Published on December 14, 2022
From fundraising to volunteering, companies have a lot to offer when practicing social responsibility.
Building resilient communities requires a collective effort.
While individuals and governments play a pivotal role, corporations of all sizes are also a critical part of the solution. Companies across the globe are increasingly focused on their environmental and social impact. Corporate citizenship initiatives don’t just aim to lessen the negative — they show how organizations can contribute and make a positive impact in their communities.
“Companies are a part of our society and play an important role in creating a better future,” says Suzy Wilcox, Director, Development at Evergreen.
“At the end of the day companies are made up of many people who care about where they live and work. Large companies can help move the needle on important issues. They can help catalyze movements for change with their significant financial, marketing, and human resources.”
Often labeled corporate social responsibility, companies are exploring various methods to contribute to the wellbeing of communities they impact.
One path is modifying their operations to help reduce waste or emissions or improve employee conditions. This might mean building greener office spaces, improving infrastructure, sustainable sourcing and procurement or promoting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Other strategies often focus on philanthropy or community investment.
“Corporations are important partners in helping to improve the health and well-being of people and our planet by investing in projects that have a purpose beyond their bottom line,” adds Wilcox.
Need some ideas for your organization? Here are a few popular examples:
Fundraise for a charitable cause: Companies often identify charitable organizations based on causes that are important to employees, are local, or are directly related to the company’s mission. Many employers also sponsor charitable matching programs where they match employees’ donations and contribute to organizations where employees volunteer significantly.
Offer space to the community: Businesses can make an impact by donating money, time, skills and even space. Unused real estate — anything from office space to warehouse space — can be valuable to the community for programming, storage and so much more.
Organize volunteer opportunities: Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer in the community, even offering paid days they can spend volunteering. This can be a team effort, or employees can volunteer for a cause they’re especially passionate about. There’s even virtual volunteering, where you can contribute your time and skills over the internet.
How impactful can volunteering be? Very — for both the volunteers and the charitable organization.
Manulife, for instance, is proud to engage their people globally through giving and volunteerism. Through their employee engagement programs, the company matches personal philanthropic donations dollar for dollar, up to $4,000 per person, per year. Manulife volunteers recently visited the Gateway Bike Hub as volunteer bike mechanics, getting trained to help fix used bikes and prepare them for Pick-Up and Giveaway Days (where the bikes are given to community members in need).
The Gateway Bicycle Hub is a community project that encourages the repair and repurposing of bicycles. The hub is a partnership between the City of Toronto’s Community Reduce & Reuse Program, Evergreen, The Neighbourhood Organization and Flemingdon Health Centre. It is also generously supported by Manulife as part of their Impact Agenda and commitment to empowering sustained health and well-being in the community. The Gateway Bike Hub benefits from many, many volunteers, including some from Manulife.
Before signing up to volunteer, Sara Afshari Nejad was only familiar with riding bikes — not repairing them. But Sara, a Manulife volunteer, wanted to get involved with an impactful community initiative.
“I was interested to see how the Bike Hub works,” Sara says. “I loved the positive energy. I really believe this will help the community by providing bikes to those who can’t afford one of their own.”
Thanks to Manulife and other volunteers, the Bike Hub was recently able to repair 100 bicycles, which will be donated to children and adults throughout December and January. Since 2019, the Hub has provided more than 1,500 bikes to individuals in the community.
In addition to being part of an impactful initiative, Sara says the experience also provided the chance to pick up new skills.
“I learned so much about patching flat tires, testing brakes, fixing the rims and spokes and finding pieces that can be reused.”
The Gateway Bicycle Hub is generously supported by the City of Toronto’s Community Reduce & Reuse Program and Manulife.