Happy Birthday Canada! – Connecting Your Community Investment to the National Celebration

With summer here, people are out celebrating the country’s 150th birthday and everything Canadian – from building an online Canadian coat of arms, to planning vacations exploring our National Parks with Parks Canada’s 2017 free passes.

Beyond learning how to pronounce “sesquicentennial”, there are solid corporate reasons to celebrate Canada’s 150th.

The anniversary also provides a great opportunity to use your community investment programs to boost your employee engagement. A number of corporations and organizations across Canada are taking advantage of the year-long festivities to run events and programs that are generating positive impact in the communities in which they operate.

Generally, the activities fall into one of two different categories: signature projects that encourage participation within the ranks and community projects that get employees out and about and highlight regional talent, expertise and the country’s diversity.

Three LBG Canada clients have taken three different ways to celebrate this year.

Meridian joins forces with credit unions across the country

Meridian, the fourth largest Credit Union in Canada, already matches employee donations, fundraising efforts and volunteer hours to encourage employees as they volunteer with charities they’re passionate about in their communities.

This year the Ontario-based credit union is taking the opportunity to go even further. “We decided to participate in the Canadian Credit Union Association (CCUA) volunteer challenge,” says Lauren Fitzgerald, Community Investment Specialist at Meridian. The CCUA is challenging credit unions to contribute to a total 150,000 volunteer hours across the country and across the sector by the end of 2017.

Meridian has committed to contribute 5,000 so that’s what we committed to.” Furthermore, at the end of the year, the company will recognize employees with Change Maker awards, donated to the employee’s charity of choice. There are three different categories for the Change Maker awards; individual employees, teams and family.

“When you have a family it’s not realistic to take a day off work and go volunteer,” says Fitzgerald. “But if it’s something you can do together as a family it can be really meaningful.” It can also help any students in the family receive volunteer hours that are recorded by their schools.

Fitzgerald admits the initial planning around Canada 150 was “a little overwhelming” because so many people brought so many good ideas to the table.  “The key is to stay authentic to business goals and values that your employees and stakeholders believe in,” she says. “For us it was clear that we really wanted to tie in the celebration to volunteer work and community building because that’s a big part of our identity as a credit union and the values that credit unions share.” There was no extra budget set aside for the sesquicentennial. It came out of the existing budget for Employee Volunteering/Giving.

Meridian decided the best course of action was to work with employees who are already doing community building and participating in employee volunteering/giving programs. “We really wanted to do something for Canada 150 because it’s inspirational,” says Fitzgerald.

Shaw supports 150 birthday wishes

Shaw Communications celebrated Canada’s landmark anniversary by granting 150 birthday wishes to honour extraordinary Canadians and organizations that are improving the lives of children and youth. The Calgary-based telecommunications company asked Canadians to nominate people, events and organizations that are working to build a healthy and prosperous future for children and youth in our communities.

“Canada is a place of inspiration, innovation, and diversity,” said Chethan Lakshman, Vice President, External Affairs. “As a proudly Canadian company, with customers, employees and operations across Canada, we wanted to celebrate our country by recognizing the outstanding people and organizations that are making Canada a better place for kids.”

Through its existing Shaw Kids Investment Program (SKIP), Shaw is providing grants to non-profit organizations that are holding heritage and cultural youth-focused events, charitable organizations planning initiatives that support children and youth and organizations that are championed by Canadians that are going above and beyond to support Canada’s youth. 

Organizations that received funding include the Rick Hansen Foundation to support their Access4All Canada 150 Signature Initiative, the Earth Rangers’ School Assembly Program that takes information about the environment to elementary schools, and the Innovation 150 Power of Ideas Tour, which is a travelling, hands-on exhibit teaching kids about the history of Canadian innovation. Shaw is also involving employees in this initiative by matching all employee donations to kids and youth organizations in 2017 at 150%.

Through the program, Shaw is shining a spotlight on these different activities by announcing them over they year and featuring them on a special website for the sesquicentennial: www.shaw.ca/Canada150.

“We received a large number of nominations, and were moved by the many amazing stories of outstanding individuals and their incredible dedication to our communities,” said Lakshman.

