Santropol Roulant partners with up to 120 companies each year. Most of these are large, local companies with more than 50 employees. In the usual pre-pandemic context, this number grows slightly on average, year over year.
A vast majority of collaborations take place through team building activities, a very popular way to bring employees together to have a social impact. Small groups of two to ten people get together to prepare or deliver meals for the Meals-on-Wheels service, while larger groups of ten or more are more likely to head to the gardens or the farm to lend a hand with important tasks during the agricultural season. Many employers and employees also see this as an opportunity to increase and reinforce their familiarity with the social or environmental issues their community faces.
These activities are accompanied by a donation. Offering such experiences creates work for our team, and so a minimum contribution to the Roulant’s mission, on a sliding scale based on the company’s capacity, makes perfect sense.
Some companies organize small fundraising events for the Roulant or match the donations their employees choose to make to support the mission.
One of the most popular contributions is in-kind donations of new or used products or services. Although it is rare that the proposed items are of interest to the Roulant, this type of contribution is nonetheless valuable to our events or to offset the costs of the Roulant’s day-to-day activity or strategic growth.
The scope of corporate partners varies widely: consulting firms, laboratories, transportation companies, industries…
That doesn’t mean we’re ready to work with anyone at any cost. Santropol Roulant’s work is governed by a mission, values and strategic plan.
Occasionally, the missions of the companies that approach us diverge from our strategic or constitutional priorities.
The Roulant team sees this as an excellent opportunity to engage in sometimes difficult conversations about our distinct fields of work, an opportunity to learn, and an opportunity to share our knowledge and perspectives. The goal is to have a valuable exchange and to grow from it.
There are concessions we are not willing to make. But in the process of sharing and learning, we want to make sure that our arms remain open.
To help us navigate these situations, we have created a corporate partnership policy that we invite you to discover here.
You will see that we pay particular attention to the following elements:
- Respect for labour rights and practices;
- Impact of products or practices on human health and the environment;
- Impact of products or practices on human systems and communities, such as wealth disparity;
- Implementation of community-oriented investment practices;
- The existence of and adherence to a corporate social responsibility mandate.
We use an imperfect but simple and effective system to guide our decisions.
Companies seeking visibility must be perfectly aligned with the Roulant in order to benefit. You won’t see corporate logos or thank-you plaques at Santropol Roulant. We focus on writing small publications or case studies, or creating educational videos, to enhance the value of the collaboration.
Companies whose mission diverges significantly from the Roulant’s will be invited to participate in an educational conversation.
Sometimes these invitations are declined, in which case the collaboration breaks down. We see this more as an opportunity to convey a message than as a risk of losing revenue. Such was the case recently with a tourist accommodation service company.
Similarly, some corporations have credited us with major changes in their practices, including an industry that redesigned its packaging systems after a long partnership with the Roulant.
Fundraising for social change
These practices are nuanced and require significant energy on both sides, as they are invitations to challenge and influence one another. Our two sectors are not so accustomed to talking about what brings us together or what separates us.
But we are convinced that transparency and authenticity in collaboration are very powerful vectors of education and social change.
Fundraising is as much a powerful tool for change as, say, urban agriculture.
As a community organization, we can have the tendency to be very generous to corporations. It is important, however, that the experience is not just one of charity and compassion. The value of the expertise and experience we bring to the table must be considered with the same, if not greater, appreciation as the time or money offered to us.
We see our relationship with the corporate world as a holistic, transformational exchange rather than a transactional one. With that in mind, we look forward to working with your company in the near future.
Melanie and Pier