Each year we present the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards. Like many other special events, this celebration is typically done in person, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Volunteer Manitoba has once again decided to host the awards celebration online via their Facebook page


Regardless if we come together in-person or over our computers, we at Spark always look forward to this day because it gives us a chance to recognize our volunteers and the impact their work has had on the community, as well as celebrate volunteerism throughout Manitoba.


From now until awards night, we are celebrating these nominees for the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award, and their contributions to their community through a series of volunteer profiles.


Today we are profiling Stephanie Johnston!


We first met Stephanie on a warm summer day in 2019. She wanted to volunteer with Spark because she is passionate about empowering others and wanted to connect with local organizations that could benefit from her expertise in social media and marketing. 


Soon enough the perfect match presented itself from Inclusion WInnipeg, an “organization dedicated to making life better for children and adults living with intellectual disabilities”. Inclusion Winnipeg wanted to use social media to increase awareness of their organization and educate people on the meaning of inclusion. 


According to nominator, Scott, Stephanie “undertook an analysis and inventory of [their] social media, mail-chimp and electronic assets and provided us with a series of recommendations in a plain language report, which yielded immediate results.” 


These results include an increase in followers on their Facebook page from 1,000 (built up over five years) to 1,800 in four months, a growing email list, and more regular media appearances. 


Furthermore, the organization’s ability to use this new social media knowledge helped them “make a successful pivot from in-person to digital when COVID19 hit.” For Scott this was key as the organization was “caught in the epi-centre of COVID19 due to the risk that the virus posed for people with intellectual disabilities. For Inclusion Winnipeg, we had to be loud and break through the noise AND we did.”


Congratulations on your nomination, Stephanie! Thank you for volunteering your expertise to an organization that enables individuals to lead happy and fulfilling lives.