The Future of Philanthropy - Reflections on National Philanthropy Day

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.

Succession Planning v. Continuity Planning

Working with families on their legacy is more than just conversations around estate, endowments, bequests, donations to charities and taxes.  It is about continuing on what was created in previous generations.  This is where succession planning differs from continuity planning.

A Succession Plan is an output of continuity planning.  It includes both the emotional and technical solutions around wealth transfers.  Continuity planning is the journey or process that leads to the successful transition of wealth between family members, owners and operators, friends, community and we cannot forget, government.

#ProBonoCDN Talking Light Media - Videos that Change Lives

Pro-Bono services are not just limited to legal and accounting firms.  In this post, Talking Light Media highlights how they have provided video production and directoral support to charities around the world, thereby saving organizations thousands of dollars in digital marketing expenses.

Talking Light Media is a video production company based in Calgary that believes in doing what it can for communities, locally and around the world. When Steve Mason and Jamie Moorhouse founded TLM in 2003, they wanted to give back, but they were not in a position to offer financial assistance. However, they could tell a story and use their skills to help drum up support for local charities.

Steve and Jamie came to the charity world from their own unique, individual circumstances and experiences.

Last month I attended a retreat on Wasan Island exploring the Pro-Bono Marketplace in Canada.  Following that retreat, I reached out to the small and medium sized businesses and the family enterprises that I work with to hear their stories on what they do for charities and start-ups in Pro-Bono offerings.  The following are two examples of how small businesses are making a big impact in our communities.  This is the second story in the series and is about Ramp Communications, a PR and Marketing firm based in Toronto, Ontario.  The first one you can read about in the Karma & Cents newsletter.

Please email me your story so that it can be shared through the Dexterity network over the coming weeks.  Small and medium sized companies provide 10's of Millions of Dollars worth of pro-bono services annually and very rarely do they get recognized for their contributions and the financial ripple effect it has with organizations across Canada.

Pro-Bono week is Oct. 23-29, 2016.

This year Canadian Thanksgiving and the Jewish High Holy Days are back-to-back;  Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is a time for celebration and reflection on the year that past and what lays ahead.  There are 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when we are hopefully written in the Book of Life for another year.  This year, Thanksgiving falls smack in the middle adding another layer of self-reflection and connection with family and friends.

For me, this time of year is always a challenge.  I always find myself entering into a major metamorphosis starting early September and ending sometime around late November.  Perhaps it is the change of season, or perhaps it is culturally ingrained.  

This year is no exception.  I have been reflecting a lot on wealth, happiness and what success looks like; for me personally, and for my company, as well as for my clients.  Below are some thoughts in the context of my work as a philanthropy advisor and facilitator of legacy and succession plans within families.

Some of the most rewarding projects I get to work on, are the ones where donors want to bring in other players beyond the initial fundee.  There are different ways in which philanthropists can engage the broader community (either close ties, or ones that are several degrees removed):

  1. Challenge Grants
  2. Connecting Organizations
  3. Opening Doors
  4. Advocating on Issues

This year we are partnering with Goodpin, Ramp Communications and Kevin Hayes Digital Media Strategist to bring retail philanthropy to the forefront. 

Why is retail philanthropy so important?

Because it drives economic growth, spurs innovation and fosters accountability.

Guest Blogger: Josh Swallow is an undergrad student at Texas A&M. He is currently in his final year and exploring opportunities in the non-profit sector for his career.  This summer he spent time working at Dexterity, meeting with charities, donors and social entrpereneurs.

I think it is safe to say that technology has had a huge part in my life since the day that I was born. So many aspects of my life have been made “easier” because of it. For example, paying my bills at university is one of the simplest things in the world now (aside from having to let go of them sweet, sweet, dollar bills y’all) that takes a few minutes of my time whereas it used to be somewhat of an ordeal. This is a simple example but the same concept can be applied to charitable giving. So how has technology affected the charitable sector?

This past week I had the opportunity to work with a number of businesses, family foundations, corporate foundations and charities exploring the role that the Pro-Bono system works in Canada.  The summit was facilitated by the Taproot Foundation in partnership with the BMW Foundation and convened at Wasan Island in partnership with the Breuninger Foundation and the McConnell Foundation.

There are four key stakeholders in the pro-bono market: those who provide the pro-bono services, those who receive or benefit from those services and those who fund the activities either directly or indirectly.  At the intersection of these three stakeholders are the intermediaries (fourth stakeholder) – those firms or individuals who facilitate the connections between stakeholders.  These intermediaries can be virtual (platforms like Taproot Plus) or face-to-face like Endeavour.

What does chaos systems and theory have in common with family dynamics and family systems? 

It’s seems quite a bit.  According to research and family advisor, Gunther Weil “Family culture is constituted by energetic fields. These are generative controls - people’s values, beliefs and ideas are creating self-organizing “implicate order,” not hierarchical authority.  The strongest energy fields emanate from shared meaning – the shared values or values system which is the Strange Attractor creating and sustaining the family culture.” – The Quantum – Chaos Family Advisor World View

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.

For those of you who have been following this blog over the years you will know that I have had the privilege of living and working all over North America and afforded opportunities to travel internationally.  With this global perspective comes the ability to compare and contrast communities and societies; something that is not lost on me.  As I watch what is unfolding around the world over the past few weeks and, perhaps even the past six months, I am confounded at how human nature and tribalism seems to bring out the extremes of the best and worst in people.