Wednesday, November 2

Deep Dive Roundtables A

A New Theory of Philanthropy for Social Change: The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative

Why is a theory of philanthropy helpful to a foundation? The Palix Foundation of Alberta has been focused on treatment of addiction and mental health issues since 2005. Over time, it has evolved a new theory of philanthropy to support its efforts to bring about systems change and longer term impact. In this roundtable, Palix leaders will share their theory, focused on the foundation’s main program called the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI),and explain how it has helped them focus their work even more powerfully. Learn more about AFWI on their website: and learn more about their Theory of Philanthropy through the documents listed below.

AquaHacking: Using Technology to Influence Environmental Policy

How can we make social innovation emerge? How can we influence public policy? How can we ensure sustainable social change? The AquaHacking model answers these three questions, by illustrating how a new, technology-based approach can address major water policy issues. The De Gaspé Beaubien Foundation sponsored the first and second edition of “Aquahacking” to address water conservation for both the Ottawa and the St-Lawrence Rivers. This brought together decision-makers, field players, citizens and experts on the same platform –and resulted in a management agreement for the Ottawa River between the Provinces of Québec and Ontario. In addition we are currently working on our 3rd edition of AquaHacking, an international collaboration with major cities such as, Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago and Toronto with a focus on Lake Erie. In this roundtable, the Foundation will share the model and how it can be used in other areas to support behavioral and policy change.

Fostering Social Harmony: How a small foundation is using collaboration for impact

The Brian Bronfman Family Foundation (BBFF) has been working since 2009 to develop a place in philanthropy for “peace.” For BBFF, peace centres on healthy relationships, violence prevention, the embracing of diversity, and effective conflict resolution. BBFF was the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Grantmakers Network (PGN), whose goal is to “foster social harmony.”  Join Brian Bronfman, President of BBFF and PGN, to learn about the challenges of creating and defining a new area of philanthropy, the means of generating buy-in from the philanthropic, private, and public sectors , and collaboration-based actions to maximize  real-world impact.

Foundations, Media and Public Interest Journalism

Given the changing landscape for media in Canada, with an evolution in the business of traditional media and rapid development of alternative media, how can foundations help strengthen the connection between media and democracy? What are opportunities for foundation-supported public interest journalism around activities and issues, such as reconciliation, that can reshape our national narrative in positive ways? And how can foundations get access to the information and ideas that they need themselves to engage successfully in public debates?

Partnering for Health: Medavie Health Foundation and Live Well!

How can cross-sectoral collaboration foster major changes in how we manage chronic diseases? In 2012, the Medavie Health Foundationpartnered with the Canadian Diabetes Association and the New Brunswick Department of Health to launch a community-based program, Live Well! Bien Vivre!, This program supports the prevention and self-management of chronic diseases with a particular focus on type 2 diabetes. Medavie will share its experience as a corporate funder working cross-sectorally to improve health self-management.

The following are some resources to help you learn more about this project:
Living Healthy with Live Well: Kim’s Story 

Coaching Helps People with Type 2 Diabetes Live Better, Globe and Mail, November 2013

Shared Platforms: The Tides Canada Model

Join this roundtable to learn how Tides Canada has used a shared platform to provide an incubator and accelerator for national and neighbourhood scale initiatives. The shared platform provides infrastructure, operational, and strategic supports to different environmental and social justice projects across Canada such as Canadian Freshwater Alliance, East Scarborough Storefront, and the BC Food Systems Network. Tides Canada has been operating this model since 2002. Now it is exploring the future of platforms and how the model might be leveraged to significantly increase public involvement in the charitable sector.

Social Innovation: What is It, Where is It?

This roundtable will be an opportunity to take a look with fresh eyes at the topic of social innovation, which is much discussed in philanthropy but mostly divorced from innovation in the broader economy. The Lupina Foundation of Toronto will share what has been learned from an exploration with university partners of a new Theory of Social Innovation and from ongoing research with other Canadian foundations who are using theories of innovation in their projects and practices.

