Global Vision – Local Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of our clients, our partners and our team in an incredibly short timeframe, but the amount of generosity witnessed by the GVFB has been equally astounding. This includes a generous $50,000 donation by National Bank.

In April, National Bank donated $1 million to support a number of community organizations that help vulnerable people from coast to coast as a direct response to COVID-19. Many organizations had to respond quickly to an increase in demand resulting directly from the pandemic, including food banks. In BC, National Bank chose to support the Greater Vancouver Food Bank as well as seven other organizations, including the Canucks Autism Network and Help for Youth Canada – Project BackPack.

National Bank Philanthropic Vision

These generous philanthropic activities are not just a response to the COVID-19 pandemic; National Bank has a long history of charitable giving. They have been a leading economic player in Quebec and Canada since 1859, and they believe in supporting and developing the communities where they work and live.

“Our mission is to have a positive impact on people’s lives by building long-term relationships with our clients, employees, and communities,” says Darwin Schandor, Vice-President at National Bank Private Banking 1859 and member of the Bank’s regional committee for British Columbia, which distributes a number of donations to local organizations each year.

In 2019 alone, the Bank gave several tens of millions of dollars back to communities, including nearly $13 million in institutional donations. By design, their philanthropic efforts are wide-ranging but their goal remains the same—to change people’s lives.

Supporting Communities and Sustainability

National Bank’s vision aligns with the GVFB’s new Strategic Plan for 2020-2023. Both organizations strive to promote sustainability not only for their operations but also for the community around them. With 24% of the GVFB’s clients being children and another 18% being seniors, donations like National Bank’s help to support healthy food going directly to these demographics.

National Bank’s Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) principles and philanthropic activities take into consideration 12 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including 1) No Poverty and 2) Zero Hunger—concepts that are central to the GVFB’s mission of providing healthy food to those in need. One thing that’s clear is that National Bank’s philanthropic vision ranges beyond a single year or a single campaign.

“Supporting sustainable development is an intrinsic part of our mission as an organization. At National Bank, we want to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Our ESG principles demonstrate our commitment to building a sustainable future while representing the best interests of stakeholders,” says Darwin. “This vision is evident in all of our partnerships. Here in British Columbia, we express it in a number of ways, from the donations mentioned above to our agreement with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect Darkwoods Forest on the shore of Kootenay Lake.”

Employee Volunteering Program

The complement to National Bank’s ESG principles is its ambitious Volunteer Program. In 2019 alone National Bank volunteers logged 55,000 hours across 476 organizations, including the GVFB! That represents a value of $133,700 going back to communities thanks to their employees’ volunteer hours.

We asked Darwin what he might say to other organizations considering this type of program, and he told us, “We are fortunate to have committed people at the Bank. Our employees are naturally passionate about giving back and this has benefits on both sides: employee engagement is higher and community organizations that change lives can count on our employees’ support.”

“We believe people and culture are an organization’s competitive advantage and a key to its success. At National Bank, it is important for us to share this strategic asset with the community so they can benefit from our employees’ talent, values and strengths.”

A huge thank you goes out to National Bank, who have supported our mission to provide healthy food to those in need—both monetarily, and with volunteer hours! With over 8,500 people served weekly in the Greater Vancouver Area, you’re making a real difference in our community.