If you work in the community investment space, chances are, you’ve asked yourself this question.…
“May you live in interesting times” is usually considered a jinx, not a blessing. And we can likely all agree that the past few months have been “interesting” as the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way our communities and organizations function, with many LBG Canada companies stepping up to support those in need during these challenging times (as featured in more detail below). There is, however, something profoundly monumental about living in a period when systemic racism and the structures that uphold it are being shaken to their foundations. As community investment professionals this world-wide movement against injustice and inequality has a considerable professional impact, in addition to the personal reckoning that many of us have recently grappled with.
Collectively, LBG Canada companies invested north of $500 million in 2019 (not to mention nearly $4 billion in total in the past decade). These funds have a substantial impact on the social landscape within Canada – at this scale they truly “move the needle,” so to speak, and effect significant and measurable change. That is, after all, the goal of the LBG Canada network – to create and measure positive corporate social impact. Many of us have recently looked for ways that we can personally contribute to transforming things for the better, and for those who manage a community investment program and steward major financial resources, this question is raised at work as well. How do we, as community investment professionals and companies address this within the organizations and initiatives we fund?
LBG certainly doesn’t have all the answers – our next steps will be to bring LBG Canada companies together to better understand and measure the impact of community investment on Indigenous inclusion and reconciliation, as well as ongoing anti-racism efforts, with the ultimate goal of developing best practices and strategy recommendations. While we tackle this work, we’re sharing some of the resources and works that we’ve been reflecting on lately below. If you have resources or projects that your company is undertaking that you’d like to add to the list, please share it with us!
- The Globe and Mail’s “Colour Code,” originally released in 2016, is a 13-episode deep dive into meaningful and difficult conversations about race.
- “Code Switch” from NPR, hosted by journalists of color, explores how race impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between.
- Through Coursera, the University of Alberta offers a twelve-week course that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. This can be completed for a certificate credit or non-credit.
- From the University of Toronto, a comprehensive anti-black racism reading list.
- The Edmonton Public Library has compiled an Indigenous reading list on colonization, fallout, and reconciliation.
- From the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, a list of actions taken by companies in the United States to support the movement against racial inequality.
- From Harvard Business Review, an article outlining how stakeholders are increasingly demanding that companies approach social good as a necessity, not a marketing strategy.
- The Stanford Social Innovation Review synthesizes a Bridgespan report on funding biases against marginalized communities and the organizations that support them. The full report is also available here.
On the Radar
- Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship webinar “Responding to Crises: Agile Corporate Citizenship” – July 22
- Volunteer Canada’s “ChangeMakers@Work” webinar series – access available from July 13 until September 30
- Social Value Matters 2020 Conference “People, Planet and Power” – September 28 – October 2. Social Value Matters is an annual conference organized by Social Value International, in collaboration with social value networks around the world. These networks share a common goal: to change the way society accounts for value. This September, Social Value Canada is convening #SVM2020: People, Planet & Power on behalf of the SVI network. Speakers include local, national and international thought-leaders, and practitioners from across the social value agenda. Far too often, key decisions about economic growth, environmental impact and social policy are made using a limited concept of value that fails to consider important effects on people and the environment. As the gap between rich and poor increases and the effects of climate change become more apparent, the need to change the way society accounts for value has never been more urgent.
- Realized Worth article “How Employees Decide to Participate in Volunteer Programs.” Chris Jarvis, Executive Director of the Realized Worth Institute, explores how employees decide to participate in volunteer and giving programs. From motivation to benefit, barriers to solutions, Chris gives a step by step guide to engaging employees for lasting success.
- Corporate Citizenship article “Technology and Coronavirus: Friend or Foe?” Corporate Citizenship explores the good and bad of technology as it begins to play a deeper role in communities as governments explore digital solutions to end the crisis.
The LBG Canada network is also undergoing some changes as well. Recently we welcomed a new member to our team, Brett Clapperton, as Director, Community Investment & LBG Canada. Going forward Brett will be the main point of contact for all things LBG – give her a shout with any questions or for support!
Brett has a background in community investment and corporate communications in the energy industry. She helps create strategic charitable partnerships with organizations across Canada, working to connect communities, people and charities to help the companies address local and global issues. Before starting her professional career, Brett completed a degree in Classical Studies at McGill University. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), this turned out to be less useful than planned, as opportunities to translate Ancient Greek in the working world have been few and far between!
LBG Canada also has a new and improved website – take a look around and let us know what you think!
LBG Canada company response to COVID-19
This year, Giving Tuesday looked a little different. #GivingTuesdayNow launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and LBG Canada companies led the way in impact and generosity.
TD – TD has launched the TD Community Resilience Initiative. TD will allocate $25M through funding, employee engagement and on-going collaboration with organizations and community groups that operate locally, regionally and nationally. More information here.
TC Energy – From May 5 to 19, TC Energy’s #BetterTogether campaign matched public donations at 200% up to $500,000, to further support COVID-19 relief efforts across North America. This matching program is in addition to the $2.6 million TC Energy has already contributed. More information here.
Cenovus – Through the Cenovus giving program, employees are able to choose organizations meaningful to them to donate towards, Cenovus then matched their donations. Together with those employees, Cenovus has raised more than $285,000 for local COVID-19 support groups. More information here.
UFA – UFA has announced a donation of $60,000 to COVID-19 relief in the communities they serve, $19,000 of which is being directed to local food banks and other initiatives that require support. More information here.
ConnectFirst Credit Union – ConnectFirst Credit Union believes that non-profits are essential to life in Alberta, so they created an online donation matching program to give back to those organizations who need it the most. More information here.
TELUS – TELUS has donated 10,000 devices + wireless plans as part of their Mobility for Good program to help vulnerable Canadians stay connected during COVID-19. More information here.
Our friends at Canadian Business for Social Responsibility are also constantly updating their Canadian Business Responders List, click here to see some of the new additions!
Spotlight on Unity Values
In light of the pandemic, the charitable sector has taken a significant hit, and many corporations have begun fast-tracking their giving programs to help get the money into the hands of those organizations who need it the most as quickly as possible.
However, this fast-tracking often requires that previous approval procedures or stakeholder input are put on hold, leaving companies wondering what impact their dollars are actually having in community, and whether their stakeholders care. Enter the Unity Values Foundation.
Unity is a technology platform that allows organizations to donate to any number of registered charities through the Unity Values Foundation. In addition to a more streamlined administration process, Unity takes into account the importance of employee and stakeholder engagement when it comes to making an impact in community.
“The goal is to help increase the capacity of the charitable sector by helping businesses create relationships with their employees, customers and other stakeholders,”
says Stephen Skinner, CEO of Unity Values and the Unity Values Foundation. “By asking what types of causes mean the most to them, we strengthen relationships between employers, employees, customers and charities. This often increases the amount both individuals and businesses are willing to give, thus increasing the capacity of the sector.”
“We start by asking companies whose opinion matters the most to them. Is it your employees, your customers? How do you communicate with them? We then ask them what charities those stakeholders are most willing to support,” says Stephen. “The answers to those questions allow us to effectively match companies with registered charities in the areas where they operate, based on their outlined criteria.”
In addition to working closely with companies, the Unity Values Foundation also works with the end of the line charity to help them communicate the impact down to the project level. If a company donates $10,000 to a charity, Unity will work with that charity to report back on the specific projects that were moved forward as a result of that donation. This allows the company to better share their impact story with their stakeholders.
While COVID-19 has provided an increased sense of urgency around giving programs, Unity hopes to create loyal on-going relationships with their companies and charities, allowing for sustained impact over the long-term.