This article is sponsored by the Ottawa Mission Foundation.
Several Ottawa businesses are partnering with the Ottawa Mission Foundation on a creative new initiative that’s raising awareness and funds to fight homelessness, while also giving local companies a boost in a pandemic economy.
The Ottawa Mission Foundation always strives to create mutually beneficial experiences for companies that engage in corporate giving. In 2019, The Foundation launched its Business on a Mission (BOAM) program. BOAM was designed as a special way for businesses to engage with The Ottawa Mission.
A new element to the BOAM program is the cause-related marketing initiative. Instead of offering a one-time monetary donation to The Mission, businesses are invited to partner with The Mission and pledge a portion of sales from a certain product or service to the shelter.
In return, The Foundation promotes the campaign through its various channels to increase engagement with the businesses and their customers, while also informing employees of the company about the impact of their contribution – something that frequently boosts workplace morale and employee engagement.
A new way of giving
The new approach to corporate giving through cause-related marketing materialized earlier this year, when long-time supporter Caivan Communities – an Ottawa-based homebuilder – reached out to The Foundation with an idea for a new partnership dubbed Building Tomorrow Together. Caivan is offering a portion of each sale of every house sold before the end of 2020 as a donation to The Ottawa Mission. Caivan has set a generous target of $150,000 by the end of this year.
“I remember thinking how substantial that donation would be, especially given our increased costs (amid COVID-19) of offering safe, quality care to those we serve,” says Sean Wong, executive director of the Ottawa Mission Foundation. “The initiative also serves as a reminder to the public that for some people, having a home just isn’t an option, which helps bring awareness to the homelessness crisis in Ottawa.”
Engaging the community
As Caivan continues to work towards its year-end goal, The Mission has expanded the BOAM program by engaging additional local businesses through the new cause-related marketing initiative.
In May, the not-for-profit joined forces with legendary rap group The Wu-Tang Clan and local eatery Pure Kitchen on the duo’s Better Tomorrow campaign. The proceeds from the sale of special merchandise went to local charities including The Ottawa Mission, while Pure Kitchen contributed a portion of its sales from a special dish created by the restaurant – its Saga Continues Bowl. The Foundation also worked with ByTown Catering, which pledged to donate a portion of its sales from its recently-established grocery ordering service to The Mission’s life-changing programs.
While Wong says he understands that many local companies are going through a challenging financial period, he says he is keen to share success stories of business innovation and determination through partnerships like the Business on a Mission program. And with the shelter operating at more than 100 per cent capacity every night leading up to the pandemic, the organization is also looking for new ways to engage businesses in the community.
“A donation doesn't have to be a six-figure gift – any amount is meaningful,” he adds. “If a business can donate a portion of their sales, that can move the needle both within the corporate space in terms of engagement of staff, but will also have a substantial effect on The Ottawa Mission.”