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Double the Empowerment

Alberta brokerage's matching program is a powerful tool for employee-driven fundraising

When it comes to giving back to the community, Lundgren & Young Insurance has some valuable pointers to share.

“For starters, we take direction from our staff,” says Robyn Young, chief administrative officer. “We don’t partner with one or two specific charities, or dictate who to support because we’ve found that the best way to make charitable activities successful in an organization is to support causes that are important to our employees.”

With a head office in Calgary and additional offices throughout Alberta, Lundgren & Young has been part of these communities for more than 30 years, and its philosophy of giving back is ingrained in each location.

Young continues, “When an employee champions a cause, it motivates others to either join in or support them. With the number of offices we have, we support multiple causes to meet the many varied needs in our communities—from national charities like Movember, Heart and Stroke and the World Wildlife Fund, to local charities like the Calgary food bank.”

Another driving force behind employee giving is the company’s unlimited matching program. “When an employee participates in or donates to a cause or a charity, we match whatever they raise in funds without capping the amount. Our only parameter is that it’s a registered charity,” Young says. “Employees even use the matching program as a hook in their pitch for donations from friends and families.”

The brokerage also has a casual wear program in place, in which staff may wear casual clothing (like jeans) every day for a contribution of $20 per month or $2 per day. The contribution may be made to a charity of their choice; again, handing the decision power to employees.

In addition to making their own donation decisions, staff members from several Lundgren and Young locations come together on the first Thursday of each month to serve dinner at Calgary’s Inn from the Cold, a charity which helps families get back on their feet and prevents them from having to move to a shelter.

“We set the tables, serve dinner to the guests and prepare lunches for the next day,” says Young. “We don’t do presentations or make any speeches about who we are and what we do. We’re there to serve the meal and help out in our community.”

The flexibility in the brokerage’s charitable practices allow staff to respond to immediate needs when they arise, such as the aftermath of the 2013 Alberta floods. Staff responded in a number of ways, from delivering pizzas to volunteers, to sending a large donation of much-needed cleaning supplies to communities around Calgary, including High River.

Like many Calgary businesses, Lundgren & Young Insurance has the Stampede spirit and hosts a big pancake breakfast every year, delighting customers and the community. A draw is traditionally held to raise funds at Calgary’s signature event, with proceeds going to a local charitable cause. For example, last year’s proceeds were donated to flood relief.

“Our customers are our community and our business is to serve the community and see to their insurance needs,” says Young. “We likely touch many of our existing and potential customers through our charitable work without even knowing it. But that’s how we believe it should be.”

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Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the February 2014 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine