I joined TELUS just over five years ago, following a 23 year career in health care, 13 of which I spent as a cancer fundraiser. When I left the not-for-profit sector to join TELUS’ Community Affairs team, I was accused of going over to the “dark side.” How could I leave the philanthropic world in favour of a “big bad corporation?”
Perception is reality. And, to be honest, I shared a similar opinion of big business as my friends and colleagues. The key for me was that I had seen TELUS’ involvement in the community first hand.
Now that I’ve experienced corporate philanthropy from the inside, let me set the record straight. Large Canadian companies have a long history of giving back. And today, more then ever, corporations like TELUS recognize that it’s not just the right thing to do – it’s a critical part of their business because doing good now plays a significant role in gaining loyal customers and attracting the best employees.
Imagine Canada deems a company “caring” when it gives back 1 per cent of its pre-tax profits to support charitable endeavours in Canada. There are currently 100 companies listed as “caring” on Imagine Canada’s website, yet more than 2,500 large (more than 500 employees) companies are registered in Canada. I am certain that more than 100 large companies in Canada give back more than 1 per cent, but what baffles me is why we don’t hear them and those they help speaking out proudly about these contributions?
TELUS is one of these proud Imagine Canada Caring companies and gives back well above the industry standard on an annual basis. In 2012, 2.45 per cent of our pre-tax profit went to support local projects that impact youth in our communities across Canada.
In fact, last year, TELUS, our team members and retirees gave more than $43 million to local charities. And, since 2000, we have contributed more than $300 million and volunteered 5 million hours of community service.
As corporate social responsibility becomes more strategic and more closely aligned with a company’s business objectives, companies that don’t strategically align their giving to their raison d’être are putting themselves at risk of not being sustainable over the long term. And, we know what that means – if a company isn’t sustainable neither is its ability to give back to the community.
Fortunately, a growing number of companies are now contributing to causes that directly impact their business, engage their customers and align with their employees’ interests. This type of thinking leads to sustainability in both the business and the charitable sector and, importantly, a better outcome for all Canadians.
Here’s a look at just some of the things we are doing at TELUS to help build stronger, healthier communities:
- Healthcare is a top priority – last year, we gave $12 million to Canadian organizations focused on health
- Since 2000, we’ve donated $7 million to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes
- We’ve given $5.5 million in the last five years to breast cancer research and early detection
- Since 2000, we have given $6.8 million to organizations dedicated to protecting natural habitats
- We have given more than $5.2 million to animal causes since 2000
- Committed to helping youth reach their full potential, we’ve given $100 million to education programs since 2000
And, I am proud that we have received prestigious recognition for our commitment to doing good in the communities where we live, work and serve.
- In December 2012, TELUS received the inaugural Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award recognizing the contributions our company and our team make through volunteerism in our communities.
- In 2010, the TELUS team was recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals as the world’s most philanthropic company.
So, do I regret my move from the not-for-profit sector to TELUS?
No, in fact I pinch myself every day that I get to work in my dream job – a job that helps make a positive change in the lives of so many – and with a company and team that not only shares my values and my passion for volunteerism, but leads the charge in making a difference for others.
Shannon Gorman is the National Director of TELUS Community Affairs. Follow her @CICanadaGal on Twitter.