Cenovus celebrates literacy and culture to honour Canada 150

As a homegrown Canadian company, Cenovus is commemorating Canada’s 150 throughout the year by giving back to the communities where they work and live in a meaningful and impactful way. The company is providing more than $200,000 to local libraries and Aboriginal communities across their operating areas in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Staff from the company also volunteered in several related literacy events.

“As a proud Canadian energy company, we asked ourselves, ‘what can we do in our communities that means something to them and that aligns with what we support’,” explains Vicki Reid, Director, Community Affairs at Cenovus.

Libraries are an important community hub, especially in smaller communities, because they house a variety of essential programs and services on a range of topics like reading and early literacy, computer competency and skills for newcomers and those seeking employment.

These strategic donations to more than 20 separate libraries honour our country’s past and future by reaffirming our continued commitment to learning and literacy and building the strength and well-being of our communities.

Celebrating Aboriginal culture

In addition to Cenovus’ literacy donations, they are acknowledging the special role that Aboriginal culture plays in Canada by providing their Aboriginal communities with funds to celebrate in ways that are meaningful to them this year.

For example, the McMurray Metis Local 1935 held their annual Metis Festival recently and Cenovus provided funds to support the event.

“It is so encouraging to know that a company such as Cenovus gives back to our Indigenous communities and helps us celebrate such meaningful traditions,” says Gail Gallupe, President of McMurray Metis Local 1935.

Thanks to a Cenovus donation, they were able to host a fish fry and provide fish and bannock for more than 1,800 kids. In total, 19 Aboriginal communities will benefit from these donations.

It’s not too late to celebrate

There is still half a year left of Canada’s 150th birthday party. It’s not too late to harness the power of your employees and leverage your community investment to generate a positive impact in your communities – something truly worth celebrating. On Canada Day ask ‘how can your organization wish Canada a Happy Birthday’?

LBG Canada News – July 2017

Important Dates

Review of Employee Volunteering & Employee Giving Benchmarking Results  – July 25th, 2017

Management Data to Support Your Employee Volunteering & Employee Giving Programs – September 7th, 2017

Using Your Insights & Opportunities Report for Planning & Performance – September 12th, 2017

To register, please contact communications@simpactsg.com.

#CIMatters: $3 Billion and Counting…

The LBG Canada audit reveals insights into multi-year trends, for each company and for the network as a whole. As we added 2016 results into our data pool, it became clear that LBG Canada companies have invested more than $3 Billion (yes, that’s a B) in community since 2006. Including stakeholder contributions, that increases the LBG Canada footprint to little over $4 Billion

Three Billion dollars… while it is impact (not dollar amount) that really matters, one can’t help to think of the importance of that total amount to enable impact – on community, the Canadian economy and upon the economies of smaller communities in particular.

In this age of sustainability, CSR, corporate citizenship, purpose, social innovation, and social enterprise, it is possible to overlook the importance of corporate community investment. After all, the goal of 1% of pre-tax profit is a smudge on the corporate ledger when considering the total amount of cash flowing through a company annually, isn’t it?

Perhaps from a financial accounting perspective, but we would disagree! Let’s consider the perspective of community partners using corporate investment dollars to change people’s lives for the better. It is time to share those impact stories. #CIMatters

As you know, LBG Canada informs and enhances corporate strategy, measurement and reporting of investment in community, including volunteering and giving programs. More companies are measuring impact to more effectively demonstrate the business and community value of investing in community.

We’re very pleased to work with a growing number of LBG Canada companies that are seeking to integrate impact measurement into their strategy, implementation and reporting efforts.

To learn more about measuring impact, email Stephanie at stephanie@simpactsg.com.

Upcoming Report: The State of Community Investment in Canada (2017)

Imagine Canada, a national advocate on behalf of a strong charitable sector, will release the inaugural Canadian Corporate Community Investment Report in the fall of 2017 to illustrate the impact of Canadian corporate investment that strengthens communities across the country. The report features Caring Companies that are achieving the 1% of pre-tax profit designation and the impact of the LBG Canada network of companies.

We estimate that companies and their stakeholders contribute close to $1 Billion annually. This $1 Billion estimate is based upon the LBG Model, the international standard for the measurement and management of community investment.

“The Corporate Community Investment Report will highlight the importance of ongoing corporate community investment in Canada and recognize the excellence and leadership of the Caring Company group,” says Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada. “The results from the study will provide charities and Canadians with additional insights about the tremendous scope and innovation of Canadian companies and their commitment to communities.”

