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Prevention: Getting ahead of the game

by Scott Cameron, President/CEO

Community investments in the arts, sports and preventive human services can build up people, families and communities, providing people with valuable opportunities to learn new skills and develop protective factors that shield them from harmful situations they may encounter. And the good news? Protective factors work and can be measured!

Traditional approaches to community requests for corporate sponsorship have focused on a logo prominently positioned on a jersey, a space in the performance program, and occasionally a unique cross-marketing opportunity that highlights the good will of a local business. bassa Social Innovations can help to provide corporations with more – true evidence that a sponsorship or investment strategy is making a difference.

Understanding protective factors

Protective factors are conditions (ie. skills, knowledge, behavior, etc.) that exist to protect against negative outcomes associated with risks that individuals, families and communities might encounter.

For example, a sense of belonging that emerges from being part of a team, a choir, or a strong and cohesive neighbourhood can protect against harms associated with addictions, crime and mental health concerns. Protective factors like increased knowledge of parenting and positive communications skills in relationships can influence the home environment for children growing up.

Protective factors can be measured and reported on to provide sponsors with a level of assurance that their community investments are having a positive effect.

A balanced portfolio

Investing in prevention can have a powerful and meaningful impact on the individuals, families and communities reached through a well thought-out and deliberate community investment strategy. Imagine the power that testimonials and data from your investments might have in communicating and marketing your position in the community. Shareholder confidence in your operations can be reinforced by the strong intentions and thoroughness of your community investment strategy.

While risk factors (like addictions, homelessness, bullying, etc.) will continue to be part of our reality, and may very well be addressed as a priority in your community investment strategy, a balanced portfolio between risk and protective factors helps to ensure that present circumstances are being addressed while attending to the future needs of your community – and guarding against those risk factors becoming worse.

Even within a risk focused investment strategy, protective factors can be incorporated to ensure that results generate positive outcomes for service recipients.

Preventing bad press

When the team hits the ice prominently sporting your logo on their jerseys, it’s hard not to be wrapped up in the excitement of the game, the success of the team, and the goodwill of your company – but what happens when the local rag picks up on abuse or bullying happening behind the scenes. A well-designed community investment strategy that includes monitoring and reporting, can help to ensure that your company isn’t implicated in a bad situation and may, in fact, have the ability to prevent such occurrences from happening in the first place.

Community investments can be a powerful motivator for local service providers. The potential loss of a major sponsor can awaken an organization to potential problems within their midst.

Effective monitoring and reporting built into your community investment strategy can position your company to influence poor performance and generate positive results for individuals, families and communities. It’s entirely logical and increasingly common for community investments to be accompanied by some basic expectations for performance and reporting – your community investment strategy should reflect the values of your organization and the recipients of your goodwill should align with those values.

Let’s not discount the significance of a visit or call from the head of a local corporation to the president of a local community organization that’s identified issues with a community program or service. There’s a powerful message that’s delivered when the local sponsor is aware of challenges that need to be addressed to prevent harm in the community. Your community investment strategy can help to prevent harm.

Prevention outcomes

Alberta is a global leader in understanding prevention. Through the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) program conceived in the mid-60’s, Alberta communities have been delivering on and reporting on preventive measures for over half a century.

bassa Social Innovations employs staff that are intimately knowledgeable with the work of FCSS in Alberta, and have respectively helped to grow the understanding and technology needed to measure protective factors and outcomes in prevention. This specialized knowledge will move your corporate community investment strategy to new heights, and provide you with the confidence that your investments are making a positive difference for individuals, families and communities.

Prevention has a place in your community investment strategy.

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