Why Do We Have Random Act of Kindness Day™?

On November 7th, 2014 the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the Windsor and Essex County community as a whole, took part in Random Act of Kindness Day™. If you are not already familiar with “RAK Day”, it is a day in which the WindsorEssex Community Foundation encourages individuals from around the community to engage in acts of kindness. This could involve many different things, such as holding a door open for someone, to donating sports equipment to local schools, buying someone a coffee, or giving someone a compliment. No matter how small or big the acts are, they all have one common denominator: kindness. Such a simple concept, but over and over again I hear from individuals: “Random Act of Kindness Day™? I do random acts of kindness all the time!” Usually followed up by: “why do we need a day to tell people to be kind if we’re already doing this?” The answer is simple. The point of Random Act of Kindness Day™ is merely intended to celebrate doing kind acts for others in our community, and at the same time, encouraging others to “pay it forward”. Like any other special day we celebrate in our community, Random Act of Kindness Day™ serves as a tiny reminder for the rest of the year. Our lives may get busy throughout the year, but on November 7th we are reminded to be kind and to pay it forward.

Posted by Kyrsten

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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!

Sincerely,
Glenn

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.

The Right Tool for the Job

In 1917, Julius Rosenwald, president of the Sears Roebuck Company, used $70 million of his personal wealth to form the Rosenwald Fund. Rosenwald chose not to endow this fund, but rather decided that all of the $70 million was to be used for charitable purposes so that by the year 1947, the Fund would be gone. Rosenwald explained that he wanted to avoid “the tendency to bureaucracy” and other shortcomings that he saw coming with permanent endowment funds.

Some people today agree with Mr. Rosenwald and donate substantial amounts of money to establish funds that are to be used up in a set period of time. This year’s Federal Budget changed rules governing foundations to make these types of gifts easier for foundations and charities to set up and manage. Perhaps this is why we see more articles recently in the media advocating for self-depleting funds like the Rosenwald Fund.

But not everyone agrees with Mr. Rosenwald’s theory that permanent endowment funds automatically bring bloated bureaucracy whose sole purpose is “to prolong their existence indefinitely.”  As proof of the vibrancy of the custodians of permanently endowed funds, we can turn to foundations such as the Winnipeg Foundation, celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and continuing to support the Winnipeg community vigorously and with great positive effect.

So, should you endow your philanthropic gift in perpetuity as many Canadians have done? Examples of these permanent endowments would be: the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation, and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.  Or should you set up a self-depleting fund as Mr. Rosenwald did?

My advice is this. Since you have the option of using either means to achieve your philanthropic goals, I suggest that you use the one that will work best. Is there a specific problem that you want solved? If so, then set up a fund that will be finished when the task is completed. If your cause is one that will continue in perpetuity, then set up the fund to match. You even have the option of using both types of funds if you have the financial resources to do so.

Great Place to Leave A Legacy logoI have one more suggestion for you. Since community foundations have the expertise in establishing the types of funds that will best achieve your philanthropic goals and since they have the widest range of options to offer each donor, why not use them as the stewards of your funds? Remember, community foundations are great places to leave your philanthropic legacy.

Sincerely,
Glenn

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

When I Least Expected it – Kindness Appeared

When I least expected it – A Random Act of Kindness Appeared!

For the past year, I have been encouraging people to consider doing random acts of kindness. I have read many reports detailing the good things that have happened through the program we put in place last November. Yet I was flabbergasted when I was the recipient of the very thing I have been advocating.

Allow me to explain. I had just settled down for a five-hour flight on Air Canada. I was in the window seat in the last row of the crowded plane – seat #37A. When the flight attendant brought the snack cart by, I thought that I would buy a bag of cashews and offered the attendant a $5 bill as payment.

“Sorry sir,” she said. “Credit cards only.”

I thought to myself that this was no way to do business. Why should I use my credit card for such a small purchase? So I decided that I would protest by not buying anything. Then my seatmate took out his credit card and bought me a bag of cashews. When I least expected it, a random act of kindness appeared!

In retrospect, what so surprised me was the result of this simple act of generosity. For the rest of the flight, we had an extended conversation about many things. This gentleman went out of his way to make my day better and I was touched by it in a very positive way. To use and old adage, he made my day.

Random Act of Kindness Day logoWe are just starting to plan for Random Acts of Kindness Day 2011. While we use a single day to highlight caring, I am pleased to report that generosity happens every day in any number of good deeds done when people least expect it. Count me as one who has experienced it personally!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Check out these sites for more information on Random Act of Kindness Day:

The Community Foundation – A Great Place to Leave A Legacy!

