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Increasingly, employees are looking to work with a company whose purpose and values align to their own personal beliefs – and ‘walks the walk’ in how they show up at work and in the community. Many large companies are responding to that need by shifting existing corporate giving programs to more employee-led efforts, enabling them to support causes that mean the most to their employees. RBC created the RBC Communities Together Fund (CTF), a program that combines funding with employee-led volunteering. Teams of three or more employees choose a local charity, apply for a $1,500 grant, and then complete a two-hour volunteer activity in support of the cause. In its launch year, the program aims to support 1,500 projects globally – totaling more than $2 million.

“Working for a company that supports causes that are important to me – it means a lot,” says Lori Smith, Regional Director, Community Marketing, Communication & Citizenship, RBC. “It makes me happy that the bank supports, encourages and rewards me for volunteering. It makes me feel valued. It makes me want to do more.”

This support is far from an afterthought, adds Rachel MacLeod, Senior Manager, Corporate Citizenship Communications, RBC. It’s a large part of the RBC employee experience. “We have amazing benefit plans, wellness plans, retirement savings; all these benefits of being an employee. I just love that volunteerism and community support is part of that standard package now. I think people look for that when they consider a role because it says a lot about what type of organization they are joining.”
Through employee feedback, RBC found that it was important to employees to have a voice in identifying and problem-solving with causes they feel a connection to and appreciated the choices offered by the CTF.

“Many RBC’ers are deeply connected to their communities. Programs like CTF help them prove it. They get to make change with their local charities,” MacLeod adds.

Recently, MacLeod and Smith, along with three colleagues, took part in a volunteer effort at LakeCity Works, an organization that helps people living with mental illness build on their strengths, take on responsibilities, and access work experience, education and employment.
Smith, a member of the board of directors for LakeCity Works for six years, says she knew right away she wanted to support them when the CTF was announced. She says food insecurity is a real challenge for LakeCity clients so the organization is starting a new program focused on nutrition. “We painted the kitchen area where all of the activity will take place – teaching the clients about nutrition, showing them how to make soup, and a bright cheery space where they will enjoy the fruits (or soups) of their efforts,” she says.

The impact of volunteering was clear. By combining their efforts, the RBC team was able to dedicate a total of 10 hours of work – time that LakeCity staff could redirect to other work. Not only did they make a difference at LakeCity, but Smith noted that it was incredibly heartening to see her team’s enthusiasm and willingness to support such an important organization. And the CTF even helped to purchase kitchen equipment, including blender, a double warmer and commercial grade kitchen knives.
The Communities Together Fund is inspiring refreshed enthusiasm for volunteering among RBC employees, according to Smith. As COVID restrictions started to ease, one of the most frequently asked questions was, “When can we start volunteering again?” This eagerness to connect with the needs of their local communities and make a positive impact demonstrates the power of supporting causes that align with employees’ values and interests. By prioritizing employee-driven initiatives and fostering a culture of volunteerism, companies can create a sense of purpose and fulfillment. 

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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject matter discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.