Building partnerships and corporate responsibility: Unlimited possibilities
Executive Vice President
Government & Community Affairs
RBC Financial Group
Success By 6 - Report Back to the Community Event
Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Thanks very much for the introduction Rob
to join you this afternoon - to share some perspectives about
building partnerships and corporate responsibility - the unlimited
Before we get started, I want to assure you that a banker
and early years development, is not an oxymoron. As well,
my collaboration with union boss Buzz Hargrove on an article
having to do with funding child care (in the February 17th
edition of The Globe and Mail), isn't as unusual as people
may think. Rob Cushman and Shirley Westeinde likely know what
I mean. When Rob spoke at a "call to action" breakfast
meeting earlier this year, co-hosted by John Sheridan and
Bell Canada, he started by saying "If you are half awake
- you are probably wondering why you are listening to a public
health physician, not a child psychologist, a child psychiatrist
or even a pediatrician, talk to you about child development."
And when Shirley speaks about child development, there may
be some people who wonder, what's contracting and construction
management got to do with it?
The answer is simple. Partners and partnerships come together
for many reasons and in many different ways. The key is to
imagine the possibilities
Congratulations to Rob, Shirley
and the Success By 6 Council of Partners for imagining the
possibilities. As a founding partner, Rob's story speaks for
itself. As a business executive, Shirley's story speaks volumes.
The time is now to convince corporate Canada to take a more
active interest and leadership role in supporting early years
development and care. The private sector needs to understand
that investing in children is good business. Rob and Shirley's
leadership - everyone's leadership in this room - goes a long
way in helping to do just that.
In my case, I'm involved in supporting early years development
and care because it's an economic investment that requires
more federal, provincial and municipal government action.
Through our work at RBC Financial Group, my colleagues and
I can help influence public policy and public opinion. After
all, the development of human capital at an early age is key
to a successful economy.
I'm involved because it's an economic investment that needs
corporate/business action. As a business leader, I have a
responsibility to push the envelope on high priority issues
- and what's more important than children? I'm also involved
because it's an economic investment that requires more community
action - kids are everybody's business. Integrated early years
programming is one of the best investments communities can
make. As a children's advocate (and parent), the only way
to make a difference is to get involved and get others involved!
Let's begin by setting the partnership environment stage
I see two ongoing trends affecting the relationship
between the corporate and not-for-profit sector. The first
trend is that corporations around the world are increasingly
conscious of the benefit and the necessity of being, and being
seen as, good corporate citizens. Secondly, corporations are
becoming more strategically and actively engaged - contributing
resources and knowledge, as well as dollars in order to help
build a healthier society. The bottom line is that building
partnerships and corporate responsibility are anything but
Corporate responsibility and good corporate citizenship is
about the marketplace: are we conducting business responsibly;
it's about community: are we assuming a leadership position
with investments and issues pertinent to our business and
customers; it's about the workplace; are we treating employees
well and encouraging/supporting their participation; and it's
about the environment: are we taking care of our surroundings
- the air we breathe - the energy we use?
At RBC, when our focus is on building partnerships with the
not-for-profit sector, our focus is also on corporate responsibility.
However, whatever happens in the economy, or the external
political/social environment, will obviously impact the private,
not-for-profit and public sectors - it will also impact strategies,
decisions, action plans and relationships.
For example, although Canadian fundraising remained relatively
strong in 2002 (according to a survey released on March 24,
2003 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals), "fundraisers
listed a myriad of reasons impacting their fundraising efforts
including increased competition for charitable dollars, government
budget cuts and drops in corporate support/sponsorship."
Many smart-branded organizations (like United Ways) are operating
with the right leadership/people, well planned/executed campaigns,
new initiatives, sponsorships, foundation-driven donations
etc., and are reaping rewards and rising contributions - attracting
more corporate donors/support. Branding, borrowing best practices
and board governance will go a long way in making a difference
with corporate Canada - in pushing the right buttons, talking
the language and ultimately securing support. That's because
this is also about corporate responsibility.
"Canadians increased their charitable giving by six
per cent in 2002 to $5.8 billion, Statistics Canada reported
last week. There's a swelling volume of cash out there to
be collected by charitable agencies, but the givers are better
educated than ever before, more experienced in business methods
and possibly choosier about the structure and methods of the
charities they will support. The charities world may face
increasing pressure to establish standards for reporting what
they did with the money and what results they achieved. Pictures
of wide-eyed children won't suffice anymore once donors start
asking." A similar scenario applies to corporate supporters.
Overall, I'm confident that the resources and expertise of
the private sector will continue to converge with the not-for-profit
sector, including resurgence in government support (federal,
provincial and municipal), which is already manifesting itself.