“The LBG Canada footprint is more than $4 billion in community since 2006, in partnership with key stakeholders. That contribution has had significant economic and social impact,” says Stephanie Robertson, Founder and Facilitator of LBG Canada. “As the LBG Model is the internationally recognized standard for managing and measuring community investment activities, the LBG Canada group of companies looks forward to playing a major role in the release of this report and its ongoing development.”

Companies interested in participating in the annual reporting are encouraged to learn more about becoming a Caring Company or a part of the LBG Canada network of companies.

A Conference About People…

Around the world, companies seek to recruit and retain employees through generous salary and benefits packages. Yet a variety of evidence highlights that employee retention is significantly influenced by corporate culture.

LBG Canada and Realized Worth share a vision for how corporate involvement in community can result in many amazing things – from an impassioned workforce that is more cohesive, productive and engaged, to communities that have been impacted by corporate giving and the passions of employees.

In late October, we will be co-hosting a conference focused upon how companies and communities benefit as a result of mobilizing the talents and passions of employees.

An upcoming book by Wharton Professor Adam Grant, “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success” suggests that involvement in an act of giving that is linked to the work environment strengthens how an employee feels about their organization. Generally-speaking, involvement in giving enables us to see ourselves in more caring terms, which makes us feel good. When the opportunity to give to others is enabled by the work environment, Grant’s research illustrates that employees see their employer organization in more pro-social, caring terms. His work takes the importance of pro-social and caring environments several steps further, creating links to greater organizational productivity and effectiveness.

This research is important for many reasons. It suggests that an employee’s response to being part of a giving environment may be much more influential than is currently realized by many employers. If this is the case, then companies overlooking volunteering and giving activities as a valuable part of corporate activity, are missing opportunities to a) engage their workforce, b) create an environment that will trigger a positive employee response, and c) increase effectiveness.

Even within the LBG Canada network, while 96% of companies encourage some form of volunteering, 58% report their programs are under-resourced and therefore not able to live up to their engagement potential. When Adam Grant’s research is considered, there is a very real argument to be made that these employers are missing an opportunity.

While employer-supported volunteering is increasingly part of a community investment profile, the potential of volunteers as a valuable asset to be deployed to achieve a stated objective is only beginning to be understood. Recently, the concept of “Blended Capital” has been introduced and is now being socialized. A Blended Capital approach increases the impact of financial capital investments by including voluntary human capital investments (employee volunteering) toward shared organizational and community objectives.

In 1992, the phrase “The economy, stupid” brought attention to an opportunity for a different way of thinking during a US presidential campaign. Do we need to be so blunt, to trigger an embrace of existing research, evidence and tools to put people at the heart of our work?

Join us and explore the benefits of employer support of volunteering and innovation in community investment. Who knows? We might simply discover a workforce that’s more engaged, more committed to achieving organizational results and more prepared to contribute to a better world.

Canada 150 celebrations!

Over the course of 2017, many LBG Canada companies are celebrating Canada 150 with engaging programs and initiatives.

For example – Imperial Oil. The company is donating an estimated $6 Million of artwork to Canadian museums and galleries, including pieces by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris. Various pieces of his work will be gifted to the National Gallery in Ottawa and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

Imperial has a strong history in Canada and so does its art collection. The company has been collecting art for more than 70 years with the goal to support Canadian artists, contribute to Canadian culture, enhance the work environment for employees, and provide public awareness of the visual arts.

In total, 43 pieces will be donated to 15 museums and galleries across Canada, in honour of Canada’s sesquicentennial.

For more information, visit: http://www.imperialoil.ca/en-ca/community/community-investment/operating-communities/art-community-investment?parentid=21057b8e-9df5-4819-82f1-bb2eaf2e0595.

Meet the Interns!

This summer, we have three awesome interns to support SiMPACT’s LBG Canada and SROI work: Andrei Flueraru, Andy Muth and Irune Echevarria.

Andrei Flueraru, in the Toronto office, is involved in a variety of projects including an SROI on the value of food security programming in Northern Ontario, IMPACT 2030 measurement and finalizing the B Corp status of SiMPACT. He will be entering his fourth year in the Commerce Program at Queen’s University, is enrolled in the Queen’s Smith School of Business (Certificate for Social Impact) and is chairing the Queen’s Commerce and Engineering Environmental Conference.

