Resolution Re’s bold steps through its social responsibility programme
Sometimes philanthropy can be a bit like the chicken and the egg: do you start with a desire to support a specific issue in the community – or the unsupported need that must be addressed if our community is to thrive?
One corporation based in Bermuda took some bold steps to ensure their corporate social responsibility budget would have maximum impact. Resolution Re, the global reinsurance operation of Resolution Life Group was established in Bermuda in 2017, and the company developed its long-term CSR strategy in March this year. The company decided their best approach would be to “go deep” and support one organisation, rather than make multiple small gifts.
Resolution Re’s 2021 strategy focuses on two areas of funding interest: training and education, and mental health, as correlated with poverty/living below the low-income threshold and hardship. The company was looking for targeted investments in:
1, Job training, retraining/retooling, vocational education and GED attainment, resulting in employment
2, Programmes that help individuals and families navigate stress, financial fragility (financial literacy) and context-related anxiety due to the knock-on effects of Covid-19, such as job loss and quarantine.
The challenge then became where to direct those funds. Resolution Re employee and chair of the CSR committee, Pam Williams, had worked with Bermuda Community Foundation in the past and was excited by its approach to philanthropy. On her recommendation, the company reached out to BCF for guidance.
It was not easy to identify the organisation they were looking for. Surprisingly, although most people have agreed that tackling unemployment and underemployment and the impact of joblessness are community priorities, there is little support provided in this area.
When they did find what they wanted, Resolution Re was prepared to take another bold step: to invest in a start-up organisation. Transitional Community Services, and their Community Bridge Builders programme was only established in late 2020.
The registered charity’s target population is young adult men, particularly Black men, aged 18 to 34 because data shows that they are the group most at risk and underserved in Bermuda. The men with whom TCS engages represent a group that has been disproportionately incarcerated, have limited academic qualifications, higher rates of unemployment and tend to engage in substance abuse. Many of them have experienced trauma in their early years, and this is believed to have contributed to their “failure to launch” – or a failure to thrive.
It was just what the funders had been looking for – and for TCS the commitment was a dream come true. Funds that support a meaningful proportion of a key person’s salary, for example, means that the employee can spend more time on mission-focused activities.
Funds donated by Resolution Re will assist with meeting operational costs of the Community Bridge Builders programme, enabling the TCS staff to deliver care management, counselling and employability skills-building.
TCS executive director Tiffanne Thomas was bowled over by the result: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Resolution Re. And thank you for Bermuda Foundation’s support, which has been invaluable in getting us through the process.
“This has taken me completely by surprise and thinking about the possibilities for our young men I am really excited about what this will mean for them. This is huge. We celebrate this as an organisation. We will share with the men we work with how we are being supported and how this is a partnership with them as well.”
It is the type of gift that would be welcomed by many non-profits because it means the organisation can carry out its work without the distraction of having to start the year in a fundraising frenzy. Resolution Re has made this a reality for TCS this year, next year and the next. They will still need operational funding for sure, but this gift eases the pressure to a degree.
Resolution Re CEO Steve Hales welcomed the opportunity to invest in TCS: “We are really excited that we have made the connection and now can develop the relationship, including engaging our colleagues in providing skilled volunteer services and more.
“It takes a lot more than technical training to provide a real second chance for people who have not had the opportunities many of us take for granted. TCS's approach of integrating soft skills and mental health aspects aligns closely with Resolution Re's belief in treating people as people, not just skill sets. Our relationship with TCS now forms the core of our long-term corporate responsibility strategy.”
Chioke Lodge, Resolution Re project manager and a member of the charitable giving committee summed it up: “To my mind, if we help get even just one or two men employed or re-employed, off the street and on to a better life, we have had an impact. We want this to be an active partnership - perhaps not boots on the ground but any assistance we can offer in terms of technology, accounting, project management – we could even tutor math and show young men how their talents can be used. We want to make sure that this is a back-and-forth relationship. This goes beyond making a donation for us”.
Like the chicken and the egg, you cannot have either without the other.
• Submitted by the Bermuda Foundation to acknowledge the start of the giving season: National Philanthropy Day (November 15), Community Foundations Week (November 15-19) and Giving Tuesday (November 30)