A New Dawn in Southern Ontario

Remarks at the Launch of Global Philanthropic’s Office in Toronto, December 1, 2015

“Thank you Dr. Sedra for your kind words and it is especially an honour for me to have you among us on this special day.

I would like to begin by saying that Toronto and southern Ontario in general is a special place for me – because it is here that over nearly 16 years, I learned the ropes of fundraising. I learned from some of the leaders in their field – Lorna Somers and Peter George at McMaster University, Malcolm Burrows and Diane Lister at Sick Kids Foundation and Adel Sedra and David Johnston from the University Waterloo. And I am privileged to return to my roots to serve the charitable and not-for-profit organizations in the region.

Toronto at Dawn

This region is also special because of the sheer diversity of organizations located here, the creativity and innovation in philanthropy that occurs at institutions here, and the setting of new thresholds in transformational giving from this region. Organizations across Canada and indeed elsewhere look up to Toronto and southern Ontario for their cues on the next levels in whatever they are doing. The rising tides in Ontario pulls all institutions of all stripes across Canada with it.

My decision to join Global Philanthropic is based on one important consideration – that ideas, especially good ideas and best practices, have no geographical boundaries.  Global’s philosophical underpinning – the 4 C’s – are all forged through a deliberate effort in international collaboration. And so what Guy, Karen, John and I can offer our respective clients are based on the latest and best practices.

Let me give you an example. About a month ago, I was asked by a client in the United States with a practice in Hong Kong, to undertake the latest research on Foundation Board Compensation, a practice that is not common in Canada. In collaboration with my colleagues in other countries, we were able to wade through significant research data on the subject and provide our client with the latest and current information and our recommendations.

What especially excites me in my new role, is in helping organizations unwind the “tensions” that afflict virtually all organizations. What do I mean by “tensions”?

Over the course of my career, I have worked in international development organizations, universities, health care institutions and environmental charities.

In all these organizations there are tensions between entities that consider themselves stakeholders – environmental charities navigate tensions between environmentalists, energy companies and governments, universities navigate tensions between higher student expectations, governments with shrinking resources, business demands on the type of academic programs and research and the multiplicity of rankings.

These tensions affect philanthropic giving because the organizations need to follow a fine line so as not to alienate donors in being seen close to one or more of the sources of tensions. Careful assessment of diverse cultures and thinking of stakeholders, developing strategic plans keeping their concerns and aspirations in mind, and deliberate focus on key prospects from cultivation to stewardship separates the achievers from those that have the intentions but are unable to translate them into plans.

In a recent blog (posted on Global Philanthropic’s website), I wrote about the fact that many of the 83,000 registered charities are facing increasing pressures on their sources of revenue. While donations have been generally stable as a percentage of GDP, they are showing signs of softness accompanied by a relative static number of donors in Canada. I have argued that for organizations to survive, and indeed thrive in such an environment, require four key approaches – staying abreast with “smart data”, an ongoing quest for “creative and innovative solutions, adopting a constant mode of “strategic planning”, and imbibing a “global focus”.

I encourage you to read this blog, and consider how best to draw into your respective operations the adoption of these approaches. We, at Global Philanthropic, are committed to provide our clients customized solutions that draw the best on these approaches from around the world.

I would be delighted to work with you and your teams, and support your efforts in making a difference in our communities. After all, that is the ultimate litmus test of our success – through improvement of the quality of lives of the communities we serve whether it be in our immediate neighbourhoods or around the world, and whether it be in the health care sector, education programs, our environment, enriching arts and culture programs, social services or anything else. This is what keeps us doing what we all love doing – making a difference.

I thank all of you for coming this evening to celebrate the launch of Global Philanthropic’s office in Toronto, especially on this “Giving Tuesday”, a day for giving thanks. … a global day dedicated to giving back.

Thank you.”