WECF Communications Coordinator, Mike Morency, came across the tag line, “A Great Place to Leave A Legacy” while doing some research in preparing our annual “Leave A Legacy” ad. The slogan is now part of our ad.Great Place to Leave A Legacy logo

I was taken by the phrase when I first saw it a couple of weeks ago and it continues to resonate with me; a mark of its effectiveness. I am excited to use it because it is a great reminder that we need to plan well when we draft our Last Will and Testament.

Your final instructions in your Will are exactly that – final. So, we need to take into account as many of the variables as we possibly can when we make those final instructions. Here’s an example. You are passionate about helping cure a specific disease, so you establish an endowment fund for treatment for those afflicted by the disease and research to find a cure. What if the disease is cured? Impossible, you say? How about tuberculosis and all of the TB sanitoriums that used to be around — all gone because of better treatment options. I’m a Rotarian and our vision is to eradicate polio – we are so close. If it happens, what to do with endowment funds established strictly for the eradication of polio?Rotary "end polio" logo

How then can your final instructions establish a legacy that will be flexible enough to handle an ever changing world? Establishing a donor advised fund at a community foundation will do that. As the world changes, the fund advisor you appointed in your Will continues the conversation with the Community Foundation, ensuring that your legacy fund’s annual grants really do make a difference in the WindsorEssex community of the future. That is why the WindsorEssex Community Foundation is a great place to leave a legacy.

Sincerely

Glenn

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.

Building Community One Random Act of Kindness at a Time

Random Act of Kindness Day logoFor the past month, the Community Foundation has been promoting Nov. 12 as Random Acts of Kindness Day. I see a random act of kindness as a wonderful way to touch the life of another person. In turn that act cultivates community by promoting interaction between our residents, making our region a better place for all.

A few people have asked about the necessity of having to legislate kindness. My reply has been that we are not telling people to be kind; rather we are celebrating the many acts of kindness that happen every day, especially in the Windsor – Essex County area. We believe that sharing the many stories builds a strong sense of community needed for sustainability.

Since we have been promoting Random Acts of Kindness Day, different people have told us about previous experiences with similar programs. Cindy Rivait talked about bringing the program to Windsor in the late 1990s. Mayor Francis spoke about a “random acts of kindness” program sponsored by the Windsor Roseland Rotary Club. Janet Kelly shared information about the Windsor Family Credit Union’s Random Acts of Kindness involvement by employees at their branches for several years.

The Community Foundation appreciates that we are building the next level for a tradition that has been in place here for at least a decade. We are excited about how the program has been received this year. We are very appreciative of the generosity of our sponsors and we look forward to their continued involvement as we continue to build community one Random Act of Kindness at a time. For more information about our sponsors, visit our website at www.wecf.ca/kindness.html.

Sincerely,

Glenn

Glenn Stresman, Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation

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

Additional Random Act of Kindness websites to visit:

Transition Planning

Monica Patten, Executive Director: Community Foundation of Canada

Monica Patten, CFC Executive Director

Like it or not, transitions are a part of life. A media release from our national association, Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) reminded me again of that fact.

The media release announced that CFC Executive Director Monica Patten was leaving her position effective in 2011.The transition will be a significant one for the organization. The media release noted that Monica has been Executive Director for 17 years. She took over a brand new association and has helped it grow to a membership of over 170 community foundations across the country. At our national conference in 2011, member foundations will have the opportunity to express our appreciation to Monica for her service on our behalf.

Since transitions are a fact of life, whether we like them or not, we deal with them. Because community foundations always think in the long term (perpetuity is our favorite word), even significant changes such as replacing the top executive in the organization are handled with planning to avoid disruption. Philanthropy is too vital an act to let transitions stall its good work so we plan for changes to happen in good order.

The thought of transitions in our personal lives draws our attention to our own personal succession planning. Is our legacy of philanthropy to pass by happenstance to others without direction and the resources needed? Better to take the opportunity to pass our legacy of charitable actions on to the next generation through a well defined plan of action. Let us start that succession planning today. Send me an e-mail. I will be happy to discuss how you can set up an endowed fund at the WindsorEssex Community Foundation as part of your philanthropic legacy.

Glenn Stresman


Recent survey’s show that less than half of Canadians have a valid will.  Do you agree with that statement?

Post your comments below!


More on Legacy Planning visit:

10 Reasons People Choose to Work with their Community Foundation

Leave a Legacy Canada

Darrell J. Canby “How do you want to be remembered?”