Let’s support companies who give back to the community! BCAIM Luncheon – by Jen Schaeffers

Let's support companies who give back to the community!
Reflection and summary of BCAIM Luncheon on Community Marketing
By: Jen Schaeffers, Founder,

Yesterday I attended the BC Association of Integrated Marketers (BCAIM) luncheon on Community Marketing. I am a big fan of BCAIM event's. They have had a history of STELLAR President's (two of whom I used to work with at Intrawest back in the day), food is always great (they usually hold their luncheons at the Four Seasons), I always meet at least three new people, catch up with about 10 people I've already met and their discussion topics and panelists are second to none.

As you may know, I am all about corporate responsibility, philanthropy and giving back. My full time job is running a children's charity here in Vancouver that focuses on providing grants to children with special needs. I love my job. I love our organization and I really feel that we make a significant impact in the community and to children that need it most. SO it's important to me, that the companies I choose to purchase from have the same mission – giving back!

I've worked in the corporate world, I know it's all about the almighty dollar. I get that. But there are some companies that should be admonished for how LITTLE they do given their profits and there are some companies that should be COMMENDED for just how ingrained philanthropy is in their organizational mandate.

Two companies that are kicking butt at this are TELUS and Vancity. Both featured panelists at the BCAIM luncheon – Jill Schnarr, VP of Community Affairs TELUS and Richard Seres, VP of Marketing, Vancity.

To start off Mike Rowlands – Principal, Junxion Strategy gave a compelling presentation on how great organizations are really shifting their thinking when it comes to philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. Junxion Strategy works to catalyse social and environmental progress to build a better world. I had never heard of them before but I am pretty sure I would love to work for them in the future!

There was so much great information that Mike shared, but the nuggets I took away were:

  • There is a big shift happening right now in demography. Over 1,000 baby boomers are retiring every day in Canada. They are smart, energetic have experience managing and want to give back (and have the time to do it!)
  • The rise of social media is making openess and transparency paramount. The great brands will see this as an opportunity and not a threat (and will capitalize on it).
  • Great brands pursue giving back with profit. It is a part of their core business.It's not just about giving away money (that's good!) but the great companies are pursing FULL SPECTRUM RESPONSIBILITY.

Vancity has a great philosophy. “We make you good money by putting your money to good. Good Money™ is changing how we see wealth and transforming the place where we live. It is members helping members meet their financial goals no matter how big or small. It sees the big picture and supports organizations that are sustainable now so that we can all be better off in the future. It gets behind growing organizations and understands that what goes around comes around, back to our members’ prosperity. At Vancity we’re about being good with money and that means investing in communities”.

I encourage you to read more about what they're doing.

My disclaimer is that I love TELUS. I have many friends that work at the organization. But that's not why I love them. I love them because they take community investment seriously. Seriously people. So serious that in 2010 they were awarded the Top Most Philanthropic Corporation in the WORLD. In the world. There's a lot of companies in the world the last time I checked. First Canadian company to ever receive such a high honour.

Their philosophy around community investment is entrenched in their business model, their strategic priorities, their employees and even their retirees. Yes, they still keep their retirees engaged and active in the community, even after they stop working for them.

  • $46 million distributed last year, which is 3% of pre tax profit (guidelines set out by Imagine Canada suggest 1% for organizations)
  • $7.1 m distributed nationally through employee charitable giving program in 2011
  • 557,000 volunteer hours through employees in 2011

I hope you can boast that your telecommunications company does that. If you can't, I'd consider switching. I did. Specifically for this reason. I am what you say a “brand advocate”.

I don't take corporate social responsibility lightly. If I am giving you my money, you better as sure be giving back something in the community or I'll take my money elsewhere. It's time for consumers to start putting pressure on organizations that are doing a terrible job at this. Ask for it, demand it, or switch your loyalty to the companies that are doing it right. We're all in this together, right?

Thanks to TELUS and Vancity for showing us the right way – how companies can make profit and do a world of good in the community. How making a positive impact in the community can actually be a really, really great return on investment.

Follow along on twitter: @networkinginvan

Stay tuned for future BCAIM events. Great networking and professional development!


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One Response to Let’s support companies who give back to the community! BCAIM Luncheon – by Jen Schaeffers

  1. meliss604 May 4, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Great post, Jen. It was a fantastic event. I’m leading up some community engagement for my department, and there was a lot I took away from this!

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