Business Way: Why We Give Back

Two local businesses share best practices on giving back

Over 400 organizations in the public and private sector participate in United Way’s annual fundraising campaign. That includes David Aplin Group and Credit Union Deposit Guarantee, two local small businesses that made a big impact with their successful campaigns.

David Aplin Group

When a woman and her son visited the Edmonton office of recruiting firm David Aplin Group, it was a memorable visit for the company’s employees. The struggling single mom was nearly homeless, but had recently returned to school and obtained a diploma thanks to support from United Way and its donors, like David Aplin Group.

David Aplin Group donation matching campaign

“She came to say thank you,” says David Aplin, CEO. For Aplin, the visit reaffirmed the difference his company’s support of United Way makes in people’s lives. “It was very heartwarming,” he says.

Last year, David Aplin Group’s Edmonton office of 32 employees raised $22,186, while the organiz-ation’s eight offices across Canada raised $55,558. Those are big numbers for a small business, no doubt helped by Aplin’s own involvement and contagious passion for the cause. “You can trust United Way to put the money where it’s needed,” he says.

David Aplin Group runs a donation matching campaign in each office. “We make it clear that the company will match dollar for dollar what the employees give, in the city that they give,” Aplin says. Employee campaigns include a variety of special events, from bake sales to silent auctions to paying money to wear jeans throughout the week.

“We try to get everybody involved in one way or another,” Aplin says. It’s an approach that works – last year’s companywide participation rate was 80 per cent and three branches reached 100 per cent. Aplin admits to just a small amount of bribery: If a branch hits its target participation rate, everyone gets an extra day off at Christmas.

Takeaway: “We’re not just saying to our employees ‘you should do this.’ We’re saying, ‘we should do this’, and in that sense, we’re leading by example.” – David Aplin

Credit Union Deposit Guarantee

Credit Union Deposit Guarantee’s two-week employee campaign for United Way ends each year with a potluck lunch. The company’s 35 employees ditch the jeans they’ve been wearing (part of a “be seen in jeans” fundraiser) and put on formal attire.

Credit Union Deposit Guarantee potluck

“It’s a fun get-together,” says Erik Flakstad, manager, regulation and risk assessment and one of four employees who co-chaired last year’s campaign. It’s also a chance to share with everyone the money they raised – last year, that amount was $14,980.

Such a gathering of employees also occurs throughout the rest of the campaign. Flakstad credits a “two-week campaign blitz” and strong corporate support for his company’s successful United Way campaign.

“It’s a tradition. Every September employees know United Way is coming and we’re going to have lots of different events and ways to contribute funds,” Flakstad says. Last year, events included a raffle, silent auction, waffle breakfast and the daily sale of chai tea and biscotti. With an employee participation rate of 97 per cent, it’s clear Credit Union Deposit Guarantee’s campaign is a success.

Takeaway: “What’s very successful for us is a number of fun activities in the two weeks – a two-week campaign blitz – and not bothering everyone throughout the year.”

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