or well-formulated bylaws. And their boards try to manage too much while losing sight of their goals, she says.
“I like to get in behind the organization and ensure that it is viable and that it is running well,” she says. “So if I can write your policies for you, if I can write your bylaws, if I can do these things for you … then it’s time that you don’t have to spend.”