In November 2019, members of Suncor’s Community Investment (CI) and Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF) team stepped on stage to receive the Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist award. The honour comes from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Calgary and Area Chapter.
Two of SEF’s partners, the Banff Centre and the Calgary Public Library, nominated Suncor to receive the award based on strategic investments and partnerships they have received from SEF. Alberta Ecotrust also wrote a letter of support for the nomination, which includes a description of how SEF has helped bridge the business and environmental communities over the years:
“It’s difficult to convey how transformative Suncor has been in parts of Alberta,” wrote Pat Letizia, Executive Director of Alberta Ecotrust. “Suncor has inspired us to do more, but has also given us the confidence and tools we needed to reach out meaningfully to our Indigenous colleagues working on environmental issues.”
This approach did not come about overnight. In 1998, Suncor created SEF as a private, non-profit, charitable organization – and as a way to invest more deeply in communities. Now, over two decades later, CI and 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. The complex challenges and unique needs of society require innovative, sustainable solutions – which is exactly what CI and SEF aim to provide.
One way CI and SEF have strived to provide these collaborative solutions is through their work with the Banff Centre. For more than 15 years, CI and SEF have partnered with the Banff Centre through a variety of programs designed to empower leaders, and help build strong and resilient communities. Indigenous participants, for example, attend Banff Centre programs supported by SEF to gain knowledge and skills that are helping them identify and address their communities’ most pressing needs.
“SEF is deeply invested in long-term impact, rather than superficial or easy short-term outcomes,” says Lisa Jackson, managing director of leadership programming at the Banff Centre. “I see SEF team members step into their work every day with courage and creativity.”
Back in Calgary, CI and SEF are working with the Calgary Public Library to support Indigenous programming and cross-cultural learning opportunities in a number of areas. The hope is that these opportunities will result in meaningful change in various communities.
As corporate philanthropy has evolved, it’s through partnerships and relationships with community organizations that Suncor can enhance its impact, empower others, increase collaboration, and help spark change for generations ahead. Through the CI and SEF strategy, meaningful investments that have lasting impacts are co-created with community organizations and members.