WWF-Canada Blog:

Frances Edmonds: Why fundraising is part of being a green champion

By Frances Edmonds, Director of Environmental Programs, Hewlett-Packard Canada, Champion of the Living Planet @ Work program

So how did it happen?  One minute I was an environmental manager and the next, I was a fundraiser? Well that’s a lie – truth be told, it was a gradual evolution…

As HP’s Director of Environmental Programs, I would never have predicted the turn my career took when I was given the opportunity to do a job rotation managing HP’s global Social Impact team. In fact, I don’t think I really knew what the term social impact was back then. So for those of you who are still wondering, Social Impact refers to how an organization’s actions affect the surrounding community (sometimes referred to as the Social Responsibility in CSR). This gave me a fresh look at the not for profit sector and a deeper insight into the issues facing these organizations. To solve the “teeth-clenching” problems we face today, we need a deep collaboration between the business world and the not for profit sector. Given my belief that business can be an amazing source of change— we can’t do it without combining forces:  which de facto means we need to find ways to help not for profit organizations fund themselves and enable them to do the things that they are good at.

Frances Edmonds poses with WWF’s panda during Earth Hour 2013. © WWF-Canada

Frances Edmonds poses with WWF’s panda during Earth Hour 2013. © WWF-Canada

Ah then, understanding how to do the fundraising part. It had never really crossed my mind. I thought,  other people do that….I’ll stick to my knitting!

Like many people, I thought that it was “someone else” or big organizations that gave to groups like WWF but in fact the majority of the funds for WWF come from individuals like you and me. Making the mental leap from “I can give a bit” to “I can enable a lot,” crept up on me.

So what did we end up doing at HP? Firstly, we began with the CN tower climb fundraiser supporting WWF. We offered a few company incentives to get our staff to climb and raise funds. Asking friends and family to sponsor you doesn’t seem that hard when you are willing to climb 1776 steps! My learning was that they are surprisingly generous and online fundraising makes the process quick and easy.

For the less energetic, there are many other ways to fundraise from bake sales to payroll deductions. One of my favorite ways that HP helped was by championing the WWF Living Planet@ Work program. The program gives businesses free resources and tools to help lower their footprint through environmental employee engagement. It’s a wonderful thing and a great way to open up new sources of funding for WWF. Companies that sign up to access the free resources are asked to commit to fundraising for the organization’s critical conservation work. Our goal is $1million over 3 years.

Recent statistics show, that only 3% of the total amount donated by Canadians (aged 15 and over) was given to environmental organizations. Yet, Canadians say they are supportive of protecting our natural environment. Certainly the big issues of pipelines and natural resource extraction are in the headlines. If we want an independent, science-based voice to be heard in these debates, then we must fund the valuable work that WWF does. I challenge you all to go out and find a way to support them. It’s not that hard and like many things, once you’ve done it once, it gets easier and easier to do.

To join the growing Living Planet @ Work community and make your impact, visit atwork.wwf.ca.