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2013 Award for Outstanding Corporation: The Calgary Herald/Calgary Herald Christmas Fund

Nominated by Fresh Start Recovery Centre and the AFP Calgary and Area Chapter

2013 Calgary award 400x527Twenty-three years ago, a small group of reporters approached their employers at the Calgary Herald with what they termed a “crazy idea.” They wanted to use their talents, research and influence to inspire a community into action. The result was the Calgary Herald Christmas Fund, which has raised millions of dollars for hundreds of organizations in the Calgary metropolitan area.

Since the fund began, the Calgary Herald and its staff have contributed extraordinary support to an average of 12 charitable agencies each year, along with nearly $400,000 in staff contributions and more than $200,000 in corporate contributions. But these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. The organization invested $16.6 million in print and online fundraising campaign advertising, as well as $1 million in administrative costs.

The Calgary Herald has also dedicated millions of dollars in editorial space that has highlighted each of the nonprofits’ mission and work in the community. The stories also shared the success of the agencies in achieving their goals.

The Calgary Herald’s seasoned reporters met with charity leaders, employees and people who have used their programs and services to create moving and inspiring stories. One article covered a young “wayward cowboy” who recovered through the efforts of Fresh Start Recovery Centre and now comforts his ailing parents. Another powerful radio piece recounted the development of a young man, formerly in prison, now welcoming his family to a holiday dinner at his home in a new community and recalling previous Christmases under the watchful eye of prison guards.

In addition, the Calgary Herald has worked to identify opportunities to leverage gifts, which resulted in more than $3.2 million in matching gifts in 2011 alone. The matching gift program was led by Allan Markin, a local philanthropist, who offered to anonymously match the fund dollar-for-dollar in 2011. Once Calgary Herald Publisher Guy Huntingford (right) convinced Markin to go public with his initiative, another local philanthropist Sam Switzer, phoned to increase his already generous donation by 400 percent. The result was a record-setting 2011, with more than $ 4.9 million raised in total.

In 2011, the Christmas Fund also enhanced its social media strategy, using Twitter, blogs and YouTube videos to highlight stories and bring the community closer together. The Calgary Herald also enlisted local celebrities, politicians and leaders to participate in social media discussions and heighten awareness of the selected charities’ causes.

All told, Calgary Herald staff have contributed nearly 17,000 volunteer hours to writing stories, making appearances, organizing events and ensuring that 100 percent of the funds raised are distributed to the participating agencies—a total of over $20 million since the Christmas Fund began.

The Calgary Herald’s extraordinary support of the Calgary community has made it a corporate philanthropic leader and helped inspire people who had never given before to get involved. AFP is pleased to present the 2013 Award for Outstanding Corporation to The Calgary Herald

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