charity

This week are celebrating National Philanthropy Week across North America.  It is a time to reflect and celebrate those who have positively impacted our communities and is the lead-up to #GivingTuesday events around the world.

As such, I thought it worthwhile sharing some thoughts on a recent event hosted by Imagine Canada on the future state of the Social Sector.  I attended the one in Calgary. It was a panel discussion moderated by Allan Northcott (Max Bell Foundation) and the panelists included Sharon McIntyer (Chaordix), Tracey Vavrek (Community Foundation of Northwest Alberta) and Dan Overall (Trico Foundation).

There were some common thoughts shared across the panel and a few other observations that came from the discussion following the panelists’ remarks. Please note, I have paraphrased the questions and answers.

Guest Blogger – Josh Swallow: Josh is a summer intern and attends Texas A&M University where he is studying Business Management with a Certificate in Not-for-Profit Business. “I have always wanted to help people but never knew exactly where that would take me in life. When I started to learn more about the multitude of nonprofits around the world and how much good they were doing I knew that was the industry that I wanted to end up in!”

Nonprofit organizations in the U.S. are in a very interesting position when it comes to taxation. If the qualifications are met, an organization can gain tax-exempt status which allows said organization to be exempt from paying some federal income taxes. While this is a fantastic concept that is absolutely helpful to the nonprofits that it applies to, I can’t help but feel that the qualifications for gaining this status may be too lenient. Thus, in this post I am going to talk about some of the baffling organizations who have gained and reatined this status and why I find this is troubling.

In July 2008 I wrote a piece for the Calgary Herald on charities and overhead.  Then in June 2013 as a result of the Alberta Flood this issue came up again in response to the Canadian Red Cross and the lack of transparency.  Fast forward a few more years and once again a natural disaster, this time the Fort McMurray Fire has brought this issue to the forefront of donors’ minds.  So I thought I should break down the cost of doing “The Business of Philanthropy.”

Every time you make a donation to a charity there is a cost.  Who pays this cost depends on how the transaction is made, what organization it is going to, how that agency is structured and what the internal capacity of the organization is to handle the transaction.

Dear 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.  

Do you ever have buyers remorse?  What about donor's remorse?

GivingTuesday has come and gone, we were bomarded with solitications, actively participated in sharing on Facebook and Twitter our favourite causes, volunteered at organizations and attended events celebrating philanthropy and the charitable sector.  

After all of this, now what?  GivingTuesday, for donors, is an opportunity to make their annual gift to their favourite charities and in many cases have the funds matched by other donors or corporations.  For charities it is a way to amplify their story on a unified platform.  But what happens next?

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.

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...

This week I had the privilege of attending the Nexus Youth Summit in Washington, DC.  The purpose of this summit is to bring together leaders in philanthropy, social enterprise, social finance and the Next Generation for a series of conversations that lead to action around the critical issues facing our communities - locally, nationally, internationally.

One session that stood out in particular for me was a session on Climate and Philanthropy.  A panel discussion with:

As you can see, this panel cross the spectrum of Republicans and Democrats with a view to find economic solutions and market-based solutions to environmental problems.  

Every month we share the latest tech updates to the Place2Give website and the technology solutions offered through Dexterity Ventures Inc.

The entire Dexterity Ventures (DVI) team has been head down in preparation for GivingTuesday and the presentation at CKX Summit in Toronto (more info about that here) that happened on November 20th. As such, we would like to use our tech blog this month as a taster for the things we've launched over the month.

We set-up and launched the GivingTuesday Campaign for Place2Give and Dexterity Ventures in anticipation of Tuesday December 2nd (aka 2014’s ‘GivingTuesday’). The Place2Give GivingTuesday Motif Giving Campaign can be found here.

Over the past five years I have been writing about strategic giving and social impact investing.  Since starting this blog, Generating Social Capital, and working with clients on the Karma & Cents™ philanthropy planning process the landscape has changed and as a result so too has my approach to strategic philanthropy.  

As we enter into the holiday season, as is typical, we will all be approached to donate.  Some of us will look at this as opportunity to give as part of our tax planning process, others will be looking at the holiday giving season with more of a philanthropic approach.  Either way, giving should be done with mindfulness.

Enter GivingTuesday. A national movement that is leading the charge on counter-balancing Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Please read on, to learn more about how we are encouraging people to use the GivingTuesday movement for strategic philanthropy.