May 17, 2018
From the President

Connect. Create. Change

By Hilary Pearson

This year’s annual conference of PFC will take place in Toronto in mid-October.  We are launching our conference program, and excited about registration now being open!

Our theme this year is Connect. Create. Change. All words chosen very deliberately. They capture the opportunities offered by the conference. In this post I want to highlight both our goals and the content of the program that we are designing for this key event.

Our goals are built on what we believe is most important to our members and to many other grantmakers in Canada. PFC’s objective as an association is to help make connections, to inspire funders to be more effective, and, in doing so, to help create change that is positive for Canadians. The conference is all about connecting funders with each other, to learn and hopefully to create together. The connection and creation lead directly to change: change in how funders themselves think about their own strategies and practices, or in how to shape the relationships with partners and communities where funders work. We are setting the table in Toronto for these opportunities for funders to connect….create….and change.

We know that the best discussions at a conference probably take place in the hallways and at the tables where you meet informally. But we also know that inspiration is important, and our program must deliver that inspiration. This year the conference plenaries are going to present you with challenging questions, coming from speakers who have different perspectives than the mainstream views of Canadian foundation leaders.

The conference will feature six plenaries, more than we have offered in the past. We want them to be opportunities for very active listening and engagement with the audience. All of them will be followed by a chance to pursue conversations on the questions that they raise in more intimate breakout sessions, in most cases with the speakers at the tables.  There will be plenty of breakout sessions too, led by funders who are doing innovative work across many fields and who will be sharing their experience and learning with us.

So here are some of the questions we will be asking in the conference plenaries:

  • Not all philanthropic innovation comes from “south of the border”. Can the experiences of “old world” philanthropy on the European continent inspire and inform our “new world” thinking about the purpose and work of philanthropy?
  • How do we know what we know? Are we collecting wisely and thinking smartly about the evidence we need to inform our decisions and assess what we and our partners are achieving?
  • A new set of voices and ideas are emerging from young people who want to engage in social impact philanthropy. How do we reach out and engage with the next generation around social impact?
  • The federal government has put gender and gender equality at the forefront of its policy agenda, applying a gender lens to its decision-making. Should we consider how this affects philanthropy? What difference would using a gender lens make to our funding decisions? And to our own practices?
  • How do we think about philanthropy and power? Power to get things done, to change policy, to mobilize action? Or power to build networks, connections and leaders who will make change happen? Is it our power or is it the power of others that we seek to strengthen through philanthropic action? How can we use the new forms of power presented by the digital platforms and media that we have access to today?
  • What gives philanthropy its “social license to operate”? To what degree is private philanthropy publicly accountable? How important is trust to philanthropic “success”? and how is that success defined?

Many questions, many opportunities for argument and agreement. Toronto in October 2018 is where we want you to gather for connection, creation and even…change!

Registration for the conference is now open. Take advantage of early bird rates by registering now.

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