Why founders need to rethink how to scale alongside how to give back

charity, donation, giving back
Canadians are more likely to support businesses that are mission-driven.

Being a founder in 2022 means that you have an obligation to both scale responsibly and bake social responsibility into your growth plans. Following the past few years of impressive market growth, we’ve been seeing trends of more Canadians donating shares to charitable causes, and as we look ahead to an uncertain future, embedding social purpose into your business is non-negotiable.

Identify what you care about, and use that to fuel new ways that you can give back to the community.

Canadians are more likely to support businesses that are mission-driven – this is nothing new, and something we’ve seen grow during the pandemic. In fact, purpose-driven branding is a newly-coined term revolving around the process of purpose over profit.

In addition to the consumer perspective, your employees, stakeholders, and investors are looking for a purpose, too. Over 60 percent of workers under the age of 35 said the primary purpose of businesses should be “improving society” instead of “generating profit.”This growing motivation cannot be ignored; by 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be millennials who want to make a positive contribution to society. Incorporating giving back into your growth plan is no longer a nice-to-have, it is essential.

Over the past year, we’ve seen the benefit of having social purpose baked into growth plans several times through the exits that have impacted the Canadian tech ecosystem. Companies like Wattpad, Inkbox, and LevelJump serve as examples of what can happen once a company has a liquidity event, and the monetary value it can provide on the “other side.” We’re lucky to have initiatives that are supporting Canadian, early-stage, high-growth startups, helping them pledge a portion of their equity to charity. Over the past 12 months alone, Tech4SickKids has raised $700,000 for SickKids Hospital after successful liquidity events from our ecosystem.

When I founded Quill, I knew I wanted to give back in more ways than what directly impacted our business. Now, as the Co-Chair of Tech4SickKids, I am dedicated to showcasing how easy it is to make an impactful difference in the community. I can scale Quill, and raise money to build a new emergency wing at SickKids Hospital, at the same time. Growing means growing beyond your business – it means being committed to philanthropy.

Here are three major ways founders can rethink scaling their business with social responsibility in mind.

1. Use your business proposition to inspire new ways of giving

How can you add value to your already-established goals and objectives? If your business is focused on increasing financial accessibility, how can you provide financial resources to those who can’t afford a financial advisor? If your business is focused on providing educational resources in a digital format, how can you make education accessible to Canadians that don’t have electronic devices?

Identify what you care about, and use that to fuel new ways that you can give back to the community. There are so many incredible organizations to donate to, but finding a cause that you are passionate about will make growth even more meaningful to your organization.

2. Identify the causes that are near and dear to your team

Giving back is not just in the eyes of a founder, but the team it fosters as well. Host a discovery session with your board members and then, with your company at large, to understand what causes mean the most to them. Commission an internal, anonymous survey that allows them to identify organizations and dive into why it’s important to pledge their upside to them.

3. Open the door to networking

Connecting with value-aligned founders can open your eyes to new, untapped opportunities. To that end, networking with like-minded investors can be the start of your next big stage of growth. Doing good is a great way to not only grow your network but also have meaningful conversations with other champions in your industry. It’s that simple – your next big idea could stem from a powerful conversation you have with someone else.

As post-pandemic life transitions to a new sense of normalcy, we are seeing the return of in-person functions. Just last month, Tech4SickKids hosted its first Founders Dinner Night: Scaling with Purpose, where we brought together an exclusive group of ten seed and Series A-stage founders at a roundtable. Events, both big and small, are back in action, so why not have a seat at the table?

Elevate your profile, increase awareness for your mission, and share that passion with your community – you never know the opportunities that could be waiting for you.


Fatima Zaidi

Fatima Zaidi is the Founder and CEO at Quill Inc., and CoHost, a podcast growth and analytics tool. As a member of the National Speakers Bureau, Fatima has spoken at various events around the world on media and tech trends. In addition to being a commentator for BNN Bloomberg, she is a frequent contributor to publications including The Globe and Mail, and Huffington Post, and has also been featured in publications like Forbes, Inc, Business Insider and Entrepreneur. Over the past few years she has won two Top 30 under 30 awards, the Young Professional of the Year by Notable Life, Veuve Clicquot’s Bold Future Award, The Women in Content Marketing Award, and one of Flare Magazine’s Top 100 Women. Fatima is Co-Chair of the #Tech4SickKids council for SickKids Hospital which is the second-largest pediatric research hospital in the world.

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