 

Andy Muth, working out of the Calgary office, is a third year student studying at the University of Victoria. Andy was recently accepted as an Honours student, in both Mathematics and Statistics. Over the summer, Andy will be dabbling in LBG Canada data and assisting Bryan Thiedemann, Manager Data Analytics & Special Projects) in illuminating interesting management facts about community investment, volunteering and giving that stem from the LBG Canada data pool.

 

Irune Echevarria is pursuing a Masters in Sustainability Management at the University of Toronto and has a BA in International Relations, with a Graduate Diploma in Social Development. At SiMPACT’s Toronto office, Irune is advancing the incredibly complicated Social Return on Investment (SROI) evaluation of the Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund for the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Growth, formerly MEDEI).

 

 

 

LBG Canada Increases Total Community Footprint by $115M, with Stakeholders

In 2016, stakeholder contributions enabled by LBG Canada companies totalled $115 Million.

$54 Million of that total was employee giving!

 

90% of LBG Canada companies have a matched giving program, typically this involves the company matching dollar-for-dollar a charitable donation made by an employee. Some companies choose to match at a rate of 2:1 for donations made by executives. Matched giving essentially doubles the contribution and conceivably incentivizes charitable behaviour by sending a positive message to employees about the company’s commitment to community.

Matched giving can be completed through payroll deductions and several systems exist to facilitate the process such as United Way, Benevity, Sponsorium and others.

An excellent tool for group fundraising is United Way and we encourage you to read the article posted last month on the SiMPACT website about ENMAX’s positive experience with the United Way. Fundraising activities can be a catalyst for socialization among employees and foster a sense of community at work.

As our friends at Realized Worth would say, it’s important to let employees choose to direct their donation to a charity/charities that matter to them. While the company may have a priority focus area for charitable investments, a matched giving program is equally about honouring employees and the causes that matter to them.

It’s well known that the Millennial generation represents an increasingly larger proportion of the workforce. When you consider that 81% of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship (IABC), tools such as a matched giving strategy can be used as part of an integrated employee engagement and recruitment strategy.

In summary, employee giving can be an effective way to not only maintain/increase total community investment, but also contribute to an employee engagement strategy. When you consider the average contribution per employee is $206.26, what could that mean for your company?

Community Investment in Tough Economic Times

As companies navigate the economic climate, community investment budgets are often impacted. OIl & Gas, Mining, Manufacturing, Forestry, Retail… the list of companies working through change is endless and ever-changing itself!

Among those that have experienced declines in community investment budgets, companies within LBG Canada demonstrate that a community footprint can be maintained, in partnership with stakeholders.

Between fiscals 2015-2016, 65% of LBG Canada companies demonstrated a decline in community investment expenditure, by an average of 17%. And yet, 30% of those companies increased expenditure in community regardless of a decline in the amount of company investment. Of the companies that managed to increase their stakeholder involvement, this increase represented a change from a decline of 7% to an increase in community impact of 9% on average.

This result has been particularly noticeable in Alberta, where companies have seen tangible participation increases in employee giving programs, in a time of staff layoff, reduced salaries and lower levels of corporate expenditure.

How was this increase achieved? Companies leveraged their stakeholders in two different ways: through increases in employee giving, and through leveraging the contributions of external stakeholders.

Companies that increased employee giving, did so with an average increase of 25% in the contributions made to community by their employees. Those that created an increase through their external stakeholders, whether through direct funds or the contribution of in-kind goods, had an average of 60%!

Though economic uncertainty might have an impact on program budgets, employees and other stakeholders might welcome the opportunity to participate.

Through good times and in bad, how well are you engaging stakeholders?

 

Impact Thinking Enables Strategy

Early in 2016, the LoyaltyOne Corporate Responsibility team was tasked with relaunching the community investment strategy.  Two priorities were clear. Finding opportunities to impact a community issue and engaging LoyaltyOne associates in the process.

As part of their LBG Canada involvement, the team enrolled in a webinar on impact measurement. In that first session, exposure to the LBG Impact Measurement framework launched a strategy path that enabled leadership engagement, increased associate involvement and created opportunities to deepen relationships with new and existing community partners. Gaby Polanco-Sorto, Associate Director, Corporate Responsibility, shares the LoyaltyOne journey and how the LBG impact measurement framework contributed to the new strategy.