For example, it's clear that the federal government (via the
February Budget) made a solid financial commitment to early
childhood education and care. It's also clear that children's
issues are at the top of Paul Martin's list of social concerns
- a proposed child care program will be on the discussion
table. And I'm sure the November 2002 report, "A National
Child Care Strategy - Getting the Architecture Right Now"
(a report of the National Liberal Caucus Social Policy Committee,
chaired by MP John Godfrey - Don Valley West in Toronto, in
collaboration with the Caledon Institute of Social Policy)
will serve as a solid framework for moving ahead. As your
MP from Nepean-Carleton, David Pratt's commitment to the welfare
of children is evident in the work he's done as Canada's special
Envoy to Sierra Leone. (Great to see John and David here today.)
And the Liberal government in Ontario, with the leadership
of Marie Bountrogianni and the creation of the new Ministry
of Children's Services/Citizenship, promises changes in many
areas including initiatives that benefit parents with young
children (e.g. child care).
"Success By 6 is building partnerships among the public,
private and voluntary sectors to raise awareness about the
early years and to focus resources on early child development.
Dr. Fraser Mustard believes this initiative has the potential
to make a major shift in how resources are allocated in the
Ottawa area as well as increase those resources. The result
should be a significant increase in Ottawa's early child development
United Way/Centraide Ottawa-Carleton (the lead agency), school
boards, the Regional Municipality, Public Health Unit, Social
Services Department, the Senators Foundation and a host of
community organizations have already made Success By 6 a unique
As many of you are aware, the Success By 6 Community Action
Plan identifies five main areas for attention and investment
in Ottawa-Carleton. They are: supporting parents, promoting
healthy births, promoting early learning programs/school readiness,
promoting the protection of children from abuse and neglect,
as well as supporting neighbourhoods and building safe/caring
communities. The overall Report Card this year is C+. On the
bright side, this grade is par with the June 2002 Report and
shows modest gains on the supporting parents and neighbourhoods
side. However, I can only echo the view that "C+ simply
isn't good enough for our city's children." Too many
children don't have a permanent home. Too many children must
rely on food banks. Among other groups, it's time for business
leadership to step up to the plate in greater numbers and
with a stronger voice. There's no telling what future Success
By 6 Report Cards will look like when that happens
After all, the Success By 6 brand (a "community builder,
convener of change and lead supporter of social impact")
is at the forefront of innovation and opportunity. It offers
high visibility and measurable outcomes, plus sets the stage
for building and strengthening collaborative relationships
with numerous partners in the community and throughout Ottawa/Carleton.
Success By 6 is good for business
it's poised for ongoing
success and partnership momentum.
Strong partnerships can have immense power. I don't pretend
to have all the answers, but because RBC Financial Group is
involved in partnerships that include representation from
various sectors, I will say that we're well on the way to
having a solid working knowledge of what makes a partnership
work. If you're serious about creating/negotiating partnerships
with business, here are some proven strategies and tips -
what I often refer to as Advocacy 101 - to consider:
1. Get to know your partners/your
audience. A partnership is a relationship where the
players are stronger together than they are alone. It's a
two-way street and an ongoing balance of power. Successful
partnerships like successful relationships take time and care.
Your team should have a base of knowledge about your potential
corporate partners. Who is the CEO? Who's on the board of
Directors? Who are the major influencers? What do they care
about? What are their hot buttons/target markets? What is
the corporation's community involvement? This means ongoing
research, a robust database or someone to manage the information.
It makes a difference to know what motivates people/organizations,
otherwise you can't engage in relevant communication with
them. When you're developing proposals, position papers or
memos, remember to incorporate private sector language. Talk
to their policies, their interests and their priorities. Read
their literature/surf their web sites. Align your cause and
timing with their agenda.
2. Know the issues and keep current.
Are you familiar enough with your organization's facts/issues,
not to mention Success By 6s and those of the broader not-for-profit
sector? Are you familiar with a potential partner's donations/sponsorships
focus? Do you know a key contact in target corporations? Do
you know key contacts in the private sector that can refer
you to other partners - help make the introductions? Do you
know your federal, provincial and municipal government contacts?
Should you know? I suggest you should. Know the pulse of the
public, the media and your constituencies.
3. Ask partners for advice.
If you want a corporation's money, get the right people ("influencers")
interested. Asking for advice is an incredible compliment
to people. It's amazing how quickly money will follow once
a person and a corporation's passion is engaged in a cause
or a project.
4. Don't just ask for money.
Treat partners the way you want to be treated. Look beyond
a partner's chequebook and think community investment. Engage
people's minds and their expertise.
