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Community investment gives corporations a decisive edge in the talent war: survey

Community investment gives corporations a decisive edge in the talent war: survey

Press release

Toronto, November 12, 2019

Eighty-six per cent of employees who are convinced their company is highly committed to community say they are ‘extremely or very likely’ to stay in their job for the next two years, according to a new study from Imagine Canada.

The 2019 Corporate Community Investment Report, entitled Profit, Purpose and Talent: Trends and Motivations in Corporate Giving and Volunteering, shows conclusively that high levels of community engagement lead to long-term business advantages.

The research underpinning the report included the opinions of 1,506 private sector employees and a survey of 65 leading Canadian corporations in community investment. Collectively, these corporations invested $592 million in communities over the past year.

“This report sends a nuanced message,” says Bruce MacDonald, Imagine Canada’s president and CEO. “Employees who believe their company is genuinely committed to community are more likely to stay; more likely to be loyal; more likely to share common purpose and more likely to recommend their company to others. But the research also shows businesses don’t get these benefits unless community investment is done well. The commitment to creating social value must be authentic and deeply embedded in a corporation’s DNA. Dabbling in donations won’t influence employees.”

Key Findings

  • 50 per cent of employees surveyed say they considered their employer’s reputation for charitable and community work before accepting their position
  • 28 per cent say they would be willing to take a pay decrease to work for a more socially responsible company

Among employees who believe their company is highly committed to community:

  • 84 per cent are extremely or very satisfied with their job compared to 46 per cent among others
  • 59 per cent say they are very likely to recommend their company versus 23 per cent among others
  • 47 per cent strongly agree they share a common social purpose with their company compared to 16 per cent among other

"Talent, which is key to the success of any business in any sector, has never been more mobile than it is today,” says Susan Scotti, Executive Vice- President, Business Council of Canada. “That’s why Canadian companies are doing more to invest in their communities and the organizations that make them flourish”.

Workplace donation programs inspire generosity

The study also reveals high potential for growing employee giving. Among those working for companies with payroll deduction programs, employee donation matching and giving campaigns, 79 per cent reported they donated to charity versus 47 per cent among those with no workplace donation programs. As well, 76 per cent of those surveyed say they now regularly support a charity they learned about at work.

Mobilizing highly motivated employee groups to create social value has significant implications for Canada’s social fabric.

Demand for the essential services provided by the charitable sector is expected to spike over the next decade, creating a “social deficit”. This means in a few years charities and nonprofits will need $25 billion more than they have today to meet spiraling demand. This forecast is based on current demographic trends and average GDP growth of 1.8 per cent (source: Parliamentary budget office and Conference Board estimates).

This sharp rise in demand is taking place amid steadily declining donations from individual Canadians. Between 1997 and 2017, tax-filers claiming a charitable donation dropped from 27 per cent to 20 per cent (source: Statistics Canada). Canada’s aging population, personal debt and slow economic growth suggest this trend is unlikely to change.

In contrast, corporate donations have risen steadily in recent years as leading companies have recognized the business benefits of creating social value.

“Socially committed corporations and their employees are a bulwark against the social deficit, and the untapped potential for private sector community investment is enormous”, says MacDonald. “Visionary corporate leaders need to recognize community investment as the means to attract the workforce of tomorrow and take their commitment to community to the next level. This would be a win/win for business and the millions of Canadians reliant on the services of charities and nonprofits.”

Corporate Community investment trends

The 65 leading corporations examined in the report were selected for their community expertise. Five over-arching best practices were identified that define leadership in creating social value:

  • integration of community investment into the corporation’s overall business strategy
  • embedding community commitment into the company’s mission and purpose
  • setting clear community investment objectives and measuring impact
  • investment in underlying infrastructure, systems and processes including technology and innovation
  • much higher employee participation rates than other companies

Many of the 65 leading Canadian corporations surveyed are members of Imagine Canada’s Caring Company Program Caring Companies. These corporations have agreed to invest one per cent of pre-tax profit in building stronger communities.

The full study is available online at:

Imagine Canada

Imagine Canada is a national charitable organization whose cause is Canada’s charities. Our three broad goals are to amplify the sector’s collective voice, create opportunities to connect and learn from each other, and build the sector’s capacity to succeed. Corporate community investments are an integral part of Imagine Canada’s vision for a vibrant and strong charitable sector. Imagine Canada’s Caring Company designation encourages companies to adopt a leadership role as investors of 1% of pre-tax profit into stronger communities. | Twitter: @ImagineCanada | Facebook: /ImagineCanada

For further information:

Leslie Booth
Xposure PR
(416) 427-1588

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