“Born” in 1998, the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF) has matured into its 20s. SEF might not be as fashion-conscious as others in the Generation Z group, but it has been recognized for being a leader in thoughtful and innovative approaches to addressing social issues in a collaborative and meaningful way.
Overseen by a Board of Directors, the Suncor Energy Foundation provides donations to organizations through its Strategic Funding Priorities, strives to find solutions to complex problems via social innovation, and aims to have a strong community presence by supporting and celebrating communities where Suncor works and the causes that employees are passionate about.
Patrick Ritchie, Suncor’s VP of Sales and Marketing is the newest member of the SEF Board of Directors.
“What stands out to me is the strong, historical alignment between how SEF become connected to Suncor’s business strategy, and how it can benefit both our company and community needs,” says Patrick. “SEF is about supporting Canadians through all of life’s changes and challenges.”
The foundation was created to manage the company’s philanthropic activities as an arm’s length, separate legal entity of Suncor. Over the years, SEF has tested new ideas that Suncor has learned from.
“The synergy between the business and foundation is really special. A lot of foundations are simply extensions of the business. Suncor is on its own journey of transformation and the foundation has created this secondary operating system to create innovative systemic spaces that you can’t do in-house,” shares Mark Cabaj, from Here to There Consulting, who works closely with SEF. “A lot of organizations wish for something like this and can’t build it. It creates value for the company and the field.”
Suncor recently updated its corporate strategy, which prompted Patrick and the other SEF board members to discuss the foundation’s role going forward. All agreed on the vital role SEF plays in the social aspect of the energy transition and what this means for communities and people.
“SEF is really good at connecting people, addressing different needs and co-creating solutions,” reflects Patrick. “As SEF continues its journey, I think it’s really important to lean into those strengths to drive the most value for Suncor and community.”
One thing is for certain: the foundation has learned in 20+ years that strong relationships with community partners are key to its impact. How Suncor relates to communities and the social issues will call for strong leadership in the years and decades to come. SEF works hard to build trust so community organizations are empowered to focus on their objectives and share back what they’re learning – which can all help to propel our business forward.