By: Leona Lau

“Effective philanthropy requires a lot of time and creativity – the same kind of focus and skills that building a business requires.” – Bill Gates

While the stigma associated with the idea of how corporate greed contrasts with charitable acts of philanthropy is prevalent in today’s society, the Sauder Philanthropy Program (SPP) strives to change how society views the two. Rather than as opponents, non-profit organizations can achieve greater success with their social improvement programs through the usage of keen business sense. With the contribution and positive impact charities provide, proper resource management with business principles allow for the accountability of social returns for these organizations. In other words, the combination of the two not only results in positive outcomes for the community, but can also result in a satisfying career.

The SPP began two years ago as the brainchild by John S. Montalbano, a Sauder alumni and current CEO for RBC Global Asset Management. He believed that philanthropy is a learned behaviour that revolves around giving back to the community – an idea heavily emphasized through the projects and events partaken by the program. With that in mind, SPP embraced the notion of how being more involved with socially responsible causes at an earlier stage will likewise garner sooner changes for citizens.

Previously, the SPP started out by managing endowment funds to support research in sustainability in business practices. Since then, the program expanded to include a more educational faction to involve students through a cohort system, where the first year in the program focuses more on the development of knowledge and the second year focuses on a more hands-on approach. To add on, SPP promotes awareness through public events, such as their Speaker Series. To date, SPP has hosted various business leaders as guest lecturers to come and share their experiences involving social responsibility. Past speakers include Mark Cullen, former RBC Dominion Securities Director, Kevin McCort, CEO of Vancouver Foundation, Debra Hewson, CEO of Odlum Brown and Kelsey Spitz, a Communications and Research Associate at Social Innovation Generation National.

With the general direction of SPP moving towards having a stronger community presence, they have collaborated with various social ventures concerning non-profit start-ups that provide promising and scalable services for the public. In particular, SPP conducts organizational capacity assessments as a way to have a more active role with the non-profits’ business processes. With the high-level of involvement, SPP certainly shines a warm light regarding loving one’s community and one’s work within it – much to the approval of the Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable David Lloyd Johnston, with whom they recently had the fortunate opportunity to present to regarding SPP’s mission.

Upcoming SPP Speaker Series: Norm Francis on February 24th (CEO of Boardwalk Ventures) and the Stephens family on March 3rd (founders of Nature’s Path).