Workplace giving and the reward of giving back

On June 18, 2015, WWF-Canada’s workplace engagement program Living Planet at Work hosted a night of celebration to mark the end of a successful Spring Things fundraising campaign. David Miller, WWF-Canada’s president and CEO, spoke about how workplaces are helping WWF-Canada achieve important conservation goals, and shared some of the unexpected benefits that workplaces have experienced from giving back.
Spring Things is WWF-Canada’s workplace fundraising campaign – where CEOs and employees alike endure a freezing plunge and a towering climb to raise much needed funds for WWF-Canada’s conservation work. From ‘polar dipping’ in Lake Ontario to climbing 1776 steps to the top of the CN Tower, this year employees from more than 40 companies rallied for the environment and raised $170,000 in just eight short weeks.

The funds raised through Spring Things supports WWF’s work to demonstrate what’s possible in critical projects across Canada. Projects range from monitoring and protecting polar bears to supporting the development of marine protected areas.
While supporting conservation work and results is the primary goal of the campaign, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the unintended benefits our participating workplaces have experienced.
In our second year, we heard from workplaces that campaigns like Spring Things can foster employee engagement and mobilize employees on an issue they already care deeply about and are already engaged in. According to Lloyd Bryant, Managing Director of HP Canada, “what is gratifying is that our belief in a new way of mobilization is working – giving business two things it needs: engaged employees and footprint reduction, and also a source of a new fundraising for WWF and the environment.”

Employees of HP Canada at the 25th Anniversary CN Tower Climb  © WWF/Canada
Employees of HP Canada at the 25th Anniversary CN Tower Climb © WWF-Canada

The campaign also creates a platform for showcasing corporate sustainability efforts. Take Lindt & Sprüngli (Canada) for example, whose Green Committee launched an internal sustainability scorecard challenging employees to complete actions like taking sustainable modes of transport to work, reusing office supplies, reducing paper consumption and fundraising for WWF’s CN Tower Climb.
One of our main lessons learned this year is how important it is to secure senior leadership to maximize impact and generate support from employees. On that note, the success of our Spring Things 2015 campaign was due in large part to the support of the Spring Things CEO Committee – a group of business leaders who stood behind the campaign and who collectively, with their employees, raised nearly 60% of the total campaign funds.
We would like to extend a special thanks to the Committee and workplace champions for their outstanding support of Spring Things and the work of WWF:

  • Lloyd Bryant, Managing Director, HP Canada, co-chair of the Committee and his internal champions Gillian Hrycko and Frances Edmonds.
  • Rudi Blatter, President & CEO, Lindt & Sprungli (Canada) and internal champions Erin Gordon and Stephanie Nakamura.
  • Gord Hicks, President, Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions and internal champions Sarah Jane Wolch and Pearl Lee
  • Allister Paterson, President, Canada Steamship Lines and internal champions Stephanee Legault and Stephanie Gilbert
  • Stuart Wanlin, Executive Vice President, Bentall Kennedy and internal champions Melissa Jacobs and Stefanie De Adder

More about WWF-Canada’s workplace programs:
In 2011, with the support of HP Canada, WWF launched the Living Planet @ Work (LP@W) program, helping businesses to engage employees in sustainability. Four years later, LP@W now has 1050 workplace green champions and more than 860 companies who are leveraging the platform to inspire change at work and find greener ways of doing business for the good of their company and the planet.
In 2014, with a contingent of passionate green champions already promoting sustainability in the workplace, LP@W forayed into ‘the next phase of corporate sustainability”− the integration of philanthropy into corporate environmental efforts. Thus, Spring Things was born as an employee engagement and fundraising campaign.
To celebrate the end of the successful Spring Things fundraising campaign, WWF-Canada invited the Honourable John Godfrey, climate change adviser to the government of Ontario, to give “A Historian’s Perspective on Climate Change”. Find a summary of this keynote speech here.