Nov. 10, 2016

Corporate partners helping World Vision lift families out of poverty


Originally from the National Post .

October 5, 2016

In GBK Financial’s cafeteria, you will find photos of 36 children from Africa, Asia and South America posted on the wall for all to see. Those pictures are a particular point of pride, since they represent the children the family-owned mortgage agency has sponsored through World Vision.

“Every time we walk into our lunchroom and see the pictures of the kids, it reminds us of what we are here for,” says Tim Brown, partner and mortgage agent. “As a business, we have an opportunity to make a difference.”

Working with World Vision is more than just giving money to individual children, he adds. “The reality is, with every sponsorship, we are helping a community get access to education, medicine and clean water. And there are so many different ways you can help – for example, providing small business loans. That’s what we really like about World Vision.”

Brown says his family will continue to do its part in helping children in communities around the world. “We will grow with World Vision as the years go by. There are just so many different ways that you can give to them. So every year we sit down and look at how much we have and challenge ourselves on how much more we can give. It keeps us grounded.”

GBK Financial is one of a large and growing family of Canadian companies working with World Vision in a variety of ways – from in-kind and child sponsorships to employee volunteering and emergency support. “Last year over 600 businesses across all different industries, from small to large, supported and partnered with us,” reports Neil Parekh, corporate development advisor, World Vision.

In the more than four decades that World Vision has worked with corporate partners, involvement has evolved, he says. “Some of the earlier relationships were largely transactional. Since then, there has been a real transformation. Now it’s much more strategic around putting programs in the field. Many companies today have corporate social responsibility programs in place and are very involved in who they partner with, what causes they are supporting and how they are engaging employees, customers and stakeholders.”

Sara Lewis, also a corporate development advisor with World Vision, says studies indicate that companies that partner with charities do a better job of engaging and motivating staff. “Employee engagement is the core reason why companies choose to partner with organizations like ours. That translates into more loyal staff, better productivity and ultimately a stronger bottom line.”

Engagement can sometimes start at a very young age, she says, citing the example of FlapJack Kids, a producer of children’s wearables. The owner’s 12-year-old daughter was interested in helping children around the world. Together they launched The Ivy & Alex™ Dress Project, in which funds are donated to World Vision projects with every sale of a specially designed convertible dress. Each colour represents a specific project. For example, a blue dress represents clean water, green is for nutrition, pink for education and healthcare, and red for emergency relief.

“Young people are looking to make a difference. We are seeing more and more of this today,” Lewis says.

Highcastle Homes is another company that has been partnering with World Vision since 2009 through corporate donations programs. Its support has funded a number of World Vision projects in Ethiopia, and training and support for impoverished farmers in West Africa, as well as global emergency efforts, including the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and the Philippines typhoon in 2013. A staple project for the company is World Vision’s program to help at-risk women in Cambodia.

Burnbrae Farms egg producers has helped World Vision in a different way. They have been subsidizing the hens and roosters programs so that families around the world can start sustainable small businesses, sell chicks and eggs in markets and provide better nutrition for their own families.

“Here in Canada, my children are lucky to have access to safe and nutritious foods. But around the world, many children and their families aren’t so fortunate,” says Margaret Hudson, president. “The hen and rooster program was the perfect way we could reach out globally. Eggs are the perfect protein. Even one egg a month can help boost a nutrition profile.”

She says the program has helped their own business expand its community support efforts globally. “Hens and roosters are also easier to supply and provide opportunities for families to generate income. World Vision doesn’t just provide the poultry. They also provide the resources to make sure chickens are vaccinated and have proper housing to prevent the risk of disease and ensure the program is resilient.”

Hudson, who has also sponsored two children through the program, adds, “It’s been a wonderful partnership. World Vision does such great work supporting developing countries and lifting children and families out of poverty with sustainable solutions.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of World Vision.