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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.

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.

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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“In order to make good decisions, you need to understand the geography of our time.” Commander Chris Hadfield

Understanding the geography of our time is as much about being able to see the world as if through a window at the International Space Station, as it is about knowing who and what is operating in our immediate field of vision. 

Just as when the flood waters rose in Southern Alberta in 2013, we have pulled together a group of individuals who have experience working with organizations in Nepal to help direct funds to organizations operating on the ground addressing the earthquake disaster.  You can donate to this fund through P2G Nepal Relief Fund.

These organizations have a proven track record during a time of crisis and when going about their day-to-day operations.  I have identified the organizations and how the funds will be used over what period of time so that you know what to expect as a result of your donation.

As always, there is the Red Cross, however experience has shown that the funds raised by this organization tend to get pushed into the machine of the Red Cross so, while it is a steady organization, if you are wanting to see impact and have an emotional connection to how your funds were spent, there are other choices.

Questions to ask when considering donating to crisis relief:

I have been a member of the Calgary South Rotary Club for almost five years and it was at a recent meeting that I started reflecting on what being a member of this service organization has meant to me.

The Rotary Four-Way Test has been a cornerstone for how I operate in the world and how I envision my company operating.  In large part it is this test that helps articulate my corporate values internally and externally and also that which provides my team as a guiding framework for decision making – as a way to self-authorize decision making.

Guest Blogger - Bob McInnis, Remarkable People: Bob is a provocateur and storyteller making meaning through the snippets, posts, presentations, and short stories he creates. Living in Calgary and California, he watches remarkable sunrises and amazing sunsets and tries to raise a bit of a ruckus between them.

On Saturday April 18 and Sunday April 19, I was please to attend a Dexterity Ventures event exploring the question “Is your investing strategy undermining your philanthropic efforts?”

The Saturday night panel challenge the participants at Hotel Arts  to consider where we have our financial investments including RESPs and RRSPs and if these specific funds or companies were positively or negatively impacting our philanthropic efforts and the causes we are passionate about. The choice to invest in the environment versus opting to divest from energy companies was handled without the rancour and contempt that often arises. All the panelists understand that a measured transition is needed and a careful analysis of any unexpected or unintended side effects implemented.  Jenna Nicholas from Phoenix Global Impact shared with the group that they are undertaking a measured Divest/Invest approach that tests the thesis along the way rather than making a once and for all sell/buy decision.

Philanthropy in the family enterprise model is distinct from other family based charitable giving programs.  What makes philanthropy planning for family-owned businesses and their successors is the relationships that the enterprise has with the family.  Over the next three weeks I will be sharing a series of posts about philanthropy in the family enterprise model, leading up to the Michael Shuman, Social Impact Investing summit that is being held in Calgary on April 18 and 19 as part of the REAP Calgary Down to Earth Week.

80% of Canada’s economy is built on small and medium sized businesses.  It is estimated that 90% of those are family owned.  What comes to mind when I say family business might be some of the larger names like McCain, Ford Automotive, Loblaws (Weston Family), Sobey’s, Wal-Mart, Cargill, and Shaw; but there are a number, lesser known or more localized family businesses that cover every possible industry in our country from automotive to agriculture, from retail to construction, from IT to the energy sector.  With such large market-share in our economy it’s a wonder that we don’t hear about the strength and values that family businesses bring to our economy, especially when things are turning downwards.

Some major developments have happened with the technology at Dexterity Ventures Inc. (DVI) over the first few months of 2015. Here is the overview of what has been going on: