Gena Rotstein's blog

Two days ago I was sitting down with some of the leadership of the Canadian Women’s Foundation with a client discussing what it means to be a feminist today.  I don’t consider myself one, but I definitely wouldn’t be heading up a company if it wasn’t for the work that the women did before me.


Here is what one of the ladies from CWF sent me after our discussion.  She took this photo at one of the recipient charities that CWF supports:

Tonight Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO is speaking in Calgary at the Memorial Park Library.  Here is a successful woman entrepreneur, angel investor and author who is challenging women to think differently about what the word feminism means.

I recently learned that a friend and mentor passed away.  Dr. Richard Steckel challenged me to think bigger and not limit what I could accomplish simply because the current market trends and community pressures said that it was impossible.

Give-A-Mile Impact Update

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...

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.

The Answer to Complex Problems... Simplicity

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.

Family Dynasties and Social Change - In Response to the Economist April 18, 2015

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.”

What Impact Will You Make in Your Lifetime?

“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. 

Nepal Earthquake and Charities to Support

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.

Crisis Funding Questions

Questions to ask when considering donating to crisis relief:

Rotary 4-Way Test and My Business Model

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.