Gena Rotstein's blog

Sharing Your Life Means Sharing Financial Information, Too

This post comes courtesy of Sybil Verch of Raymond James. Please make sure to view this interview with Sybil entitled The Wealthy Life.

Before you say “I do,” it’s a good idea to sit down and discuss your finances. Even if you’re already married or in a committed relationship, scheduling a regular “financial date” to proactively talk about moneywill help avoid any unpleasant surprises in the future. Here are some ideas of what to talk about:

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Madison's 1212 - A Community Restaurant, One Chair at at Time

A community focused and community funded restaurant in the inner-city neighbourhood of Inglewood, in Calgary, Alberta is the latest social business to launch in Calgary's growing social enterprise sector.  It's mission is to be a beautiful space where people come together to create, enjoy, share and become inspired.

What is a community built restaurant?  It is one where each of us in the neighbourhood take a financial stake in the success of the business.  During the day, it is a coffee and co-work space in the evening it is a pub featuring craft nachos, unique salads and craft beer.  In the summer the patio opens up for curbside dining, people watching and overall neighbourliness.  In essence, we are building the buisnesses that we want to have in our community and we are taking ownership of their successes.

For more information on Main Street investing check out Michael Shuman's book Local Dollars, Local Sense or catch this video.


Money Makes the World Go Round... Philanthropists Set the Agenda

This weekend I caught up on my reading.  You know what that is like - the back issues of magazines that you have been wanting to get to, the pile of books that you bought (some because they make you feel smart, other’s because they make you smart, and still others that are brain candy) that are lying on your nightstand or on the table beside your favourite reading area.

The book I picked up this weekend, The Philanthropic Mind, by Chuck English & Mo Lidsky, is a set of case studies about Canadian philanthropists.  Alongside this book I read an article in The Atlantic, “The Poor Man’s Plutocrat” by Molly Ball. And serendipitously on 60 Minutes Presents, was all about "Making a Difference".  So all in all, it was a weekend of reading or watching how people are choosing to use their money for good and the influence that these decisions and investments are having beyond the charity or social issue that is being addressed.

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"Oh the Places You Will Go..." Collective Impact Model & Literacy

About a year ago it was brought to my attention that due to low literacy rates in North America, the generation that is currently in elementary school will not be literate enough to carry our economy forward.  Low literacy, is what Horst Rittel would call a, Wicked Problem.  As I have explored this issue as part of the Give to Grow Fund I have come to realize that literacy isn't just about the ability to read.  Literacy directly correlates to:

  • access to local language (English as a Second Language training)

  • health and nutrition (kids can't learn on empty bellies)

  • access to banking services (parents can't learn financial literacy without the tools)

  • seeing employees as part of the revenue side of the equation by investing in their professional development (employees can't advance in their field if employers aren't investing in them leading to economic growth)

  • acculturation and integration (language nuance and social norms)

  • supplies in schools and quality education

  • access to literature outside of the school and work environment (book deserts)

OpenArmsYYC - A grassroots response to anti-immigrant sentiments in Calgary

Guest Blogger: Danica Strocen was born and raised in Calgary Alberta. She is a recent graduate of Mount Royal University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology.

Last year, we saw incredible and heart breaking pictures of refugees encountering, succumbing, but often  overcoming to incredible obstacles in their search for a safe and secure haven. In Canada, similar to other parts of the world, we also witnessed a sharp rise in anti-refugee rhetoric. These anti-refugee messages were filled with distrust and fear. Refugees were (and continue to be) being presented as dangerous and detrimental to our way of life.  Amongst this bitter environment, our Mayor, Naheed Nenshi courageously stepped forward and urged Calgarians and rest of Canadians to welcome the incoming refugees with “open arms.”

In the meantime, like many Canadians, I continued with my daily life wondering what I, if anything, could do to help the people fleeing human made and natural disasters.  What can I do myself?  How can I heed Mayor Nenshi’s message of inclusivity and openness? Then suddenly, one discussion in one class gave us an idea of what we could do.  During my SLGY 4731: Feminist Theories course our professor, Dr. Irene Shankar, presented anti-refugee messages as examples of “othering” and racism. Collectively, we discussed other historical moments when the world has witnessed violence against particular groups (such as genocide of Jewish citizens in Europe, Tutsi and Hutu groups in Rwanda and Muslim and Roman Catholic groups in former Yugoslavia) and was either too slow or unresponsive in aiding the affected. Unfortunately, there is a long history of well meaning people looking away or ignoring the plight of those affected during such times of violence and crisis.   

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I'm Late, I'm Late, For a Very Important Date... Year-End Donations for Tax Credit

The last week of December is the final push that charities make for year-end donations.  Even with this added push, it does not mean that donors should rush into a major decision because they realize they have to get the tax credit taken care of.  Strategic giving is as much about finding the right charity partner to execute on your social vision as it is about financial planning.


Here are some things to keep in mind for these end-of-year charitable transactions:

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Retail Philanthropy - More than just the Three C's

I have spent the day cleaning out my inbox and came across this Harvard Business Review article, "Making Charity Pay" from October 2014.  This past Giving Tuesday and, for the past several months, I have been writing and speaking on this idea of #RetailPhilanthropy, or using consumer driven approaches to generating sustainable revenue for charities while at the same time tapping into the consumer mindset.

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What is the right “cost” of doing the business of philanthropy?

Based on some of the conversations I have been having at TheCardThat.Gives booth at Sunridge Mall and via the various social media and blog posts, there is a general consensus that the average donor doesn’t know, or understand the costs of doing the business of philanthropy.  

It’s time to change this.  

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Apples to Apples - A Response to the Financial Post's Charities of the Year Report Card

FP Charity AwardDear Editor of the Financial Post and Claire Brownell;

What does it cost to end poverty in a specific city?  How much should we be investing in early childhood literacy? Do we know the economic impact that domestic violence is having in a specific locale and are we spending the right amount with the right charities to address this issue?

When we talk about charity effectiveness and impact we need to look at things in the context of the problem that the charity is mandated to address.  The Financial Post just released their 2015 list of effective charities - of the 86,000+ organizations they identified 25 large, national organizations that meet their grades.  

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Eight Crazy Nights...


For the past week the Place2Give team have been at booths around Calgary selling TheCardThat.Gives.  Over the course of these weeks we’ve had interesting conversations with people about their charitable giving and what the holidays mean to them.  In one such conversation, a customer shared what her family does for the eight nights of Hanukkah.

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