Open Giving Format Encourages Employee Giving

Best Buy’s 12,000 employees are enjoying the retailer’s new employee giving program that matches 40 per cent of their donations to registered Canadian charities. The retailer’s new open giving program, called ‘myGiving’ launched in June.

“We’ve had lots of really great feedback,” says Karen Arsenault, Manager, Community Relations at Best Buy Canada Ltd. “People are excited about the program because they often have personal connections to charities and want to give back, whether it’s in support of a family member that has gone through cancer or helping a friend participating in a run or a ride in support of a specific charity.”

The program uses a simple online tool that makes giving to charities that “are near and dear to our employees’ hearts” really easy. Employees use their corporate ID and password to sign in to make a one-time donation or set up recurring donations through payroll deduction, credit card or PayPal. “Many of our employees have been giving to the charities of their choice for many years,” says Arsenault. “They love the 40 per cent match because it stretches their dollar a little bit further and demonstrates that Best Buy supports the charity that they are passionate about.”

Prior to the myGiving program, Best Buy focussed its employee giving on their annual United Way campaigns. And while the company is still a big supporter of United Way, it decided to move to an open giving format to better support employees in their individual choices for giving.

Once they log into myGiving, employees can pick from a long list of causes or nominate other charities that don’t already appear on the site. If an employee makes a donation outside the program, they have an opportunity to upload their tax receipt to receive the corporate match and employees can also share causes that matter most to them for their colleagues to see and consider supporting. As long as it’s an eligible registered Canadian charity, Best Buy will match 40 per cent of the donation up to a maximum of $350,000 over the year. Employees are also invited to get involved in the retailer’s local and national community initiatives focussed on connecting kids with technology.

Whether an employee gives a lot very year or nothing at all, Best Buy wants them to know about the myGiving program. “Even if they don’t use it, we want them to feel good about the company they work for and come to work feeling connected to their employer, coworkers and community,” says Arsenault. “That’s something that people are valuing more in the workplace these days.”

Giving in Tough Economic Times


Over the past two years, Cenovus has intentionally supported organizations and causes that have experienced increased demand during the downturn – focusing on basic needs, mental health and vulnerable populations with more philanthropically-motivated donations.

When the price of oil was around the $100 mark, the community investment team at Cenovus was carefully investing millions of dollars in three strategic areas that aligned with both the integrated oil company’s focus areas (learning, safety and well-being, and sustainable communities) and their business values.

And then, in 2014, the price of oil plummeted to $27.

Alberta was thrown into a brutal recession. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs across the province. The community investment team at Cenovus – itself drastically reduced in both number of employees and budget – started looking more at refocusing their strategy on what people in the community needed to survive.

In 2016, they committed nearly $300,000 to 25 organizations including food banks, breakfast, lunch and nutrition programs, and community kitchens. Over $340,000 was invested into eight organizations providing mental health services across Alberta.

“We weren’t caught up with ‘this has to be part of our long-term strategy’,” says Vicki Reid, Cenovus Director of Community Affairs.

While the community investment strategy adapted with the economic circumstances, the Cenvous team stayed true to its values. One of the team’s first principles was to honour existing agreements and continue open and honest communications with community partners. The team also developed exit strategies for agreements that were due to end and looked for other ways to support organizations.

Staff giving/volunteering activities were encouraged through matching programs, and non-monetary donations like office space, computers and kitchen equipment.



“People have appreciated our honesty and understood this shift in focus,” says Reid.

“They’ve also appreciated that we are still looking at other ways we can support their work beyond just financial contributions.”

The community investment team at Cenovus , which have been part of the LBG Canada since 2011, sees business benefit and community benefit on a spectrum. “Sometimes it’s on one side more heavily and sometimes it’s on the other side more heavily,” says Reid. “And sometimes there is a sweet spot where they are perfectly balanced.”


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:

“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’?

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.

ompanies 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?


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?

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?   

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? 

Gaby: 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

For more information on the LBG Model and the Impact Measurement Framework, please visit