More and more Canadian companies invest in their communities to strengthen the relationship between the sponsor company, employees, and community in which their plants, office buildings, and facilities are based. Some companies have social responsibility or marketing budgets while others invest through different foundations. There are many ways to contribute to the welfare of local communities such as offering surplus products, providing pro-bono services, donating items and equipment that are no longer used or needed.
Based in Manitoba, Vale is a global mining company that invests in local communities through charitable donations, sponsorship, and volunteerism. The company works with local suppliers, employs local workers, and is committed to building infrastructure and reducing its carbon footprint. In cooperation with Manitoba Hydro, Vale has successfully minimized energy consumption through compressor and pump upgrades, installation of energy-efficient windows and insulation, and lights replacement. The company also built the Vale Living with Lakes Centre in Sudbury, Ontario. The goal is to offer scientists at the Laurentian University the unique opportunity to study aquatic systems. The building itself incorporates eco-friendly features to recycle, treat, and collect rainwater and utilize geothermal energy.
Financial institutions also invest in communities, including Coast Capital Savings, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Assumption Life, DUCA Financial Services Credit Union. Coast Capital Savings, for example, offers cash to employees to donate to a charity of choice as well as time off for volunteering. What is more, 7 percent of its pre-tax profits are allocated to local communities on an annual basis. Assumption Life offers mortgage loans and insurance coverage and awards a total of 13 scholarships worth $10,000. Like Coast Capital Savings, the company allocates 1 percent of its annual profits to projects with a focus on enhanced work skills and education. DUKA Financial Services Credit Union is yet another financial establishment that invests in community projects to help eliminate poverty and contribute to financial inclusion. Other establishments that actively work to support local communities include Renewal Funds, Rally Assets, NBTA Credit Union, and Libro Credit Union.
There are a number of benefits to investing in local communities, among which improving employee retention, building a positive reputation, developing strategic relationships, and many more. Social investment pays off. Businesses enjoy improved employee recruitment and involvement and enhanced collaboration between employees at work. Community programs are also ideal for team building and bonding. Companies and communities benefit from corporate investment in many ways. Projects are implemented in local communities to reduce carbon emissions and water and air pollution, improve infrastructure, and contribute to disease prevention and treatment.
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Pay it forward refers to the practice of responding to a kindness or good deed of another person by doing something nice to other people. In Canada, there are different campaigns, groups, and organizations that work to encourage acts of kindness and make a difference.
The Winkler Community Foundation is based in Manitoba and offers grants and funds for social and family services, seniors, recreation, the environment, culture and arts, and more. The foundation organizes the Pay It Forward May campaign which is a 1-month initiative organized in cooperation with the Morden Area Foundation. The initiative encourages people to clean up public spaces, donate food items to food banks, visit old people in nursing homes, and donate to the foundation. Other ways to get involved are to look after someone else’s children, donate clothes to charities, and even smile to strangers.
Brice Royer from Vancouver developed a rare stomach cancer and after extensive research, he came to the conclusion that pollution, food, and trade and the economy are to blame for his condition. He embraced the idea of a gift economy and started a Facebook group based on the principle of giving freely as an act of kindness. Members offer different gifts, including a minivan, graphic design help, a dryer, women’s wellness retreat, and a Bahamas/Florida cruise.
Project Impact SK is another local initiative and a group in Regina which was founded by Jacyntha Laviolette in 2016. The group prepares nutritious soups that are offered to people in need.
Another group was founded in Regina to encourage people to freely give without expecting anything in return. The group has a Facebook page, and members offer gifts such as sweet treats, barbecues, and food items to prepare sandwiches for people in need. The group administrators prepare sandwiches each Wednesday and offer lunch bags to economically vulnerable people.
Feed It Forward is a version of the concept whereby Canadian producers are encouraged to donate unsold and unused items to secure food for people who cannot afford to buy it. The Feed Families Freezer Program was created by executive chef Jagger Gordon to offer nutritious meals to qualifying Canadian families in the Greater Toronto Area. Hot meals are offered to people in need, including economically vulnerable and homeless people. This is a non-profit program that encourages food manufacturers, grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants to donate food instead of throwing it away.
Pay It Forward Day is held in Canada as part of a global initiative organized in more than 80 countries around the world. Countries such as Denmark, Croatia, Brazil, Austria, Australia, and others take part in the event. In Canada, provinces that are involved include Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Alberta. People are encouraged to spread a word about the campaign in social media, donate to different causes, and host activities in their communities, churches, schools, and offices. Businesses are also welcome to take part in the initiative, donate, encourage their employees to participate, and organize inter-departmental competitions that help bring a positive change. Schools and universities are encouraged to participate as well and film stories of kindness. They contribute to the welfare of local communities by recycling cans and bottles, helping families with home renovation, visiting nursing homes, and other acts of kindness. A number of schools in Canada take part in the initiative, among which Ft. Murray’s Composite High School, San Gabriel’s Gabrielino High School, Glendale’s Glendale High School.
Lakelander Darlene Doskoch is the founder of Pay It Forward Canada, and he actively works to recognize the initiative as a Canadian national holiday. Her efforts brought success in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Yukon.
Businesses also organize Pay It Forward initiatives, one example being Tim Hortons. The company released 100 special-edition cards to encourage customers to share 10,000 free coffees. The initiative was organized for National Coffee Day and in support of the pay it forward movement. Customers holding Tim Hortons cards were offered free coffee and encouraged to pass along the card to someone else, be it a complete stranger or a friend.
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