Deep Dive Roundtables B

Foundation House: Placemaking as a platform for collaboration

It has been said that foundations are the first to foist collaboration on their grant recipients and the last to collaborate among themselves. Foundation House turns that idea on its head by creating a shared office environment deliberately designed to share ideas and foster collaboration. Launched in early 2016, Foundation House in Toronto is the co-creation of The Counselling Foundation of CanadaLaidlaw Foundation and The Lawson Foundation. In creating the space, the foundations were intentional about including other major sector-based networks. The co-creators of Foundation House will share their goals and lessons learned so far in pursuing this collaborative experiment.

Foundations Partnering for Reconciliation

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made its final report in June 2015, a group of foundations and Indigenous voices came together to co-create and sign The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action, pledging themselves to action on Reconciliation with Indigenous communities. Over the past year, many foundations and corporations have increased their activities in support of Reconciliation, and many are looking to do more, both as individual organizations and in collaboration with others.  To further the dialogue, The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, together with the Inspirit Foundation, organized a gathering of foundations and Indigenous leaders in Toronto in June 2016 to share ideas on moving forward. Join us for a conversation about this ongoing process which is engaging more foundations across the country in dialogue with Indigenous peoples.

Foundations, Social Innovation & Peer Learning

Increasingly foundations are using social innovation to shape high impact philanthropic programs. Can peer groups accelerate the process of learning about innovation? The Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), a United Kingdom-based network, is an example of a peer group of global funders, including Canadian foundations, who are learning from each other and their partners about social innovation, looking at areas such as system change, scaling impact and ecosystem building. This session will share insights from SIX’s activities and from examples of peer-to-peer learning models.

Sustainable Food Systems: Two Cases from Western Canada

How do you create progressive change in systems as basic to communities as food production and consumption? The Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia has joined with other funders to establish Nourish BC,  and to make progressive improvements to local food systems. To better serve Northern Manitoba communities that are working to advance food security and cultural reclamation, a dozen funders and five Advisors from the region have come together to create a pooled fund and shared learning opportunities as the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture & Community Collaborative. Join us in this roundtable to hear about tangible examples of collaborative work by funders to create strong local economies and livelihoods, protect the environment and ensure access to good food for everyone.

Transforming a Foundation: The Legacy of Leon and Thea Koerner

What do you do when it’s no longer business as usual? The decade-long transformation of The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation into The Leon and Thea Koerner Award in support of projects which combine arts & culture and social services offers a model for private foundations exploring options beyond “sunset” or “spend down”. As BC’s first foundation established by immigrants after WWII, the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation was transformed after 60 years of grant making. Join us as we share ten “lessons learned” about transformation—from a family foundation to an endowed award—which simultaneously honours the legacy of the founders and responds to a changing philanthropic landscape.


Impact Investing for Philanthropic Foundations: From Education to Action

So you have set a target for impact investing but you are wondering about next steps? Or you want to have an action plan to get you moving in the direction of impact investing? In this interactive workshop, Purpose Capital will guide participants through an impact investment strategy development process, designed specifically for foundations. The session aims to move beyond education – participants will leave the session with a basic framework that can kick start the development of a strategy tailored to their unique needs and priorities. This session is intended for foundations that are actively considering the development of mission-aligned impact investment strategies. Leaders and members of the finance or investment committees within foundations would find this session particularly valuable.

Reconciliation in Action: A Reconciliation Dialogue

Participants will work together on a vision of a vibrant, inclusive Canada where all people achieve their full potential and shared prosperity. Through storytelling and facilitated dialogue, Reconciliation Canada staff leaders will  help us acknowledge our shared Canadian history and speak to current realities for Indigenous peoples in Canada. Participants will work with the workshop leaders to develop individualized action plans for moving forward towards reconciliation within their own organizations.