5. Share what you know and keep in
touch. One of the most precious assets we all have
is our intellectual capital-the value of what we carry between
our ears. Share your expertise with corporate partners. Think
long-term. Let partners know how you're doing - this is another
way to say thank you. Show partners that you're making a difference
in your community and that they've made the right choice by
investing time and resources in Success By 6 and in your organization.
What's the best way to get in the door at executive levels?
If you have a connection, this usually helps. Develop a strategy:
What are your objectives? What are the principles/priorities
for funding? What is your project description, goals/activities
and budget? What is your strategic and communications plan?
What are your expected results and outcomes? What about national
partnerships/collaboration? Do you have letters of support?
Have you considered joining forces with similar interest groups?
In a nutshell, be prepared, know your "sound bites",
network, write articles and get your name on invitation lists,
i.e., corporate annual meetings etc. If I can be a sounding
board of support, please let me know
Working together, getting connected and staying focused all
comes down to leadership and communication. We can't achieve
great things alone. In 2003, building partnerships and corporate
responsibility is more encompassing; it includes good governance,
operating with ethical business practices, creating and maintaining
employment etc. Nurturing knowledgeable employees, clients,
business/government/not-for-profit sector partners, as well
as community infrastructures that consist of bright and innovative
people, is in our interest - the national interest. Our thinking
and doing continues to evolve.
When we invest in the training and development of our own
employees - we're building knowledge. When our people serve
on not-for-profit sector boards, we're building knowledge.
When corporations support the not-for-profit sector, that's
also building knowledge. By contributing both financial and
human capital to community institutions, corporations can
help embrace a true knowledge society. RBC's Employee Volunteer
Grants Program is one way we support and encourage vital community
connections. Employees that devote a minimum of 40 hours a
year to a registered charity are eligible for a $500 RBC grant
donated to the organization in their honour.
The underlying goal of our corporate citizenship programs
is prosperity for Canada/Canadians. To achieve this, we support
education and learning, as prosperity depends on well-developed
minds - intelligence, imagination, ingenuity and innovation.
We continue to foster relationships with business, government,
communities and our own employees to help meet our goals.
Making a community difference is a shared responsibility.
Partnerships encourage business to be catalysts for change
- to show their heart. What a great way to build a civic/civil
society and promote social development. More times than not,
best practices are almost always about partnerships.
For example, the RBC Foundation announced $1.3 million in
funding for our 2003/2004 after-school grants program. This
community investment is part of our ongoing commitment to
children and education. To be chosen for a grant, recipients
must offer structured, supervised activities in what we refer
to as the "3 Ss" environment: safety, social skills
and self-esteem. Activities include: computer instruction,
sports, literacy tutoring, music and art lessons, nutrition
guidance, and homework-help.
There's always a place for business in the community as corporations
(large, small and in between) are part of the community. Just
ask Kim Haliburton and Cheryl Burwash from Bell
ask Peggy Morgan who works with me in government and community
affairs in our Ottawa office or John Emerson, who leads sales
and marketing in Ottawa - Kim, Cheryl, Peggy and John are
with us today.
Success By 6 has a unique contribution to make to this community.
All of you have a unique contribution to make as well: from
Jan Harder, Jim Orban, Anne Wright, Arlene Ross, Lise Skinner,
Alison Tranter, Mary Wiggin and Bev Wilcox, to Eleonore Benesch,
Cheryl Heywood, Mary-Anne Kirvan, Cynthia Asp, Carol Burke,
Aaron Burry and Julie McCurdie, not to mention Suzanne O'Byrne
and the Success By 6 team (if only there was time to name
each and every one of you), this room is filled with champions
and partnerships in action. Thank you to Michael Allen of
United Way for inviting me to participate in this event
last but certainly not least, a special thank you to Success
By 6's Linda Steele for coordinating this luncheon and my
As you know, just last month, the Academy of Canadian Cinema
and Television, recognized our good friend at CTV Ottawa affiliate
CJOH-TV, Max Keeping, with the Gemini Humanitarian Award for
his contribution and commitment to community and public service.
Max makes a difference in everything he does which is why
it's more than fitting for him to present the second annual
"Making a Difference" Awards today. Congratulations
In closing, I understand that several members in the audience
spent the morning in the "Building Corporate Partners"
workshop. We could probably learn a great deal from the group
about the subject
hopefully, this presentation will provide
food for thought during the Q/A at this afternoon's partnerships
in action session. I'm counting on you to engage David Vickers
(Ontario's Promise), Pat Finucan (St. Lawrence College) Ruth
Foster (Bell Canada), Murray Gordon (Success By 6) and each
other in questions and debate that will eventually lead you
along the path of unlimited possibilities. As for the rest
of us, let's consider unlimited possibilities now!