Community Investment at Suncor, and the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF), embody Suncor’s purpose of caring for each other and the earth by connecting business and community strengths to make a positive difference in society. Through partnerships and relationships with those who are courageously seeking solutions, we help spark change and propel progress for generations ahead.
We take a long view and believe we have the opportunity – and responsibility – to help build a better future. Since Suncor began operations in the oil sands over 50 years ago, this commitment has been demonstrated in our work with communities across our operations, through the efforts of our employees, and with the creation of SEF in 1998.
We believe in partnering and building relationships for the long-term to bring a brighter world to life. These relationships need to be across multiple sectors as no one type of organization can solve the interconnected, complex challenges we’re facing in the world today. That’s why we aim to foster mutual benefit and co-create solutions.
We do so to advance the following Guiding Principles and Strategic Objectives:
- Connect innovators across systems and sectors, and within Suncor, to build relationships that help amplify program impacts and translate knowledge
- Value diverse perspectives and are open to different ways of knowing so that we can work with people, processes and programs that enable us to address complex issues in a solutions-oriented way
- Recognize and work with the strengths and capabilities within Suncor to help advance sustainable solutions for resilient communities
- Supporting communities to adapt and flourish when change requires new skills, mindsets, capabilities and approaches
- Amplifying youth and community leadership so that they are prepared to guide and influence the future
- Co-creating innovative solutions that address our shared challenges and opportunities and allow us to create the conditions for success and action
- Leveraging the interests, strengths and capabilities of our employees to contribute to their community and help create solutions to complex issues
- Supporting communities near our operations to address their unique and specific needs that align with community priorities and business needs
Beyond these big-picture statements, we have a strategy with three interconnected pillars:
We invest in communities where our employees work and live, through donations and sponsorships to local community organizations. We also support employee investments in causes that matter to them through the SunCares program.
We focus our donations within three funding priorities: Indigenous Peoples, Community Resilience and Energy Future.
We contribute to the development of the social innovation sector and use social innovation practices to develop our own programs. We define social innovation as any initiative, product, process, program or design that challenges or changes society’s actions and beliefs. Successful social innovations create long-term transformative impact.
History of the Suncor Energy Foundation
The above information applies to both community investment at Suncor, and to the Suncor Energy Foundation. In addition, we know some people are interested in learning more about the history of the latter.
SEF is a private, charitable foundation established by Suncor in 1998. As a large business, Suncor needed an effective approach to organizing and managing its many philanthropic activities. Fully funded by Suncor, the foundation complements Suncor’s other community investments.
In addition, SEF allows us to continue supporting our communities during difficult economic times. As seen in past downturns, many non-profit organizations, who were reliant on corporate giving and grants, struggled to obtain funding. SEF’s reserve fund – an accumulation of surplus contributions made by Suncor – provides us with an opportunity to continue funding more steadily. That’s important for several reasons, including because we aim to make contributions toward long-term, transformative change.
SEF also provides governance for funding and administration policies, ensuring compliance with government requirements, overseeing approval for major grants and maintaining alignment to the strategy outlined above. SEF is governed by a Board of Directors that reviews all donations greater than $50,000 through four meetings a year. SEF is also grateful for the advice of an Indigenous Youth Advisory Council, as formed in early 2019 to bring youth feedback to the Foundation and to Suncor.