It seems so many institutions in this country that once were entirely wards of the state now count increasingly on charitable donations to keep operating. Our local hospital, for instance. When the old building became unusable, the town had to raise several million dollars on its own before the province would commit any funds to start construction of a new one.
For better or worse, that seems to be the new Canadian reality. So now, donations from companies and businesses are more important than ever. According to Cory Beaujot, marketing manager at SeedMaster, that increasing need for donations that is part of the reason why the company just marked its 10th anniversary by establishing its own charitable foundation.
But this a foundation with a bit of a difference. SĒD (pronounced seed) has been set up to help rural organizations better generate funds from their activities. The foundation provides cash to help communities organize, promote or improve their events so they can generate much larger donation amounts.
“We’re promoting social entrepreneurship,” Beaujot says. “That means instead of just applying SĒD money to a fundraiser’s bottom line, SĒD recipients are required to use the funds in an entrepreneurial way that helps generate even more money for their charitable cause than they’d originally imagined. We want to encourage community fundraising groups to dream bigger about the possibilities they can achieve by making the most profitable use of SĒD funds.”
“There are a lot of fantastic (fundraising) ideas in the rural settings, but sometimes they aren’t able to flourish because they don’t have a bit of money to throw at advertising their great event,” he continues.
Providing cash for promoting a fundraising event is just one of the ways the company expects SĒD to be used. For example, to help a rural Saskatchewan volunteer fire department raise money, the foundation payed for special entertainment at their event that helped draw in a much larger crowd; and that meant significantly more donations overall.
“The funding they were looking for was able to grow their fundraising in a bigger and better way,” says Beaujot. “We’ve had some successful smaller projects that have kicked things off.”
It’s a new way of looking a corporate sponsorship. By providing seed money (hence the foundation’s name) groups can do a better job of raising money through their own events and activities.
“The notion of social entrepreneurship is a bit of a buzzword in the philanthropy world,” Beaujot adds. “I hate this term, but it’s thinking outside the box. Ultimately, it’s about making smart business decisions with not-for-profits and charities to help expand whatever their fundraising activities are. Essentially it’s using things in a manner that give you the biggest bang for your buck.”
And the company is willing to do more than just write a cheque to help out a cause. “Maybe they need a bit of staffing,” Beaujot continues. “We’d be happy to work that into our sales managers’ roles, to go and help at a pancake breakfast or whatever.”
SĒD is structured so that other companies or even individuals can work with SeedMaster to increase the amount of funds available to communities.
“We’ve built room into the foundation for partnership companies that see value in this kind of philanthropy to buy in and contribute money to it, even perhaps a corporate farmer,” says Beaujot.
Anyone interested in receiving funding or helping out by further supporting the foundation can check out the foundation’s website, seedmaster.ca/sed.