 When did you decide that you were going to relaunch your community investment strategy and embark on this process?

Gaby: It happened about a year and a half ago when our CEO shared with us his vision for our community investment strategy. He asked us to identify a theme for our community investment program, a theme where we could have a real, tangible impact. to the goal was to  identify a theme where we could leverage our associates’ interest and passions,  while making a real impact in the community. He wanted to ensure our program had a tangible strategic purpose.

How did you get to the place where you had an idea that you wanted to present to your senior leaders for them to consider?

Gaby: We did interviews and hosted working sessions with our associates to really narrow down what they were passionate about, where they were spending most of their time volunteering, what causes they were giving to; and from that research we were able to identify that programs to impact marginalized children and youth were of real interest to our associates. This is how we came up with the Youth Empowerment Program.  

How did the LBG impact measurement framework help to shape your thinking?   

Desired Impact

Gaby: We had an ‘ah ha’ moment when presented with the concept that all investment in community is about people, organizational or environmental impact.  Identifying where we wanted to have an impact would help us narrow our focus enough to help us make strategic decisions, while not becoming too narrow that it stifled innovation and creativity. We knew we wanted to engage our associates in programs that impacted people.  We knew we would meet CEO expectations if we focused on impact that improved and transformed lives.  

Did the experience lead you to engage with community partners differently? 

Desired ImpactGaby: Absolutely.  We knew that we wanted to have measureable impact, but we let our community partners come to us with ideas on how to impact marginalised children and youth within our primary areas of interest.  

We shared with them the LBG impact measurement framework concept, which stimulated conversation about how their programing could achieve our impact goals.  The framework allowed for flexibility and actually gave the charities more power to let us know what kind of impact they could help us achieve.  After all, they are the experts working in the frontlines. 

Gaby and her team used the LBG impact measurement framework to the fullest. It framed communications between the team and executives, with community partners, and in training of the CEO appointed Youth Empowerment Council as well as LoyaltyOne associates who volunteered to participate on the Associate Donations Committee.

Gaby: When we set up our Youth Empowerment Council to review proposals over $25,000, we included this framework  as part of their training and said this is how we want you to think about impact. This framework helped to shape the type and depth of impact we hope to achieve.

The feedback from that training was extremely positive.

Gaby: It became so clear to everyone, the impact that we wanted to have, without having to create numbers or dashboards. It gave the Council a better sense of how we hope to work with our community partners. It gave us the tools to think strategically, on an on-going basis about the decisions we were making.  It also helped to create a genuine partnership with charities, and redefined the relationship we had with charities we had already been supporting for years.   Most importantly, charities told us they appreciated not having to spend their valuable resources on trying to meet unrealistic reporting requirements that would not reflect the impact they were truly making in the communities.  

We presented the framework in the exact same way to our Executive Team as we did the Youth Empowerment Council and our community partners. Every group appreciated that transparency, and understood that we really want to work as a collective unit to achieve our goals.

Do you think you’ll use the Model on an on-going basis as you roll out your strategy?

Gaby: I absolutely think that it will be on-going. At the end of this year, we will be asking our community partners for a progress report of qualitative and quantitative data using this framework – but the actual metrics will be theirs. 

We will then be able to go back and say this is the framework we used to identify impact, and this is the actual impact we’ve had this first year. We’ve used the LBG Model as a key concept of our strategy.

Two-to-three years from now we want to be able to engage with our clients, charities, government and other corporate organizations that are focusing their efforts on children and youth with the intention of using this framework to help find opportunities for us to collaborate.  

Our senior leaders really value the strengthening of existing partnerships that the Youth Empowerment Program provides, but also recognize the exciting possibility of presenting this across the larger LoyaltyOne community of stakeholders.  

One last thought to share with other interested in impact measurement?

Gaby: Simple is better!!!! Too much effort is often put on measuring impact than actually creating impact – so focus less on numbers and more on a framework that will guide your decision making process. 

For more information on LoyaltyOne’s Youth Empowerment Program visit https://www.loyalty.com/about-us/corporate-responsibility.html

For more information on the LBG Model and the Impact Measurement Framework, please visit lbg-canada.ca 

LBG Canada