For many of you in the movement, 2017 was a big year full of ambitious and inspiring projects, tied to unprecedented levels of activity through the 150 Fund. It has been amazing to witness such impactful work unfold in communities coast to coast to coast. The road ahead in 2018 is about renewing, deepening and building on our existing efforts and ensuring that our next steps address our current realities but ensure we evolve and grow in the context of 21st century philanthropy. 2018 is already proving to be equally full of promise and potential here at the Community Foundations of Canada and in the movement. Read on to learn about some of the initiatives underway for the weeks and months ahead!
Local leadership, a global impact
Coming out of the first ever North American Community Foundations Summit in Mexico City in January 2018, we are better positioned to understand how the challenges faced by communities here in Canada are being met in different parts of the world. Local leadership can learn practical lessons from international counterparts and have real community impact in areas such as reconciliation, environmental stewardship and poverty reduction.
A unifying framework
Using the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we are looking to continue to foster international exchange and collaboration that leads to local solutions. The SDGs, to that end, are an increasingly important lens through which we envision much of our future work.
The Alliance 150 will pivot this spring to become the Alliance 2030 — and we will be introducing a new digital platform to amplify the outstanding work that is already happening throughout our movement, and to facilitate connections and collaborations between community foundations, partners and others in the sector and beyond.
Our three-year study of belonging across Canada and its communities revealed many trends in our shifting demographics, and how we might tackle these challenges and opportunities. In 2017 for example, many communities took their first steps in a journey towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and this year, we hope to further these efforts. In 2018, the theme of belonging will remain a core focus for Vital Signs, and we will continue to promote the great work being done by foundations across the country to assess issues within their communities and to measure their impact.
New data tools
Data is a key part of knowledge mobilization, sharing the stories of our work and our impact. We are delighted to report that we have begun to implement a new data strategy to improve how we collect, curate and share data. This new system, developed in partnership with Grantbook, will improve our ability to visualize the growth, development and the impact of our movement in Canada and abroad. This will give you and community foundations across the country easy access to a wide range of indicators and current statistics that can be woven into your work, such as communications with current and future donors. We look forward to sharing that with you in the coming months.
Development opportunities on impact investing and new resources through the Learning Institute
We will also continue to promote engagement with impact investing and support foundations looking to animate their own responsible investment plans. There is enormous potential for impact investing, and we aim to organize some in-person opportunities for learning and networking.
The Learning Institute is another area we are actively developing with a view to bolstering our support for the movement. In the spring of 2018, watch for the launch of a series of robust new learning resources designed specifically for community foundations on topics such as rural philanthropy, reconciliation and donor development tools. We will also continue to leverage our network to support initiatives such as the new healthcare plan, which we now have available for all our members.
Exploring public policy
Public policy, government practices, and legal frameworks all play an active role in shaping the realities in our communities and provide another opportunity for growth in our movement. As local leaders, conveners, grantmakers and relationship-builders, community foundations are uniquely positioned to shape these systems, and Community Foundations of Canada is actively exploring the ways to support community foundation leadership in public policy and advocacy. We are working alongside a group of community foundations to inform the path forward, and have partnered with the Ontario Non-Profit Network to make the Non-Profits Driving Public Policy webinar series available to interested board members and staff.
Already, the work we are doing today is reflecting the priorities of tomorrow: representatives from 11 different foundations have already participated in the consultation process for preparing our next national conference, coming up in June 2019 in Victoria, B.C. We will share more with you as new information becomes available, and we look forward to seeing everyone again!
As we take on the next year’s work, we are optimistic and hopeful in building on all of our collective learnings and achievements and taking them to new heights. Thank you for your continued leadership, support and dedication. We look forward to the year ahead and to working with and alongside you.