Celebrating Small Biz and Community - ProBono Week Oct. 23-29

Last month I attended a retreat on Wasan Island exploring the Pro-Bono Marketplace in Canada.  Following that retreat, I reached out to the small and medium sized businesses and the family enterprises that I work with to hear their stories on what they do for charities and start-ups in Pro-Bono offerings.  The following are two examples of how small businesses are making a big impact in our communities.  This is the second story in the series and is about Ramp Communications, a PR and Marketing firm based in Toronto, Ontario.  The first one you can read about in the Karma & Cents newsletter.

Please email me your story so that it can be shared through the Dexterity network over the coming weeks.  Small and medium sized companies provide 10's of Millions of Dollars worth of pro-bono services annually and very rarely do they get recognized for their contributions and the financial ripple effect it has with organizations across Canada.

Pro-Bono week is Oct. 23-29, 2016.

Giving Tuesd'ehIt didn’t happen all at once.

It wasn’t one of those AH-HA moments people talk about. Instead, what Shelley Mayer, President and owner of Ramp Communications came to believe was, while marketing general merchandise (in her case, cars) is a perfectly fine way to make a living, there had to be more.

“I saw healthy marketing budgets being used to get people to make buying decisions and I began to consider what I could do to influence and motivate people to also be moved toward social change,” she says. “I knew the budgets would be a fraction of what I had access to at the time, but that didn’t have to mean the basic fundamentals of marketing strategy and creativity wouldn’t work. It just meant the work had to be leaner, the team more nimble, and the passion unfailingly genuine.”

And so it was that 5 years ago, Shelley established Ramp Communications, a full service agency dedicated to creating a vibrant social profit sector capable of solving our generations most urgent challenges.Ramp Communications

In that time Shelley has assembled a team of like-minded professionals. Ramp is now a powerful mix of senior advertising industry leaders, and the next generation of strategists, and creatives, all working together to champion change in the non-profit sector.

The very foundation of the agency is based on a spirit of giving back. It is in this spirit that Ramp provides comprehensive marketing and communications services on a strictly pro bono basis for Massey Centre, a fully accredited Children’s Mental Health Centre which supports pregnant and parenting adolescents aged 13 – 25 with housing, education, and counselling.

Another recent pro bono project taps into the insight that Canadians are, by nature, kind and generous. Using Giving Tuesday – a movement designed to counter the commercialism that surrounds Black Friday activities – Ramp partnered with GoodPin and Place2Give to put a unique Canadian spin on it, branding it Giving Tuesd’eh and creating a campaign that retailers and corporations could use to promote the spirit of giving and philanthropy within their organizations in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. More information about the Giving Tuesd’eh campaign can be found at generousnation.ca.

The Ramp approach is a recipe that has worked, and the boutique east end Toronto agency continues to grow, adding more and more charities and causes to its roster through consistent account wins in 2016. In addition to ongoing work for The Canadian Mental Health Association, some of Ramp’s newest clients include Daily Bread Food Bank, ALS Canada, The Region of Peel, and Holy Trinity School.

“The secret to our success, I think, is that the people I work with, both on the client side and my team, are all dedicated to what they do,” she continues. “If I had one piece of advice for anyone trying to build a business like ours it would be to spend time creating and testing out a defined set of core values that you can authentically live and breathe every day. We have ours – it took time to build them by the way – and what I have learned is that if they truly reflect who you are as an organization, they will help inform every single business decision you will face.”

This year to celebrate Pro Bono Week, the agency plans to source out five charities and create what they are branding as their “good-deed-a-day” campaign. In its first year, this intitative will offer strategic and creative ideas to charities within the not-for-profit sectors they service, including mental health, education, and health-related causes.