GOOD THINGS HAPPEN when community and business come together. When the forces of on-the-ground know-how, passion and commitment to cause combine with the human and financial resources that a company can marshal–the outcomes can be astounding. The acts of planting trees or stocking food banks gain the power to build futures and save lives.
Imagine Canada’s Caring Company program works to support Canada’s leading corporate citizens in their efforts to build healthy and prosperous communities all across the country. Best examples of this work are celebrated semi-annually through the Canadian Business and Community Partnership Awards.
WHAT TAKES A PARTNERSHIP FROM GOOD TO GREAT?
It all starts with common ground. Where there is shared understanding and commitment to cause the seeds of community building can flourish.
Joint ownership is also key to success. Both parties recognize that together their impact can be much greater than what they might accomplish alone.
When roles are clear and both partners are positioned to do what they do best, magic happens.
And, ultimately, it takes patience and perseverance to realize the best outcomes. Great partners know that good work takes time and discipline.
There is a sweet spot where the needs of community and the interests of business meet and produce extraordinary results. The examples profiled here are just a few of the innovative and impactful initiatives carried out by a small sample of Caring Companies. Each example tells a story of impact; together they reflect the hallmarks of business and community partnerships.
Youth in Canada today are less inclined to choose science as their career of choice. As an innovative technology company, 3M aims to apply its unique approaches to address social issues. Together with Let’s Talk Science (LTS)–a national charity that promotes children and youth engagement in science–they have delivered science competitions in 11 communities across Canada. 3M scientists work actively with LTS experts to develop challenges for the youth; company volunteers provide hands-on support at competitions and in-house corporate creative personnel produced a promotional video to turn more young people on to the marvels of science.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards helps create young leaders by encouraging youth to invest their time, energy and efforts to set and achieve goals. But the young people who could stand to benefit the most were not getting involved. In stepped TD Waterhouse. The company was on the lookout for an initiative that would make a difference in the lives of young people. The Investing in Youth Initiative launched as a pilot in three cities and later expanded to nine urban centres. The program also targets disabled youth–more than 5,000 inner city youth and more than 400 youth with disabilities are now involved. TD Waterhouse employees, in the nine participating cities, who are actively involved and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participants roll up their sleeves at the Shoreline Clean-up and Tree Days. As a result of this deliberate action at-risk youth are now given the tools to impact positively on their futures and the lives of others.
Note: Honourable Mention
After identifying poverty reduction/food security as an issue that resonated with their core values, Investors Group entered into a partnership with Food Banks Canada to support the cause. What started small with local offices engaging with local food banks has led to an organizational transformation and a strengthened food bank network. The partnership has evolved over ten years amounting to more than $3.4 million in funding, countless volunteer hours and leveraged support from the company’s advertising agency for a national campaign. Thanks to Hunger Awareness Day and other high profile efforts the cause of hunger is high on the public agenda.
Poverty, unemployment and youth disengagement are just some of the challenges facing Toronto’s high density St. James Town community. Their neighbour, Manulife Financial, knew that many minds and hands were required to address these complex and interconnected issues. As a result of 26 stakeholder interviews, a new program was born to strengthen the community from within. A dozen local service providers–committed to education, the environment, literacy, recreation and skills development and training–were identified and funded to build the long-term health and welfare of the neighbourhood. In addition to financial resources, hundreds of Manulife employees have given their time tutoring and greening school yards and have donated 10,000 books and hundreds of items of clothing. The company also opens its doors for a weekly homework club, and other activities.
Note: Large Business Award Winner
The partnership of TELUS and Tree Canada began with a single $10,000 donation to a school greening project. Thirteen years later the collaboration has helped green 450 schools across the country providing educational, environmental and health benefits to children. More than 230,000 trees have been planted across Canada, leading to the restoration of portions of BC’s forests, the reclaiming of farmland in Alberta and Saskatchewan to support water retention and wildlife habitat and the transformation of landfill sites in Quebec and Manitoba.
