Cash giveaway helps iA Financial (TSE: IAG) celebrate 125 years in business

FREE MONEY! Raise your hand if you want some. Actually, you’ll have to do more than that: say, open a door for someone, help carry a stranger’s bags or give directions to lost tourists… and make sure you’re seen by the iA Financial Group’s “charity squad.”

In four Canadian cities, iA Financial is sending out charity squads awarding $125 cash to 1,000 lucky people (250 in each city) who are spotted performing “spontaneous good deeds” as a part of the company’s 125th anniversary celebrations. The campaign began in Quebec City on Jan. 23-26 and moves to downtown Vancouver Feb. 8-11, then travels to Toronto Feb. 13-16 and concludes in Montreal Feb 20-23.

“The purpose of this initiative is to encourage people to do good deeds and work together in their daily lives, to brighten their day for a few moments, and thank them for 125 successful years,” Yvon Charest, president and CEO of iA Financial Group said in a news release. “With this initiative, we respect the fundamental philanthropic values of our company.”

The company is also active in donations and sponsorships “that seek to improve people’s quality of life” and work with organizations “that foster development in health, education and social services.”

The company began as Alliance Nationale in Montreal in 1892, while Industrial Life Insurance Company was founded in Quebec City in 1905. In 1987, the two entities merged to become Industrial Alliance Life Insurance Company, which later became better known as Industrial Alliance. Until the early 2000s, Industrial Alliance was most widely recognized as a life insurance company. With sustained growth and more than 50 targeted and strategic acquisitions, Industrial Alliance became a major institution with subsidiaries in several areas of financial services and rebranded as iA Financial Group.

While it contains a component of “feel-good” visibility, this $125,000 giveaway is just one way companies give back to the public and its employees. Condiment maker Kraft Heinz gave its salaried staff (among its 42,000 employees worldwide) a one-day paid holiday on Monday, although quite a few of them would have likely booked it off anyway as a vacation (or sick) day to recover from Super Bowl festivities. In a more serious vein, since 2010 Bell Canada has run its “Let’s Talk” effort to encourage communication on mental-health issues; from its inception, Bell says it has donated almost $80 million to the effort towards its goal of $100 million by 2020.

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