Gena Rotstein's blog

Quarterly Notes from the Tech Team – Q2 2015

Some major developments have happened with the technology at Dexterity Ventures Inc. (DVI)! Here is the overview of what has been going on:

GIVE_api Version 2.5

We have been busy working on updating our GIVE_api. The latest version will be release early in Q3, and will include the ability to make real-time payments.

Developers Libraries

To aid developers in implementing our GIVE_api in their projects, Dexterity Ventures Inc. has created a series of libraries for some of the more popular development languages.

Developers can download the GIVE_api development libraries for Android, iOS, ASP/.NET, JAVA and also PHP. Each of the packages contains the full library, a detailed readme file and a useable demo. If you have any questions regarding the libraries, please contact us at

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How Trust Builds an Economy

Today I attended the Toronto Vital Signs event hosted by the Canadian Club, with keynote address by the CEO of the Toronto Foundation, Rahul Bahardwaj.  There were six things that Mr. Bahrdwaj highlighted that Toronto, and in fact, other major cities should focus on when thinking about the social fabric of their communities.  Of the six things that were highlighted, there was one in particular that I want to touch on - that of TRUST.

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RPM Project Finalist!

We are excited to announce that we are finalists in a contest to win up to $25,000 in marketing services from William Joseph Communications’ RPM Project. Now that we have been announced as a finalist – this is where you come in. The winner is chosen by the public through a social media vote to determine the winners.

To vote for DVI please Tweet both of the posts we drafted below about the project.

  • Very excited @DexterityInc made top 10 in #theRPMProject! Retweet to help us win $25K in marketing services from @wj_agency #DexterityInc
  • #DexterityInc is excited to be a finalist in #theRPMProject! Retweet so we can be one step closer to winning $25K in marketing services

You can also vote on Instagram by sharing the RPM Project Finalist image (pictured right) and using both of these hashtags - #theRPMproject and #DexterityInc in your message

As a DVI supporter, we thank you for helping us win!

If possible, we’d also love for you share it with your network!

Calgary’s business community launches a new initiative called Give to Grow​.

The Chamber of Commerce, Calgary Economic Development, Calgary Public Library Foundation and Place2Give have come together to lead Calgary’s business initiative Give to Grow​.

Calgary requires a well-educated, literate workforce to grow our economy of the future. The return on investment for early childhood education is extremely high. Higher than any other point in life. So this small business week the Give To Grow campaign is encouraging Calgary small businesses to get involved and donate to support childhood literacy. And we’ve made it easier than ever.

Early Literacy Facts and Figures

  • When the results from the ECMap, the Government of Alberta’s Early Childhood Mapping Project, were published, it was a shock to realize that nearly 29% are experiencing great difficulty in one or more areas of development!
  • For school-age children, the statistics are as startling – it is estimated that by the end of Grade 6, at least 30 % of Canadian children can’t read or write well enough to succeed in school.
  • There is more – 1 in 5 adults in Alberta do not have sufficient literacy and numeracy skills to cope with the daily requirements of personal, social and economic life.
  • Last but not the least, over 10 % of Canadian children is affected by learning disabilities; 80% of them experience difficulty in learning to read!
  • People’s literacy skills as adults are largely determined in their early years!
  • These stunning numbers are a wake-up call about the literacy crisis that affects us all.

What can be done about this?

  • Giving all children a strong foundation in early literacy skills is the place to start.
  • For every $1 invested, analysis shows the return ranges from roughly $1.5 to almost $3, with the benefit ratio for disadvantaged children being in the double digits (TD Canada Economics).

Redesigning the system of giving - An exploration of system design and philanthropy

I recently presented at the RSD4 summit on systemic design and philanthropy held at the Banff Centre.  Below is a copy of the presentation and what follows are the key concepts that I shared.  We are at a critical point in North American policy history where we can fundamentally shift the way that money flows between and around charities, non-profits and social businesses.  Whether you think these issues are complex or complicated, at the core there is a groundswell of people who are striving to change a system that is fundamentally flawed - the way we transact for social change.

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Summit on Philanthropy and the Role of the Family Enterprise

This week I've had the honour and privledge of leading a day-long summit on philanthropy alongside Deborah Goldstein, Enlightened Philanthropy and John A. Warnick of the Purposeful Planning Institute.  This summit covered five key areas within the giving space and drew upon expertise from the likes of Bruce Deboskey, Tracy Gary and Joanie Bronfman.

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The Economics of Giving

The news lately has focused on the bad economy, growing personal debt and the downward trend toward a recession.  It’s times like these that the media also focuses on the vibrancy of the charitable sector and increased demands on front-line agencies like food banks to meet the needs of newly laid-off individuals and others affected by a down market.

Here’s the thing with giving, the true philanthropy, it is non incentivized. It is a transactional response to an emotional experience.  In a down economy we still have those same emotions.  My observation is, that in some cases, these emotions are heightened under the constant reminder of financial insecurity.  So when charities cry poverty during a down economy, my guess is that they were heading this way long-before the economy took a turn.  The financial environment accelerated or exacerbated the situation.

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Anyone can be a Philanthropist - Your very own micro-foundation

I walked into the Co-op liquor store the other day and the woman in front of me said - “Oh you’re that woman who works with philanthropists.”  I smiled, laughed, and confirmed her statement. I then asked how she knew who I was and she mentioned she heard me speak at an AFP conference a couple of years ago.  When she left the cashier, a man in his late 50’s, turned to me and said, “I don’t think I have ever met a philanthropist before.”  That made me laugh. I have previously written about who is a philanthropist and the mindset hasn’t shifted much.  

It is for this reason that I created myPlace2Give.  A site dedicated to creating your own personalized micro-foundation. You get to pick the charities, set the disbursement amounts and the timelines, share with your friends and we take care of all the reporting.  Why did we do this?  Because anyone can have their own foundation, you don’t need to have millions of dollars to create meaningful impact in the world.

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Quarterly Notes from the Tech Team: Spring 2015

It has been busy here at Dexterity Ventures Inc. (DVI) over the second quarter of 2015. Here is a quick snapshot of what the Tech Team has been working on:

Version 2.0: In May we released Version 2.0 of our GIVE_api, which provides access to the data that DVI has gathered on 1.6+ million charities across North America. The XML/JSON web service gives developers the ability to quickly add philanthropy into a web or mobile based application. Developers were also able to use the GIVE_api at The Change Tank, a social good idea and pitch event that took place May 22-24, 2015.

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Charities and the Internet of Things

I attended a workshop hosted by Debian IT the other day and one of the topics was on the Internet of Things, and how this industry is shaping the way that small businesses operate, specifically with regards to consumer behaviour.  This got me thinking as to how wearables and smart technology will be influencing the way that we engage with the charities that we support AND how charities will adopt some of the technologies into their daily operations.

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