Nicola Wealth staff donate time, effort to good causes
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