Gena Rotstein's blog

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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I am Not a Feminist but...

Two days ago I was sitting down with some of the leadership of the Canadian Women’s Foundation with a client discussing what it means to be a feminist today.  I don’t consider myself one, but I definitely wouldn’t be heading up a company if it wasn’t for the work that the women did before me.

 

Here is what one of the ladies from CWF sent me after our discussion.  She took this photo at one of the recipient charities that CWF supports:

Tonight Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO is speaking in Calgary at the Memorial Park Library.  Here is a successful woman entrepreneur, angel investor and author who is challenging women to think differently about what the word feminism means.

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In Memorium - Founder of the Milestones Project, Richard Steckel

I recently learned that a friend and mentor passed away.  Dr. Richard Steckel challenged me to think bigger and not limit what I could accomplish simply because the current market trends and community pressures said that it was impossible.

Richard was a visionary. From his work at the Children's Museum in Denver, CO to the creation of the Milestones Project, he will forever be remembered as a thought leader in the social enterprise world.  

If you were in Calgary five years ago, you might have had the opportunity to experience his photo exhibit in Gallery 213 or in the years that followed, posted in the arrivals level of the Calgary International Airport.  His photography has stood the test of time and depicts the true spirit of humanity from around the world.

Donations in Richard's memory are being directed to his organization, the Milestones Project, via  Place2Give for Canadian donors.

Give-A-Mile Impact Update

Give a MileFor the past six months or so Place2Give has been supporting Give A Mile by connecting donors to flights so that families can be reunited in a time of crisis.  In an our ongoing commitment to report on what happens as a result of the generosity of our clients here is an update from GAM Founder, Kevin Crowe.


Our impact to date =  

112 Flights given to people for visits of support.
22 International in nature 
4,352,280 miles used


That is 112 people distressed and worried.  People unable to get to their loved ones, people who went from moments of despair and anxiety to moments of love and support.  You have done all of it out of the goodness and compassion of your hearts.  How many sleepless nights have you removed?  How many last fond memories have you given that will allow healing and people to move forward?   How many times has a loved one who was alone and afraid been comforted by the love that may have not been there but for the work and effort you have put in to make a flight happen. 

How to put it in to words ….. a hand reaching out to hold that of a loved one whose time is running out….  In the words of a flight recipient...

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Community Foundations & Philanthropy Advisors

The philanthropy advising space is getting crowded.  Community Foundations are experiencing first hand the shift in the market as more institutions establish Donor Advised Funds (DAF), and more private family and multi-family offices engage philanthropy advisors to work on the social capital questions with their clients.

What role do independent philanthropy advisors play in the community foundation context?  We support community foundations in the areas of research and leveraging relationships with other donors to drive greater impact.

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The Answer to Complex Problems... Simplicity

We have tasked the charitable sector with the mandate to solve complex problems.  Social problems like poverty; health problems like childhood obesity; future problems such as educating the next generation.  As funders we then fall into the trap of requiring large reporting mechanisms and "proof."  These processes draw down on resources and are sometimes in conflict with what our perception of the value of spending funds on the overhead required to meet these reporting requirements.

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Family Dynasties and Social Change - In Response to the Economist April 18, 2015

In the April 18th, 2015 edition of The Economist the opening editorial about leadership ended with the statement, “Family power, like any other sort, needs watching over.  If it cannot be contested, it should not be welcome.”

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