Standing with Indigenous Canada: Benevity Embarks on the Journey for Reconciliation

Background

As a leading provider of global corporate purpose software, Benevity is passionate about infusing a culture of Goodness into the world. We’re also founded and headquartered in Canada, so the heartbreaking discoveries at residential school sites across the country have become an important issue company-wide.  

The injustices faced by Indigenous Peoples in Canada, which were ignored for too long, have been brought into sharp, painful focus. And the impacts of intergenerational trauma continue to manifest into present-day challenges — a cruel reality we must begin to resolve as individuals and as a nation. We ask: Where do we go from here, and how do we find our way toward healing and reconciliation? 

At Benevity, we believe the journey to a better world starts with empathy and understanding. Social change happens when hearts open, and minds change. And we can begin the transformation if we educate ourselves, one of the calls to action for business from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In that spirit, we set out on a journey of giving, learning, and discovery in support of — and in solidarity with — Indigenous Peoples.  

How Benevity Has Activated Its Community in Support of Indigenous Peoples

1. Provide More Indigenous-focused Organizations with Access to Funding Opportunities 

Challenge: Because of legal and tax stipulations on how donor funds must be used to become a registered charity in Canada, many grassroots Indigenous organizations do not seek this status and, therefore, were not included in Benevity’s nonprofit database. This meant they couldn’t access any of the billions of dollars in donations flowing through our platform from hundreds of companies and their people, to address critical issues in their communities. 

Approach: Our passionate team went to work. With a mission of getting as many Indigenous-focused organizations into our ecosystem as quickly as possible and getting them access to unrestricted funds right away, we researched and identified over 400 organizations that are tax-exempt and eligible for donations through our platform. 

Results: Benevity has added 404 Indigenous-focused organizations into our database — giving our clients (and their people) more choice and giving the organizations access to an entirely new donor base and a variety of funding they can use to support their communities. 

2. Grant Unrestricted Funds to Organizations Working on Critical Issues Affecting Indigenous Peoples in Canada 

Challenge: Indigenous organizations aren’t getting enough awareness or access to corporate funds to meet their goals. This is partly due to the rigorous restrictions and reporting requirements imposed by many corporate donors, which take valuable time away from these organizations’ work. 

Approach:  Benevity reached out to the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies to help identify Indigenous organizations actively engaged in addressing the unique needs of Indigenous communities and peoples in Canada — organizations that could use promotion and benefit from the funding.  

Results:  In collaboration with the university, Benevity curated a list of eight organizations focused on issues, including educating the world on Indigenous history, culture, and the legacy of residential schools, addressing water challenges in Indigenous communities, and empowering Indigenous youth. Benevity granted a total of $100,000 in unrestricted funds to these nonprofits, with no reporting requirements — supporting the good work they do without adding to their administrative burden. 

These eight organizations received a total of $100,000 in grant money from Benevity: First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, Indspire, Reconciliation Canada, The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, The Native Women’s Association of Canada, University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies, Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY), and Water First Education and Training Inc.

3. Build Awareness and Spark Conversation Around Indigenous History 

Challenge: People do better when they know better. The lack of education in Canada’s school system on Indigenous culture and history means entire generations know very little — and newcomers to the country are largely unaware. It was time to change that, and we knew we could help. 

Approach: Our #EducationForReconciliation initiative encouraged the public to learn about Indigenous history, putting into context the generational trauma that continues to affect Indigenous communities — and share those learnings on social media. We used our promotional channels to direct people to the University of Alberta’s free Indigenous Canada course for purposeful study and to highlight eight Indigenous-led organizations for further learning and donations. 

Results: Our collaboration with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies helped us amplify the conversation, reaching almost 250,000 people on social media — sparking hundreds of discussions.  

4. Empower Our Team With a Space to Learn 

Challenge: Sept. 30, 2021, marked Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This public commemoration honors the survivors of the residential school system, their families, and their communities. We knew we had to do something internally to stand with the Indigenous community on this important day.  

Approach: Benevity executives agreed the best way to honor the day’s significance was to focus on learning. Benevity-ites were encouraged to cancel all meetings on Sept. 30 and use the day to learn, share and volunteer. 

Results: How we’ve empowered Benevity-ites on their own reconciliation journey: 

  • Started a #ReconciliationJourney campaign on our internal platform, providing various ways to learn, volunteer, and donate.  
  • Encouraged and offered time for our people to take the University of Alberta’s free Indigenous Canada course.  
  • Invited our people to participate in a virtual, guided tour of Mohawk Institute Residential School, one of a handful of residential school sites left standing in Canada. Provided through the Woodland Cultural Centre, the experience included first-hand accounts from five survivors and a facility tour that detailed the inadequate conditions and abuse committed during its 140 years in operation. 
  • Created a Slack channel dedicated to Indigenous content and conversations. 
  • Highlighted an employee’s blog post where she shared her perspective on what we can all do to support the Indigenous community. 
  • Created a land acknowledgment to add to our email signatures. 
  • Promoted wearing orange on Sept. 30 and encouraged the sharing of learnings externally with family and friends on social media

We recognize that Benevity’s journey toward reconciliation has just begun. We must and will stay committed — long after the headlines have disappeared — to do our part to effect lasting change. Continuing the conversation, providing an open forum for discussion, and highlighting Indigenous causes all contribute to the ongoing work.  

In December, Benevity will dedicate an episode of our podcast, “Speaking of Purpose,” to exploring Indigenous perspectives and learning about Indigenous-led philanthropy in collaboration with International Funders for Indigenous Peoples. To access this special episode when it airs, subscribe to “Speaking of Purpose” wherever you get your podcasts.