Senior director, SAP Concur Canada

My son, Owen, was born with a congenital heart defect. He has endured countless surgeries and medical procedures. At the age of 3, he went into heart failure. We approached Make-A-Wish Canada to have Owen’s wish granted; Owen wanted to become a firefighter. His wish was granted – and seeing him light up, smiling ear to ear, was priceless. My son, now 10, loves to look back at the pictures and will never forget the day his dream came true.

In the years since, I’ve raised awareness and funds for Make-A-Wish as a supporter of the magic the charity creates for so many families, including my own. Some of the most rewarding work I’ve been able to do for this organization has been in partnership with my workplace.

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Charitable initiatives can have tremendous impact on individuals, organizations and communities. We can all agree that giving back is the right thing to do and we can all benefit from the positive feelings we get from helping others. What’s more, organizations that actively support their employees and allow for the charitable causes that are close to them can see the benefits multiplied internally and externally. By working toward a shared goal outside of business objectives, charitable initiatives build a positive and strong corporate culture.

For the past few years I’ve championed charitable initiatives through my own workplace. My experience has been overwhelmingly positive, in large part because I’ve had an employer that wholeheartedly encourages and actively participates in these passion projects.

Just this past June, seven SAP Concur colleagues and I rappelled down Toronto’s City Hall, raising funds and awareness for Make-A-Wish through its Rope for Hope event. Not only was the business engaged in fundraising by matching donations, but global executive leadership made a point to participate, reinforcing from the top how important activities like this are in our organization. My team was able to do something positive for the community, and in turn we felt closer as a team, were re-energized in our day-to-day work and felt a strong sense of pride in our organization.

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Brian Veloso rappels down Toronto’s City Hall, raising funds and awareness for Make-A-Wish through its Rope for Hope event.

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The enthusiasm before, during and after this event underscores why it's so important for businesses to support charitable initiatives, and why managers and business leaders need to create opportunities for staff to present charities they want to support. But most of all, it showcases why it's critically important that employees of all levels feel empowered to bring forward charities they are passionate about.

People often want to get involved in fundraising but don’t know where to start. Having opportunities to do so through a workplace breaks down that barrier. Business leaders should find out how their company works with charities, as many have pre-existing relationships, dollar-for-dollar matching programs or processes for bringing new initiatives forward. This information should be communicated to teams, so they are familiar with the ways to get involved with corporate citizenship programs.

But the responsibility shouldn’t rest solely on managers and leaders to initiate corporate citizenship projects. Individuals who are passionate about a certain cause should proactively bring it to their workplace and see what the possibilities are to support it through corporate citizenship. In my experience, this has led to more impactful and meaningful volunteer opportunities.

The moral reasons for supporting charitable initiatives are obvious, but it can also provide unexpected benefits to organizations and employees. It’s always good to bring new ideas to your organization, so don’t wait. And when it comes to supporting charities, you never know whose dream you might help to come true.

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