When Jetaasi Verma first moved to Canada in 2016, she didn’t know where to start with networking and finding a new career. That’s how she found herself at the YWCA close to her home in Hamilton, Ontario.

“As soon as I walked in, everyone said, ‘Welcome to Canada!’” says Jetaasi, who works in data strategy at RBC in Toronto, Ontario. “I made so many connections, I even learned to swim there as an adult! After a few years when I’d started working at RBC, I realized I wanted to give back to the community and the YWCA.”

PHOTO: JETAASI VERMA

Photo: Jetaasi Verma

After volunteering for a few years, Jetaasi became a member of the YWCA Board and started contributing to their philanthropy committee, helping to organize events and fundraising for initiatives like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an award-winning walk to raise awareness and funds to prevent rape, sexual assault and gender violence.

With every volunteering activity, Jetaasi tracks her hours in RBC’s giving platform, myCommunity. The global platform allows RBC employees around the world to engage with their community through volunteering and donations, enabling RBCers to easily support the charities of their choice.

By participating in volunteering opportunities, RBCers can earn reward dollars to donate back to their favourite charities. So far, Jetaasi has earned $600, which she’ll donate to the YWCA. As a global organization with 94,000 employees, these efforts add up. Recently, RBCers celebrated a milestone of 1+ million volunteer hours, so the company unlocked an additional $1 million for employees to donate to their favourite charities to show appreciation.
Donations add up

It's one of the many ways that RBC “walks the walk” when it comes to community involvement. In 2023, RBC donated more than $169 million through cash donations and community investments, while the annual Employee Giving Campaign (a company-wide effort to support thousands of charities through personal contributions) saw over $23 million in donations.

As a global company with a broad number of volunteering opportunities shared on RBC’s internal platforms, employees say it’s easy to find a local cause to support.


“Twelve years ago, our son was diagnosed with cancer,” shares Kristen B. who works in Business Risk with RBC Wealth Management in Minneapolis. “He’s now 13 and cancer free. At the time, my husband and I had a vision to make backpacks for pediatric patients that were oncology patients in Minnesota. That vision has transformed into a massive nonprofit in Minnesota that is heavily supported by RBC employees who want to get involved in giving back to the community.”


Gaileyn Sawyer is a Mortgage Specialist at RBC in Nassau, Bahamas and has been volunteering with the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) for two years, helping to protect and conserve the wildlife and environment close to home.

“I wanted to find extracurriculars that spoke to my passions, and I’ve always been fascinated with BNT,” says Gaileyn. “Both of my parents – especially my father – always had an appreciation for nature and the simple things in life.”

Gaileyn Sawyer

Photo: Gaileyn Sawyer

If it helps protect the natural settings she loves, Gaileyn isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty – literally. Over the years with BNT, she’s spent plenty of time participating in beach cleanups and has even made it a family affair.

“My 13-year-old son was able to join a recent beach cleanup and we were able to get 45 bags of trash off the beach,” explains Gaileyn. “It’s a great way to teach kids about the environment, as well as about giving back and getting involved.”

By encouraging RBCers like Gaileyn to support their communities, RBC has facilitated countless hours of volunteering around the world. In 2023 alone, RBC employees and retirees volunteered over 206,500 hours as individuals or in teams with the organizations that mean the most to them. RBCers were also able to direct over $5 million in corporate funds to charities around the world last year.

“I’m a big advocate for finding all the ways to volunteer and in turn, earn dollars to give to organizations through myCommunity,” says Kristen, who is ever-expanding her charitable activities. "It’s easy to find charities, log hours and give back to causes that matter to you through the platform.”


Making connections in communities and beyond

But perhaps the most valuable benefit of volunteering can’t be measured – the opportunity for RBCers to make connections in their community and beyond.


For Gisèle Anno, some of those connections started with an empty field. She’s spent time volunteering with Grow Jersey, which recently planted a community garden that includes fruits, vegetables and pollination-friendly flowers in a field that was no longer being used.

 

“The fruits and vegetables are going to be used for the community, so people who may not have enough food can do a bit of gardening if they like, and ultimately, save on their grocery bill,” says Gisèle, an Assistant Manager, Compliance with RBC in Jersey, UK. “On a weekly basis, the organization has ‘Watering Wednesday’ and asks people to help water the plants. It’s all done by hand, so it’s really hard work, but it’s really rewarding as well.”

“Through this initiative, I’ve met some really lovely people. After we’ve been in the field, there’s always time for a cup of tea and cake. We get to have a chat with people and it’s a really nice sense of community.”

 
For many volunteers, those shared connections and purpose are one of the greatest motivators behind getting involved in their community. 
Tristan Tsui

Photo: Tristan Tsui

That was Tristan Tsui’s experience when volunteering with Ronald McDonald House Charities in Hong Kong as part of International Volunteer Day in early December in 2022.

“It was incredibly delightful to see the smiles and joy from the children, especially during such a stressful time,” says Tristan, who is part of the RBC Operations team in Hong Kong. “Volunteering makes our lives more meaningful by giving us a greater sense of purpose, to help us build a better society.”


A word from our lawyers


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.