Ni­cola Wealth staff do­nate time, ef­fort to good causes

National Post (Latest Edition) - - MOST ADMIRED CORPORATE CULTURES -

When Jen­nifer Keates joined Van­cou­ver- based Ni­cola Wealth Man­age­ment more than a decade ago, the fi­nan­cial ser­vices firm was small and its em­ployee base was young and ac­tive, and the out­side ac­tiv­i­ties of its em­ploy­ees re­flected that.

“Right from the be­gin­ning when I started at Ni­cola, the man­age­ment and staff were all very in­volved in fun ac­tiv­i­ties that leaned to­ward giv­ing,” she ex­plains. “We did fun runs and char­ity events as a group. We were a small of­fice and some­one would say ‘ Hey, let’s do this,’ and ev­ery­one got in­volved.”

One price of Ni­cola’s rapid growth was the loss of that small- of­fice spon­tane­ity. To re­cap­ture the en­ergy, ex­cite­ment and to­geth­er­ness of those im­promptu events of the younger, smaller Ni­cola, the com­pany set up a char­i­ta­ble com­mit­tee.

Keates, whose full- time job is man­ager of in­vest­ment ser­vices, acts as chair of Ni­cola Gives Back, a com­mit­tee that or­ga­nizes for­mal events as well as help­ing to guide and en­cour­age staff to broaden the firm’s char­i­ta­ble ef­forts.

“The idea was that as we grew, we knew that we were adding new peo­ple with causes that they were pas­sion­ate about, and who we wanted to sup­port. As well, there are al­ways peo­ple who are not sure how to be in­volved or don’t have the time to get heav­ily en­gaged, or aren’t sure which char­i­ties to get in­volved with.”

The “Gives Back” in its name was no ac­ci­dent, she adds. “We don’t think of it as char­ity. Re­ally, what we are try­ing to do is to make sure that we are giv­ing a hand up. It is not just a hand­out; we are re­ally try­ing to ef­fect change lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

To en­sure that em­ploy­ees can find the time to sup­port lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional char­i­ties, Ni­cola has cre­ated a paid vol­un­teer day for staff that can be taken in half-day in­cre­ments.

Over the past five years The NWM Gives Back com­mit­tee has fo­cused on chil­dren’s char­i­ties both in Canada and in­ter­na­tion­ally, and its ef­forts re­flect that.

Last year, the com­pany or­ga­nized or par­tic­i­pated in a num­ber of events, in­clud­ing Mo­town Melt­down, an an­nual mu­sic event show­cas­ing Cana­dian vo­cal­ists in sup­port of Seva Canada. Seva works to elim­i­nate pre­ventable blind­ness to re­store sight in the de­vel­op­ing world.

Last sum­mer, Ni­cola staff raised more than $ 15,000 for Canuck Place Chil­dren’s Hospice Ad­ven­ture Race. Lead­ing up to t he race, train­ing/fundrais­ing events brought staff out for so­cial fit­ness ac­tiv­i­ties while rais­ing money. Th­ese in­cluded kayak­ing nights and spin classes, where do­na­tions were made. At the event, the fin­ish line was hosted by 20 NWM vol­un­teers, in­clud­ing John Ni­cola and David Sung and their fam­i­lies.

The i nvestment firm also has one un­usual chari t able en­deav­our: it fi­nances honey­bee hives in Rich­mond, B. C. In­clud­ing a five- year, $ 25,000 com­mit­ment to the hon­ey­bees, NWM lends vol­un­teer and fi­nan­cial sup­port to the city’s Shar­ing Farm, a three­acre farm in the Terra Nova Ru­ral Park that pro­vides lo­cal pro­duce for com­mu­nity char­i­ta­ble food dis­tri­bu­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Rich­mond Food Bank.

Why bees? Hon­ey­bees play a crit­i­cal role in pol­li­nat­ing crops and na­tive plant species and are un­der en­vi­ron­men­tal threat. The pop­u­la­tion of hon­ey­bees in North Amer­ica has de­clined dra­mat­i­cally from var­i­ous causes and bee farms such as the Shar­ing Farm play an im­por­tant role in re­vers­ing the de­cline.

The visit cul­mi­nated in the braver Ni­cola staffers see­ing “their bees” up close and per­sonal. “We have a cou­ple Ni­cola Wealth Man­age­ment bee­hives and we got to open up the hives and look at our bees and learn about them.”

NWM Gives Back con­tin­ues to evolve, look­ing for long- term projects that im­pact chil­dren, fam­i­lies and their com­mu­nity at home and abroad.

Ni­cola staff at Rich­mond, B.C.’s Shar­ing Farm, which pro­vides fresh pro­duce for lo­cal char­i­ta­ble


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