Pioneering People and Planet before Profit

As a young girl with two side ponytails, Kim went door-to-door with her mother canvassing for cancer research each spring. One year she was on crutches with a sprained ankle and thought she could stay home from the annual fundraising quest. But her mom said, “You need to come with me! People will be more likely to give if they see you trying to help the cause while injured!” Her mother taught her that we all have the confidence to do challenging things and make a difference. And showed her how telling a story can change behaviour.

Kim never forgot these lessons. Kim knew by age 14 that she wanted to go into advertising like her father, and decided after graduating university that she wanted to work with not-for-profits. Everyone told her that she was crazy because it was an under-funded market. They said she could never build a business on that model. Kim researched until she found a firm in New York called Big Duck that was doing exactly that. She read the founder Sarah Durham’s book, Brandraising. And her journey began. If Sarah could do it, Kim could do it too.

Twenty years later, Phil, named after the Greek word meaning “to love,” is flourishing. They help socially minded businesses and not-for-profits coast to coast communicate with their donors and customer, raise more money, and strengthen their brands. The Phil philosophy is people and planet before profit. And being one of the 230 B Corporations in Canada solidifies the way Phil has always done business. As defined on the B Corp site, “B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good.”

Doing well while doing good. The Phil way.

In 2016, Phil started working with The Missing Children’s Network to revamp their brand. At that time, they had an operating budget of under $400,000. A few years later, after strengthening the brand and the organization, the charity’s operating budget was over a million dollars. Using marketing materials created by Phil, the group began rolling out a school program the charity had created called SHINE to talk to preteens about the negative side of running away and how it often leads to sexual exploitation. Runaways make up 90% of the missing children in Canada.

Their new look and feel gave them the confidence they needed, and their donors and donations increased with that newfound energy. Pina Arcamone, Executive Director of the charity remembers, “We were at a crossroads and we needed help. Phil took us under their wing and had such big hearts. From a new logo to harmonizing all our communications tools and updating our website, they did it all. They just got us. And their expertise in the philanthropic world is so important.”

The overarching picture for Phil is how the little things done each day can add up to something really big. Especially if all those little things have one idea in mind: making a difference in people’s lives.

As Phil moves towards celebrating its 20th anniversary, Kim is excited about what the future holds. “The two lanes of for-profit and non-profit are moving closer together,” said Kim. “There are a growing number of for-profit companies led by social entrepreneurs or aspiring B Corps. We need to get the corporate world to think about doing good. Some already are but aren’t marketing it to customers and telling that story. They often don’t know how to showcase community stories. Our team can help companies tell those stories and in doing so, they will inspire others to follow.”

Phil has their work cut out for them over the next twenty years of the journey. They need to educate charities on how to measure the impact of their work. To help charities better demonstrate how they make a difference in their community. To highlight how funding overhead costs are necessary to run a strong ship that can offer better services to its users. To share how transparency is key. And to bring more for-profits to the table and share their decades of knowledge in communicating a good story to customers who want to make a difference.

From a little girl going door-to-door raising money for cancer to an award-winning social entrepreneur who is helping those doing good do better, Kim is making sure her company, Phil, lives up to the Greek definition of its name… to love. Love the people you work with. Love what you do. Love the difference you are making with your actions. In the end, love is all you need.