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Getting Involved: UPS Sets the Bar, Challenges Canadians

Every year, 12.5 million Canadians volunteer their time to charitable and non-profit organizations.  How would the non-profit sector survive without this kind of assistance?  Or without the small group of Canadians –12% of the population – who contribute 78% of the volunteer hours tallied?

Volunteers shape our communities, so that we can happily call them “home.” They help to make parks safe for kids, help fight illiteracy, help build homes, and run for cancer.  Volunteerism like this is not a new or trendy concept to UPS. It is one of the company’s core values to help strengthen the communities in which its employees live and work. 

UPS employees choose to lead by example. In 2009, employees volunteered more than 28,000 hours to over 280 charitable organizations across Canada.

UPS’s president, Mike Tierney, is also leading by example and challenging his fellow executives and CEOs to volunteer.  Mike is Chair of Volunteer Canada’s Corporate Council on Volunteering.

Volunteer Canada is a national organization engaged in the promotion of volunteerism across Canada. They develop resources and national initiatives, and actively engage in research, training and promotional campaigns to increase community participation.  Volunteer Canada provides leadership on issues and trends in the Canadian volunteer movement. 

Mike, how did you get involved with Volunteer Canada?

I was appointed Chair of the Corporate Council on Volunteering in January 2010, and will act as spokesperson for the council throughout the year.  UPS has been involved with Volunteer Canada since 2001 and involved with the Corporate Council since it began in 2006.  UPS is one of 23 recognized and respected Canadian companies currently on the council. We are all leaders in volunteerism and civic responsibility, so it made sense to combine our efforts and work together.  We recognize the leadership role businesses play within the community and that we need to lead by example.  I think I can speak for all the council members when I say we are trying to foster the importance of volunteerism with our employees and encourage them to find ways to give back.

Working with Volunteer Canada has provided great opportunities to share UPS’s vision about volunteerism, which is something we have been passionate about for a long time.  UPS is pledging 30,000 hours for Volunteer Canada’s Power of the Hour campaign, and we are challenging the business community to match our hours.

In January, UPS worked with the Corporate Council and Getinvolved.ca to help launch the Power of the Hour campaign.  The launch gathered CEOs from the Corporate Council, as well as Canada’s most influential corporations, along with their not-for-profit partners, to make the announcement.  It was a very impactful way to share the message about volunteerism and created a lot of stir within media circles.

In March, I participated in a 30-second spot that will air this week as part of Canada’s National Volunteer Week. The commercial challenges people to get involved in their communities in any way they can.  Twelve-year-old Amanda Belzowski, who began volunteering when she was just two years old, is the star of the commercial.  She is a role model to kids and adults alike.

What is the Power of the Hour Challenge?

The Power of the Hour challenges people and organizations to stand up and be counted for their volunteer efforts. It is a national online campaign, developed by Getinvolved.ca in partnership with Volunteer Canada, to reach a goal of 2 million volunteer hours in 2010.  Three months after the January launch of the campaign, the goal was reached with Corporate Council members contributing over 800,000 volunteer hours.

Collectively, volunteers in Canada contribute just over 2.1 billion volunteer hours, which is the equivalent to almost 1.1 million full-time jobs.  I think this fact alone speaks volumes about Canadian’s ability and commitment to helping others. 

Why is volunteerism important to UPS?

We have a significant responsibility to give back to the communities where we live and work.  It’s a responsibility we take seriously. Volunteering and community support are at the core of UPS’s values – and always have been.  UPS has been finding new and creative ways to help our communities for more than 100 years.

Outside of Volunteer Canada, what other volunteer initiatives is UPS involved in?

A major focus of our community involvement is our ongoing relationship with United Way, which began here in Canada 27 years ago in 1983.  For the past eight years, UPS Canada has been awarded the prestigious Thanks A Million Award from United Way for donating over $1 million.

More recently, we helped send medical supplies to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in January.  This disaster crippled the country and brought the world together. We had to help, in any way we could.  We sent Logistics Emergency Teams (LETs) that provide logistics experts to the World Food Programme. These experts deploy within 48-72 hours of a major natural disaster anywhere in the world. UPS has dedicated employees positioned in the Americas, Europe and Asia to serve on the LETs team who are ready to go wherever they may be needed. In addition, UPS donated more than $1 million US through its charitable arm, The UPS Foundation. There is still much to be done in Haiti to help the country rebuild.

Locally, UPS Canada has donated more than $257,000 so far in 2010 to local charities. I have seen first-hand what a special and rewarding experience it is for employees who volunteer, and have special relationships with a charitable organization, to help obtain a sizable grant on their behalf.  That’s what’s great about our grant programs – they balance financial contribution with hands-on volunteering because an organization must have benefited from at least 50 volunteer hours from a UPS employee or their family members to be considered.  

Every year our employees continue to surprise me. Since we started our own Global Volunteer Month in 2003, employee volunteer participation has increased 150%. Recently, one of those employees was chosen to receive a $10,000 donation from The UPS Foundation to give to the charity of their choice.  

Why is volunteering important to you?

It’s about doing the right thing. We have good jobs, roofs over our heads and food on our tables.  We have the means to give back – the ability to lend our time, skills and abilities.  Volunteering is about supporting and investing in the community that has invested in you.  Whether we’re talking about a neighbourhood, a city or a larger global community, it’s about giving back, forging relationships and getting involved.  Finding the time to help out where help is needed.  Many hands make work light, and that’s why I am proud UPS encourages and rewards corporate volunteerism.  Businesses can lead the way to stronger, more vibrant communities and, at the same time, build a more engaged and satisfied workforce… a win-win situation if there ever was one.

Category: Caring for Communities, Global Impact
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