Strengthening Community Leadership in Canada

Strong organizational leaders are the key to success for many philanthropic strategies, especially so when the strategic goal is making change. Many foundations invest in programs for future, emerging or proven community leaders. But how well do we know whether these programs are developing the leaders we need? This workshop will help you understand the different forms of leadership, including public policy leadership, social entrepreneurship, Indigenous leadership and others. We will explore strengths, vulnerabilities and applications of various leadership approaches, and how we can have a better handle on the impact these programs make (knowing that only between 10% and 20% currently conduct formal evaluations). We will share new tools for program designers, managers and evaluators. You will leave with a rationale for funding leadership, a map of the leadership development landscape and first steps in a plan for investing in systems leaders as part of your overall strategy.

As context, we will provide you with highlights of recent research undertaken by the Institute for Community Prosperity, in partnership with the Pathy Family Foundation and The Calgary Foundation, looking at how organizations and programs in Canada are supporting leadership development for social change.  We will also provide information on related research conducted for MaRS Studio Y, as a baseline of understanding for the National Summit on Youth Leadership and Innovation. This research developed an inventory of programs from coast to coast to coast, interviewed though leaders, surveyed program alumni and reviewed literature connecting personal development with community development.

Using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a Framework for Strategy

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by over 190 countries in 2015 as a framework to structure the work of every country towards a more equitable and sustainable world. Each of the 17 goals has an associated set of specific targets to aim for over the next 15 years to 2030. In this way, the SDGs constitute a unified global development agenda.

The SDGs are goals that fit squarely with the goals of philanthropic funders. For this reason, and because they offer an opportunity for local to national, and indeed, global alignment of efforts, foundations and charitable funders have a compelling reason to learn about them, to re-assess their own goals, and potentially to re-align strategies for more impact and leverage. At a minimum it is valuable to familiarize yourself with the indicators of change associated with progress towards each goal.

This workshop is designed to give you this opportunity to learn more about the way in which the targets set within each of the SDGs can be relevant to your day to day work in philanthropy. You will be work through how to adapt the SDG framework to the work of your foundation and leave with a plan for how to re-assess your strategies and set your targets and indicators of progress with the SDG framework in mind. This gives you a unique chance to communicate how your local efforts contribute to equity and sustainability change at the national and global level.

Visit the Council on Foundations’s website to learn more about Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Read Mobilizing Canadian leadership on global sustainable development on the Policy Options website.

Thursday, November 3

Breakfast Plenary – Big Issues, Many Questions

Foundations face big issues and vexing questions as they work in complex environments on the toughest challenges. Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) President Phil Buchanan will lay out the big issues and suggest paths forward for foundations grappling with questions such as: How do we devise effective strategies?; How do we support grantees most effectively?; Should we use the endowment to pursue programmatic goals or to maximize returns?; and, How do we effectively align our actions with those of other funders? He will draw on research and his experience working with foundations in North America and around the world for the past 15 years.

Panel Sessions A

Building Sustainable Cities

Today more than 80 percent of Canadians live in urban areas. Cities are where the greatest engines of economic growth and innovation are located in Canada, as well as the greatest concentrations of unsustainable resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are where the greatest efficiencies in resource use can be achieved and where the widest range of solutions to climate change are possible by altering the way urban Canadians live, work and play. In this panel, we will explore the perspectives of three Vancouver-based thought leaders who target cities as driving forces for change in building sustainability and addressing climate change. Ross Beaty is a globally recognized business leader and the Chair of Sitka Foundation. Ross will provide a business and philanthropic perspective of how to advance climate change through transforming business and investment towards the green economy. Michael Small is the Executive Director of Renewable Cities, a program of the SFU Centre of Dialogue dedicated to supporting cities in making ambitious transitions to renewable energy. Renewable Cities draws on the international leadership of Vancouver in the global movement towards 100% renewable energy. Janet Moore is the Co-Founder of CityStudio. CityStudio, a unique collaboration among six post-secondary institutions,  is an experimentation and innovation hub for the City of Vancouver where staff, students and community members design and launch projects on the ground.

