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Article posted on June 25, 2018

How Lethbridge Chamber is creating a corporate community of giving

The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Philanthropy Committee strives to bring awareness to caring Lethbridge businesses of local non-profits in need of assistance.
The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Philanthropy Committee strives to bring awareness to caring Lethbridge businesses of local non-profits in need of assistance.

You may have heard the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

When business and non-profit members of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce voiced a need for collaboration between the two sectors in 2016, Executive Director Karla Pyrch and her Chamber colleagues took notice and took action.

Non-profit organizations, comprising 10% of the chamber’s membership, were seeking support from and connection to Lethbridge businesses. And business members were eager to find new ways to engage their staff, customers, and community.

Under the leadership of former chamber president Randy Tremel and Brandie Lea from the University of Lethbridge, a Philanthropy Committee was born, and with it, a culture of cross-sector support. The committee meets monthly and strives to bring awareness to caring Lethbridge businesses of local non-profits in need of some form of assistance.

The guiding principle behind the committee is simple: when those most in need of services or funds are supported, the entire community prospers. The initiative has received support on both sides, with businesses recognizing the benefits of giving back, and non-profits grateful for the opportunity to connect with the corporate world.

In addition to facilitating community partnerships, the committee has offered a series of lunch and learns to profile businesses doing well by doing good, and rallies behind national events like Philanthropy Week.  As well, the committee shares valuable tools and resources, such as the Alberta’s Promise community involvement toolkit.

The Philanthropy Committee also helps educate businesses on the wide range of giving that falls under the umbrella of “corporate philanthropy”. While financial gifts are certainly a part of it, giving can take many forms, including gifts of volunteer hours, in-kind donations, and pro bono services. Furthermore, the committee is helping businesses learn more about the perks of giving back, and how the investment – in whatever form – can result in a valuable boost for business.

Now wrapping up its second trial year, the committee is reflecting on some of the success stories coming out of the community. Here are just a few:

  • Select People Solutions works to find sponsors for Meals on Wheels Lethbridge for the entire month of December. The Select team also volunteers their time to serve lunch – a gift that doubles as a great team building experience.
  • Stantec helped Lethbridge Family Services develop a Garden for Growth, an accessible space for patrons with disabilities. Stantec donated design service for the space, and employees and their families volunteered to build the garden and bring the project to life. Stantec even reached out to the community for funding partners.
  • Employees of Avail LLP Chartered Professional Accountants participated in Volunteer Lethbridge’s Project Paintbrush, a one-day event where volunteers scrape, prep, and paint exterior projects for those who are not physically or financially able to complete the work themselves.

With amazing initiatives like these surfacing throughout the community, the Lethbridge Chamber Philanthropy Committee is gearing up for more great projects ahead. Santa’s Wishlist, an initiative dropping this fall, will encourage organizations with a need in the community to post it, giving Lethbridge businesses the opportunity to fill it. Participating businesses will be formally recognized at a chamber luncheon in December.

Interested in learning more about the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce? Reach out to Executive Director Karla Pyrch at karla@lethbridgechamber.com.

Last Updated: Monday, June 25, 2018

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