For the IWK Foundation, nurturing corporate social responsibility is a privilege

Posted on July 01, 2021 | Sponsored Content | 0 Comments

Jennifer Gillivan, President & CEO, IWK Foundation


Privilege isn’t a word the IWK Foundation uses lightly. For the funding arm of IWK Health – the centre of excellence in specialized health care for women and children across the Maritimes – it’s the reason to rise and shine each morning.

“If you think about the work we do every single day, my colleagues and I get up every day to try and make things better,” says President and CEO Jennifer Gillivan. “That’s our purpose. That’s our goal. That’s our social justice. That’s what we do. That’s our privilege.”

That’s also their focus as they apply their message of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the hundreds of businesses and public organizations whose generosity, each year, helps fund critical equipment, programs, research and new facilities at the IWK. Happily, the response has been enthusiastic and growing.

“Post-pandemic companies will be adapting to employees and customers who want to believe that businesses stand for more than the product or service they are providing. We have the opportunity to provide mutually beneficial opportunities for corporate donors and partners to speak to this need both in employee engagement and customer loyalty,” says Gillivan. “Partnering with the IWK Foundation in a customized CSR program will provide an unparalleled opportunity where everyone wins and feels good about working with or supporting companies who embrace this model.”

This may explain why corporate giving to the IWK is not only on the rise to meet the needs of the organization, it’s evolving in tailored ways. “More and more organizations feel ownership to play a role when the role is part of an integrated social-impact strategy,” says Hillary Forsyth, the Foundation’s Manager, Community & Corporate Giving. “Cause-partnerships are ever-evolving and today’s businesses are now expected to maximize their return in the impact their generosity produces.” 

To this end, the Foundation works with organizations to customize support for their employees, customers and promotional teams – to put their best foot forward in specific ways that make sense to their individual values, commitments and priorities. That may involve matching corporate-employee donation programs to social media support of customer-facing fundraising activities, providing fundraising-support materials, and in-person visits and collaboration with team members.

Says Forsyth: “We are fortunate to work with organizations who have embedded their corporate social responsibility into much of what they do. By working with them – no matter the size, industry, or location – we’re able to generate benefits for, and also benefit from, enterprises who put CSR at the highest rung on their ladder of priorities.”

In fact, Gillivan says, this is what differentiates the Foundation in the field of charitable giving: “Where we’ve spent a fair amount of time is developing our creative approaches – to create content and to tell stories on all platforms. We have an amazing connection to patient families who really do give up a lot of their time to share their personal journeys, because they’re so grateful to the IWK. We’ve created a really robust set of tools that we can adapt and customize depending on the needs of the company we’re working with. Our message is that we look forward to working with you because your customers and employees are looking for this.”

This kind of commitment is, of course, a two-way street. When the pandemic hit, the Foundation made thousands of personal phone calls to its many donors – not to ask for donations but to check in, and to tell them what their support has meant. For Gillivan and her team, the outreach cut to the heart of their definition of the word privilege. 

“We feel our communities are ready for hope,” she says. “Nothing creates hope faster and better than seeing some of the wonderful stories their loyalty has helped create for women, children and families. We do not take that loyalty for granted. When we say what we do is a privilege… We really mean it.” •

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