In 1996 The Boys and Girls Club of Summerside, Prince Edward Island had less than 20 members, one struggling program and a large deficit. This all changed when Rocky Arsenault of Remax Harbourside Realty decided to step in. With an initial cash gift of $2,000 to launch a breakfast program, the club’s prospects began to change for the better. A former club member himself, Arsenault hosts luncheons to inspire other local businesses to support the club. He and his staff give their time to fundraise, supervise and mentor the kids. They also lend technical expertise to develop new programming like the Top Grades for Trades program that lines up club alumni working in the trades to speak to current youth members about making successful employment choices. They gain on-site knowledge too by touring a cottage construction site. Arsenault’s realty company sells the finished cottage with all net proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside. This accumulated support has led to the provision of more than 80,000 free breakfasts since the start of the partnership.
Note: Small Business Award Winner
IMPACT! is a partnership between The Co-operators, The University of Guelph, The David Suzuki Foundation, The Natural Step Canada and a host of academic institutions across Canada. IMPACT! lets students explore real sustainability solutions with national business and sustainability leaders. Participants become eligible of IMPACT! program funding in order to implement self-generated sustainability initiatives. Projects are posted on the IMPACT! website www.impactyouthsustainability.ca homepage in order to extend reach and stimulate additional activity. This partnership recognizes that engaged and informed youth are the essential elements of a sustainable future. The next IMPACT! conference is in September 2011.
Caring Company program participants make a multi-year commitment to:
- Donate a minimum of 1% pre-tax profits to nonprofit organizations;
- Champion and sustain at least one community investment project; and
- Produce one public report describing the company’s community activities.
Imagine Canada is a charitable organization whose cause is Canada’s charities and nonprofits. We strengthen the sector’s collective voice, act as a forum and meeting place and provide a supportive environment for organizations to build stronger communities.
Imagine Canada salutes our Caring Companies for championing the importance of supporting Canada’s charities and nonprofits in every corner of our community to make a difference in the lives of more than 32 million Canadians:
AstraZeneca Canada Inc.
Blazing Design inc.
Cambrian Credit Union Limited
Carters Professional Corporation
Cenovus Energy Inc.
Coast Capital Savings Credit Union
Community First Credit Union Limited
Co-operators Group Limited, The
Community Savings Credit Union
Cooper’s Office Supply Co. Limited
CUMIS Group, The
Dundee Wealth Management Inc
Empire Life Insurance Company, The
Ernst & Young LLP
Fairmount Books Inc.
Farm Credit Canada
Froggy Fundraising Inc.
Gartner Lee Limited
Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life and Canada Life
Harvey McKinnon Associates
Henderson Partners LLP
Highstreet Asset Management
Hooper Law Office
Imperial Tobacco Limited *
Investors Group Inc.
James Richardson & Sons Limited
Johnston Group Inc
KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.)
Kingston Community Credit Union
Liquid Capital Pacific Corp.
Loblaw Companies Limited
Manifest Communications Inc
Manitoba Lotteries Corporation
Mawer Investment Management Limited
Midlyn Human Resources Communications
Molson Coors Canada
North Shore Credit Union
Paladin Labs Inc.
Partnership Group–Sponsorship Specialists
Peak of the Market
Pear Tree Financial
Pfizer Canada Inc
Phoenix Group, The
Power Corporation of Canada
Prospera Credit Union
Prosperity One Credit Union
ReMax Harbourside Realty
Research in Motion *
Rio Tinto Alcan
Rogers Communications Inc
Sandstone Asset Management Inc.
Selectpath Benefits & Financial Inc.
Shoppers Drug Mart
Smith’s Funeral Homes (Burlington) Limited
SPM Group Ltd
Superior Credit Union Limited
Syngenta Crop Protections Canada, Inc.
TD Bank Financial Group
Teck Resources Limited
Touchworks Communications inc.
Trico Homes Inc.
United Communities Credit Union Limited
Westminster Savings Credit Union
Winch Group Inc, The
Windsor Family Credit Union
Woodbine Entertainment Group
Xerox Canada Ltd.
List as of June 2, 2011.
* Caring Company Affiliate
If you’re a company who cares, we urge you to do what you can to stay committed to your good work in the community. Contact us today to find out how we can make your job easier by joining a growing network of business leaders committed to supporting community.
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