BMO-DOCWebGiving back to the communities where they live and work is part of the culture at BMO Bank of Montreal, and has been an important part of their organization right from the beginning. Locally, BMO employees and various branches have been actively involved with United Way Greater Victoria’s Workplace Campaign for decades.

Their campaign gumption is evident in everything from employee participation to their dedication to increasing revenue. “Our campaigns are leader-led from the top of the Bank all the way through the organization,” says Henry Donkers, BMO Regional Vice-President for South Vancouver Island. “When I was very young my family benefitted from charitable giving. It made a difference in my life and it helped me understand why it’s important to help others.”

BMO’s dedication and enthusiasm to learn and give more to United Way’s network of services has not gone unnoticed. Last year, BMO won the Financial Challenge Cup at United Way’s Spirit Awards. A friendly competition based on employee participation and fundraising tactics, United Way’s Financial Challenge brings together financial institutions in Greater Victoria to amplify their workplace campaign efforts. Based on various criteria, including engaging with the community, the Financial Challenge is an energetic way for financial institutions to up their game.

Keen to build on their success in 2016, the BMO Campaign Committee has really focused on their employee engagement in lead up to this year’s Financial Challenge. Led by Employee Campaign Co-Chairs Amanda Mitchell and Mackenzie Edwards, their committee has been out in full force at UWGV events. “We motivate our employees by asking each branch to select a Branch Ambassador to represent their offices, and invite them on Impact Tours to see firsthand how their donations are at work in our community,” says Mitchell. “This gives them the opportunity to bring their experiences back to their branches to share with their co-workers and encourage them to participate.”

BMO employees also brought their energy and community spirit to Garth Homer Society. Through a United Way Day of Caring, two BMO groups dug into the dirt to help clean up the Garth Homer gardens.

“Participating in Days of Caring makes us more aware of what is happening in our communities,” says Donkers. “Employees have the opportunity to see the benefit of their help first hand. So many people walking by Garth Homer that day were encouraging about our work in the gardens. I kept thinking we are only pulling a few weeds, look what so many of you are doing each and every day. It said to me how important it is to contribute in any way possible – no effort is too small.”

BMO employees recently returned to Garth Homer as part of a United Way Community Connections bus tour, to learn more about the Society’s programs and services for adults with developmental disabilities, and to deliver boxes of supplies for their kitchen facilities.

“BMO continues to show exceptional team and community spirit,” says Patricia Jelinski, United Way President & CEO. “As a customer-focused institution for 200 years, they understand the importance of helping those in need and we are grateful for their support.”

“Our employees are very proud of BMO’s philanthropic culture,” adds Donkers. “Our corporate giving and our employee giving is a great source of pride. It was never designed to be a team building exercise, but it does build a team. Giving back to the community unites us and makes us proud – you can really see the impact of this in our teams as they come together for common good.”

You can change someone’s life by donating to United Way’s community campaign. Pledges and donations are accepted at workplaces, United Way’s office at 201 – 633 Courtney Street, via phone 250-385-6708 or online. For information on how to start a workplace campaign, please contact Hazel Braithwaite, Director of Community Campaign at 250-220-8947 or hazel@uwgv.ca.