November 10, 2011

Telus offers $1 for every Facebook ‘like’ on new Adopt-a-School project

To thousands of individuals and charitable organizations that have been helped by Telus, the news that the company was named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation worldwide likely highlighted for them a defining characteristic of the telecommunications giant.

As a footnote to Telus’s recent financial statements, it was a line that was dwarfed by news of growing revenues and expanding markets.
But to thousands of individuals and charitable organizations that have been helped by Telus, the news that the company was named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation worldwide likely highlighted for them a defining characteristic of the telecommunications giant.
And so to them it would come as no surprise that Telus has stepped up to become the first corporate sponsor of The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund Adopt-a-School project, which this week launches a fundraising campaign to help needy children in Metro Vancouver inner-city schools.
While the company is quick to help with international and humanitarian disasters like the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, its key philanthropic focus remains with young people across Canada.
Jill Schnarr, Telus’s vice-president of community affairs, said there is the risk that the needs of children in our own communities can be overshadowed by international disasters.
It’s important, she said, not to forget what is happening at home.
“I don’t think there is that recognition that so many kids don’t have breakfast every morning, they don’t have the right clothes,” she said. “And we need to help them just as much as building schools in Africa.
“I think what you guys [the Adopt-a-School project] are doing is awesome because you are raising awareness of a really important cause.”
Telus is sponsoring The Children’s Fund text donation program, in which you will be able to text the word “sunkids” from your mobile phone to donate $5 to the Adopt-a-School project. We’ll be launching that later this month.

The company has also pledged to pay $1 for every “like” for the Children’s Fund Facebook page, up to $5,000 (facebook.com/vansunkidsfund).

Last year, Telus donated more than $34 million across Canada and worldwide. Since 2000, it has donated more than $245 million, and Telus employees have clocked more than 4.1 million volunteer hours.
Telus was named the top philanthropic corporation for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a first for a Canadian company.
“We go into communities and we want people to be our customers in that community so we have a responsibility to give back to that community,” said Schnarr.
She said Telus also believes that socially conscious consumers want to do business with companies that share their values. In some communities, Telus supports specific projects with a contribution of $100 for every new Optik TV customer it signs up.
Thirdly, Schnarr said Telus’s policy of “we give where we live” is important for employees.
“What we do in the community means so much to them,” she explained.
While Telus may write the cheques and it supports charities directly, it also turns over the task of identifying grassroots needs to groups of local volunteers who make up its 11 community boards across Canada.
Last year community boards handed out $5.1 million for 337 projects, with Vancouver’s community board distributing $3.8 million and the Victoria board $1.2 million. A Thompson Okanagan community board was launched last September.
Telus also matches funds when employees or retirees donate through payroll or pension deductions, up to $10,000 per person per year. This year that program has raised $7.2 million, with an average donation for employees and retirees of $450.
Telus employees and retirees also run a community ambassadors’ program in which they get together to help in their communities — whether it’s stuffing backpacks for schoolchildren whose parents can’t afford supplies to filling “comfort kits” for homeless people and seniors and putting together Christmas stockings for children.
For more about sponsors of our Adopt-a-School project, check online at www.vansunkidsfund.ca/partners.

gshaw@vancouversun.com

Digital Life writer Gillian Shaw is on the board of The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund.

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