Community Investment through TELUS Community Boards
|In domains||CBSR, Giving Back to the Community, Telecommunications|
|Participants||Canadian Business for Social Responsibility - CBSR|
Canadian Business for Social Responsibility member TELUS was recently named the top philanthropic corporation for 2010 by The Association of Fundraising Professionals, being the first Canadian company to ever receive this global honour. A large component of this success is the company’s community boards, the brainchild of TELUS president and CEO Darren Entwistle and Janet Yale, TELUS EVP and National Chair of TELUS Community Boards. The two created the community boards in 2005, a unique community investment program in which TELUS delegates the responsibility of funding charities and programs to the community in which it operates.
“Community boards localize TELUS' national community investment strategy ensuring that funds are donated to support the areas of greatest need in each community," says Jill Schnarr, vice president of community investment and engagement at TELUS.
Responsibility is held in the hands of nine TELUS Community Boards across the country, with 60% of the boards made up of people who have a “pulse” on the needs of their community, while the other 40% of the board is made up of TELUS team members.
In order to be nominated to a TELUS Community Board, board chairs/vice chairs determine where there is a need for expertise specific to the community and put potential candidates names forward. Eventual picks are approved by Entwistle directly.
The application process encourages that charities and organizations are sustainable over the long term and provides a section for an organization to identify the outcome of its funding.
TELUS boards do not accept proposals for multi-year funding but will provide support in year two in cases that a significant impact has been demonstrated. TELUS also does not dictate specific outcomes that an organization must achieve, recognizing that each organization is different and its objective is to meet community needs.
TELUS has seen the number of applications increase significantly over the past two years, although the company is not sure if it is due to increased need due to the economic recession or the increased awareness about the program. This increase in applicants has brought the challenge of saying no.
“It’s really difficult to say no to organizations who are doing something very valuable in the community – at our Vancouver Community Board, they have been receiving around 150 applications per meeting, but are able to only approve 10-15,” says Schnarr .
Despite this challenge, TELUS' community boards continue to be an example of an innovative community investment program.
In 2009, TELUS donated $4.1 million through its Community Boards, with the focus being on projects that support youth and innovation.
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