Learn about North American Dialogue: 100% Renewable Energy in Cities, a three-day dialogue from July 10-12, 2016 in San Francisco that Renewable Cities helped to convene.

Funder Collaboratives: Partnering With Indigenous Communities

Tides Canada is actively engaged in a number of funder collaboratives, helping grantmakers, industry and government to pool or align resources and share ideas. This approach, applied in Indigenous communities, has given community-led initiatives a better chance to succeed by providing financial and administrative support as well as opportunities for shared learning and evaluation. Come to this session to learn from Tides and collaborators about current collaborative initiatives that are having a direct impact in Indigenous communities across Canada, such as:

Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Fund – working to help communities design local solution-oriented projects that address regional issues of poverty, food insecurity, and related health issues.

Ontario Indigenous Youth Partnership Project (OIYPP) – supporting Indigenous youth to engage in their communities through projects that promote environmental, social, spiritual & physical well-being.

Northwest Territories On-The-Land Collaborative Fund – A pooled fund created by government, industry, and philanthropic partners to better serve communities delivering on the land community wellness and environmental stewardship programming

What’s New in the World of Charity Regulation?

Join us for a discussion of developments and updates in federal charity tax and regulation with the Director General of the Charities Directorate at Canada Revenue Agency, and two leading Canadian charity lawyers. This session will offer opportunity for discussion and question on such topics as foundations and political activities, handling CRA reporting requirements, and possible options for strengthening and modernizing the regulatory framework for charities and foundations.

Panel Sessions B

Exploring the Next Chapter: To Spend Down, Or Not?

More foundations today are asking themselves the question: should we consider an alternative to the typical foundation endowed for perpetuity?  Should we be considering more time-limited philanthropic option? In this session you will hear stories from foundations who have taken a different route as part of their philanthropic journeys. This session will address key questions:

  • How do a foundation’s values guide decision-making as they consider their next chapter?
  • What were the most important challenges in phasing out of grant making?
  • Creating a legacy—what are new opportunities?

You can learn more about Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and their spend down strategy via the various resources and blog series available on their website.

Additionally, Grantcraft has a number of helpful resources on their website.

Small Foundations, Outsized Impact

Why do some small foundations have such big impact? Is it solely the result of the vision and charisma of the individuals involved or are there common practices, approaches and philosophies which other foundations can adopt? And how can we truly understand these practices and approaches, moving beyond general statements about the importance of “partnership” and “leadership” to a deeper knowledge of the structures and methods which foster maximum impact?

These questions intrigued the three partners behind this session: Burns Memorial FundMindset Social Innovation Foundation and Philanthropic Foundations Canada. The partners came together to commission a small and informal research project, exploring the topic through focused interviews with three small foundations working towards large goals. Our results are not definitive but we hope they will spark a larger conversation about impact.  In this session, we will discuss what we discovered and dig deeper with the three participating foundations.

Read Elizabeth Dozois’s blog post on the PFC website about this research and read the report.

Learn more about our 3 participating foundations – Graham Boeckh FoundationFondation Dufresne et Gauthier, and Toskan Casale Foundation/Youth and Philanthropy Initiative 

The Systems Change Reframe: Implications for Strategy, Evaluation and Learning

While funders are increasingly aiming at “systems change” to address the roots of problems, what does this really mean, and what new demands does this place on funders, grantees, and other partners? This session will share ways in which foundations can adapt their own systems and cultures around the work of systems change, and how funders learn about the right questions to ask. The three panelists, all experts or practitioners in the art of systems change evaluation or learning, will also discuss how to think about the evolving relationships between funders and their partners in change-making and how to build partner capacity to participate more effectively in these relationships.