December 2018

Four Ways RBC Capital Markets is Engaging its Employees in its Corporate Philanthropy

By Bobby Grubert
Co-Head of Global Equities, RBC Capital Markets

At RBC Capital Markets, we’re passionate about being a values-oriented, purpose-driven and principles-led organization. We call this our “Collective Ambition” and the word collective is critical. We want our employees aligned with our purpose: to help our clients thrive and communities prosper and we want to ensure employees are 100% engaged in the philanthropic initiatives we support.

While we have numerous fundraisers, our marquee event is RBC Race for the Kids, which started in NYC in 2009 and has grown into a global franchise of 17 charitable runs across 11 countries with 174,000 global participants raising more than $31 million for youth-related causes. Getting to this point, where we truly believe our corporate giving resonates with employees, has been an evolution. Here are four tips for helping your organization engage employees in your corporate philanthropy:

Identify an area of focus your employees care about.

Identifying one key focus that employees are genuinely passionate about is key. Our commitment to youth is fundamental to our vision of helping communities prosper. Millions of youth are affected by risk factors that impact their ability to reach their full potential, from serious illness to unyielding poverty, and we work directly with Youth INC. and other non-profits to help address these obstacles. Currently, many of our employees serve as board members and are active volunteers in grassroots charities (such as Play Rugby USA and The TEAK Fellowship) that help support youth. This is by design. When determining our area of charitable focus, we surveyed employees and learned helping youth at the grass-roots level was the cause that resonated most with our employees.

Facetime goes a long way

One of the charities we support is the Ronald McDonald House New York. Not only does our Foundation provide cash grants, but twice a month my colleagues and I visit their Upper East Side location and spend the evening preparing and serving meals for more than 95 kids and their families. It’s the most rewarding, fulfilling and humbling experience of my month. Being in direct contact with our community, making connections with families in need and working together for a great cause has a profound impact on both Ronald McDonald House New York and our employees. Our teams have a high level of engagement, we’ve created bonds across the workplace and we service our clients better because there’s a sense of trust, community, and purpose at the very core of our business.  

Empower your employees.

While we are committed to youth as a firm, we also empower and support our employees on the individual issues they care about. Our firm offers a gift matching program to employees for eligible 501(c)(3) charities they support and we reward volunteer efforts. Through our employee volunteer grant program we recognize individual volunteer time by donating to the charities that employees dedicate their time to helping, and we encourage group volunteering by promoting Team RBC grants, where a $1,000 donation is made to support the nonprofit hosting the volunteer activity. In addition, we continue to expand the opportunities that allow employees to volunteer their professional work skills. These types of programs not only exponentially increase the impact our employees make but send a powerful message to employees: we support the causes that matter the most to you.

Give your employees a voice and a platform.

To truly bring our corporate philanthropy to life, we created a documentary video series that cast a spotlight on our employees and the causes they support. These are not your typical corporate videos; each offers a unique and heartfelt glimpse into the lives of children positively impacted by our culture of giving back and speaks to the incredible impact charities and children have had on our employees. A call to action, these videos speak to a powerful fact that when you change a kid’s life, you change yours. We posted the documentary series to our social media platform with the hashtag #RBCCMChangeALife and shared with employees, clients, and community partners. The response has been phenomenal and has truly galvanized our employees to become more involved in the community and in causes close to their hearts.

A culture of giving needs to be embedded in the very heart of an organization. It needs to be linked to the causes employees are passionate about. Importantly, it needs to be created with a long-term journey in mind, giving causes and corporations alike a chance to develop long-lasting ties, foster relationships and drive a greater sense of community, thereby harnessing a firm-wide culture of philanthropy that resonates.