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Toronto agency lets staff choose their own worthy causes

Michael Beckerman’s Ariad Communications put up $25,000 that was evenly divided among 10 employee groups’ pet projects.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The donors: Employees at Ariad Communications

The gift: $25,000

The causes: Ten Toronto-area charities

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When Toronto-based marketing agency Ariad Communications hit its 25th anniversary, the company's 130 employees wanted to do something novel to mark the occasion.

The company came up with $25,000 to donate to local charities but instead of bosses making the decisions about where to send the money, employees made the choices.

They broke up into 10 groups and each was given $2,500 to donate. Group members proposed charities and the final selection was based on a vote.

"The only stipulations were that the charity had to be something local, where $2,500 would make a difference," Ariad president Michael Beckerman said. "Seeking needy and less high-profile, under-the-radar not-for-profits was part of the process."

The final list of 10 charities ranged from Covenant House, a homeless youth shelter, to Sketch, which works with disadvantaged young people, and Peoples Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

"We all ended up learning a lot more about different causes," Mr. Beckerman said. Company donations "used to be to the pet causes of the president or executives. This is the way we feel the company should be proceeding."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

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