Donors from diverse communities want to give to charities that speak to their interests and needs, says expert. SUPPLIED
It was a fundraising partnership with a difference. In the summer of 2007, the William Osler Health Centre Foundation and Brampton's Sikh community came together to hold a 48-hour Sikh prayer ceremony at the site of the new Brampton Civic Hospital, set to open that fall.
The response was overwhelming – 15,000 community members attended the Akhand Paath ceremony over the weekend. They also made donations totalling $200,000, one component of the Sikh community's multi-million-dollar contribution to the building of the hospital.
This fundraising success story was highlighted earlier this year at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) South Asian Philanthropy Conference in Toronto, as part of its "From Diversity to Inclusion in Philanthropy" initiative. This three-year project was organized by the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy Canada and the Greater Toronto and Ottawa chapters of the AFP, and received support from Ontario's Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.
The project includes 12 one-day conferences that bring together community leaders and philanthropists with non-profit organizations and fundraisers. Each conference focuses on the charitable giving traditions and interests of a distinct community, including several ethno-cultural and immigrant groups.
"Every community believes in giving and sharing, but different groups express that in unique ways," says Krishan Mehta, vice-president of inclusion and equity at AFP and co-chair of the conference series. "One clear message we are getting from these conferences is that donors from diverse communities want to give to charities that speak to their interests and needs. We are learning that fundraisers need to make the time to understand the cultural cues that will eventually lead to building stronger, inclusive relationships with different groups."
Engaging donors from various groups is increasingly important as Canada becomes more diverse, says Mr. Mehta. "These conferences are showcasing all of the ways it's done and ask us to rethink how to meaningfully engage people both on the ground and in leadership circles."
Conferences to date have focused on the South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean, Jewish and Aboriginal communities, as well as women. Future conferences will include groups such as youth, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ, Hispanic, Muslim and Francophone communities.
According to Industry Canada, only 12 per cent of active non-profits have made the transition to the Canada Not-for-Profit Act. It's a process that requires changing bylaws, among other things, and those who fail to comply with the new regulations by October 17, 2014, will be dissolved.
Kate Lazier, a partner at Miller Thomson LLP, says the transition process also offers non-profits the opportunity to ensure their governance practices are up to date. Read more about the new legislation – and the experience of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship with its transition to the NFP Act – online at www.globeandmail.com/nationalphilanthropyday.
|CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY: EVERY DONATION CRITICAL TO FIGHT AGAINST CANCER
Cancer changes everything – unless we change cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society started out 75 years ago as a grassroots organization, raising awareness with daffodil teas and mobile information services. Today, thanks to their donors' support, the Society is changing cancer by funding the best cancer researchers, advocating for healthy policies and providing support and information to millions of Canadians.
Are we making progress against cancer? In the 1940s, a Canadian diagnosed with cancer had an overall survival rate of only about 25 per cent. Today, those odds have increased to more than 60 per cent. "That progress has largely been made because of research, and that's the way we are going to beat this disease," says Dr. Christine Williams, the Society's vice-president of research.
In 2012, the Society directed $132 million towards its mission; one-third of it went to research and the balance to programs and advocacy. Currently, the Society funds 310 research programs in 50 institutions across Canada. Among them are Innovation Grants – a funding platform designed to support unique, creative research ideas.
"My survival didn't happen in a vacuum; it happened because of the cancer research that developed these treatments – and because there was money to pay for that research." Tammy Horvath
One such project, headed by cardiologist Dr. Geoffrey Pickering of London, Ont., is turning a traditional area of cancer research on its head by investigating the idea of increasing blood supply to tumours to "overfeed them," rather than the usual approach of starving them by cutting off their blood supply. This and other innovative projects have huge potential.
Tammy Horvath knows first-hand how research benefits patients. She was diagnosed with stage four uterine cancer at the age of 34 and given just two weeks to live. "I wasn't afraid to die, but I couldn't accept leaving my children," says Ms. Horvath, whose sons were just one and five years old at the time. A decade later, she credits the extensive surgery she had, as well as an aggressive chemotherapy and radiation regimen, with saving her life. "My survival didn't happen in a vacuum; it happened because of the cancer research that developed these treatments – and because there was money to pay for that research."
"We fund the best research in the country," says the Society's Dr. Williams. "Our peer-review process for choosing which projects to fund is considered the gold standard."
Donations and volunteer efforts drive everything the Society does, says Dr. Williams. "By donating to research, our donors are making a collective investment. We really are the people's charity."