Gena Rotstein's blog

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.

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)

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.”

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:

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.

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.  

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.  



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.

The Day After...

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?

2015 Charity Listing

Wondering where you should donate this year?  Here is a list of organizations that Place2Give Foundation donors and Dexterity Consulting clients have supported this past year: