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Giving year round

Corporate citizenship boosts loyalty and more

Employee donation matching, company sponsored volunteerism, team-based fundraising — it’s a far cry from the days when corporate giving was little more than a PR stunt; the presentation of an annual holiday cheque to a company-endorsed charity.

Nowadays, many organizations are taking a more integrated and interactive approach to corporate giving, building it into employee and customer initiatives all year long. And with good reason. Giving back has gone from annual photo op to all-round business booster, with benefits that include better recruitment outcomes, higher job satisfaction rates, and increased customer loyalty, not to mention the brand halo that comes with doing good.corp_citizens

And if those weren’t reasons enough, empowering both employees and clients to give back to their community is also beneficial to your organization’s bottom line.

According to jkgroup, which analyzed statistics from the 2015 CECP (Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy) Giving in Numbers Brief, “companies with the strongest growth in giving for community-related programs also had the strongest financial growth, confirming a clear correlation between corporate philanthropy and financial performance.”

Further, “Companies with integrated corporate citizenship programs saw a 2.2x increase in access to new markets and a 2.3x jump in employee retention. Overall, corporate citizenship translated into fewer sick days, lower corporate expenses, higher profits and overall business success, and lifted company shares.”

Giving is good for business

For credit unions with community giving as part of their cooperative principles, giving back has never been more important — and more beneficial. Just ask Susan Byrom, senior manager of community investment at First West Credit Union (240,000 members, $10 billion in assets). She says First West’s strategic integration of its community investment program with employee interactions has increased staff engagement while creating direct and lasting benefits for the communities in which it operates.

“Increasing employee interactions with our signature cause programs, local food banks, and education programming has been very successful”
—Susan Byrom

“Increasing employee interactions with our signature cause programs, local food banks, and education programming has been very successful,” she said. “We have transformed our community investment from the traditional cheque-writing perspective to a more involved approach, which has resulted in increasing our presence in the community.”

Integrated giving is on the rise among Canadian credit unions. A 2014 Credit Union Central of Canada social responsibility report showed a 33 per cent increase in donations and sponsorships, and a 30 per cent increase in charitable donations by Canadian credit unions over 2013.

Furthermore, 62 per cent of Canadian credit unions that responded to the Credit Union Community Involvement Survey in 2013 said they offered paid compensation for community volunteer work.

This is the case at First West, which focuses its giving around four areas: community leadership, education, social sector, and food banks. Through its divisions — Valley First, Enderby & District Financial, Envision Financial, and Island Savings — First West has invested nearly $10.5 million to support its community partnerships, programs, education awards, philanthropic donations, and in-kind contributions since 2010.

And its giving goes beyond simply writing corporate cheques. “Employees at First West give back time and money through volunteerism and employee giving,” Byrom says. “Our annual Employee Giving campaign provides employees the opportunity to direct donations through payroll giving to First West Foundation endowments, local community partners, and the United Way.”

First West also offers paid time off for volunteering. “During 2014, First West employees volunteered 5,136 hours — the equivalent of 685 work days — in their communities,” Byrom says. “We believe that feet on the ground are as vital to our non-profit partners as the dollars we provide. I like to say that we wrap our arms around them.” ◊

Short form: the goods on giving

Credit unions that offer paid compensation for community volunteer work

Increase in donations and sponsorships in 2014 compared to 2013

Increase in charitable donations by Canadian credit unions in 2014 compared to 2013 ♦