What’s in Store for Philanthropy in 2012?

What’s in Store for Philanthropy in 2012?

Times they are a changing,” Bob Dylan.

This past year it seems that we have discovered philanthropy.  We always knew that people gave to causes they cared about.  We always knew that we could help others by donating our time and skills.  We always knew that there were organizations focused on charitable works.  But it seemed that the charitable sector was always the quiet one.

This past year, charitable giving has attracted much more attention.  I have seen articles covering a broad range of topics including: the future of volunteerism in Canada, the need to legislate salaries for executives in the not for profit world and, how to protect yourself from solicitations by unscrupulous charities.  As a measure of increased interest in the sector, The Globe and Mail published an excellent series of articles in October about the evolution of philanthropy.  The Globe now runs a regular column written by Craig and Marc Keilburger.

Where in times past we decided on which charities to give to based on our own experiences, we now trust organizations like Charity Intelligence Canada and GuideStar (US) to tell us which charities that ask us for donations are the most effective.

So why are times in the charitable sector changing?  I will put two reasons forward.  The first, I suggest, is that the need for the work of the charitable sector is more visible that it ever was before.  The effects of the economic troubles together with the reporting of the many natural disasters that have overtaken us in the past several years have put the need for charity vividly before us.

The second is that we now realize how big the charitable sector in Canada is.  Charity has become big business and continues to grow.  The upside to the growth is that there are more funds available for the sector to work with.  The downside to the growth is that the sector attracts more people preying on our good intentions.

So what is to become of the charitable sector?  For those of us who work in charities, we know that we need to be more efficient and more effective as we look to what we do.  Our donors expect us to be duly diligent.

However, I also see that we are still being driven by our sense of responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing of those around us.  Charities will continue to be the solid third pillar in our society.

So with deference to Bob Dylan, my final thought is this.  While times today continue to change, the core philanthropic values that have motivated us in the past remain in place.  We will continue to support the many good works the sector does.

Best wishes for 2012!


Glenn Stresman

Glenn Stresman is the Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation and has over 20 years experience in both writing and evaluating grant applications.


A Grant from the Heart

NailsThe often quoted proverb, “For wont of a nail, a kingdom was lost,” reminds us that a small act can influence large events.  The writer of the proverb uses the story of King Richard III riding into battle unknowingly with his horse improperly shod. For that reason, the king’s horse loses a shoe, the king falls in battle and the kingdom was lost, all for the wont of a nail.  The point made is that small things often carry great importance.

In our Community Impact Grant Round this fall, one of the smallest grants that we provided is the proverbial nail that grows in importance far beyond what one would expect.

This fall, our grant review committee selected The Infant Memory Box Project to receive funds totaling $1,000.  These funds will purchase materials that high school students use to construct small wooden boxes – containers for precious remembrances for the parents who have lost infants and toddlers.  Whereas before the hospital staff and grief counselors from CMHA had to make do with only a plastic bag to present to the grieving parents, they now have a finely crafted wooden box, reflecting the care and concern of the young craftsmen and women who have fashioned it.

From time to time, people ask me how we decide which applications to fund.  My answer is that the grants review team members look for the potential impact that the project will make.  Experience has taught these skilled volunteers to look past the numbers and focus on how the project will build our community.

Each year, approximately 65 infants and toddlers die in hospitals in the Windsor-Essex area. The students and teachers from GECDSB high schools that craft these boxes to be used in the most trying of times do so because they care deeply about those around them who are struggling to cope. This is the essence of philanthropy. The Community Foundation is honoured to provide the funds for such a worthy project.

For more about this grant and others that were awarded this fall, go to our Grant Stories page.


Glenn Stresman

Glenn Stresman is the Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation and has over 20 years experience in both writing and evaluating grant applications.