• Jeff Sproul

Moving to a New Philanthropy

Updated: May 17


The landscape of the charitable giving environment is changing. Northland Wealth reached out to Denise Castonguay of Canada Gives to help understand what is driving the increased focus on Donor Advised Funds and when families are planning their charitable giving. Here is what she shared with us.

Charitable giving is personal, and all of it is worthwhile. But there is definitely a change in the hearts and minds of many major donors, who now want their charitable gifts to be well invested, not just well spent.

“Always extend more kindness than you need to, because the person you are extending it to needs it more than you will ever know.” General Colin Powell

When Canada Gives was first introduced to a family foundation which wanted to partner with the firm to do their work in Africa, their Executive Director made it clear that the family did not want to simply “write a cheque” with their charitable funding – they wanted assurance that their considerable contributions were being spent properly and that they were making a real improvement in these communities. In other words, they were looking for accountability and a way to measure the impact they were making.

More recently we met with an entrepreneur who is also a dynamic new philanthropist, dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls around the world. She is currently focused on building health facilities in developing countries using a social franchising model similar to how business franchises operate, linking profit with sustainable improvement. Bill Gates would agree with her approach. He gave a much admired speech at the World Economic Forum several years ago, claiming that the world’s biggest problems cannot be fixed by philanthropy, but instead require free-market capitalism – “creative capitalism” – to solve. According to Gates, creative capitalism is “an approach where governments, businesses and nonprofits work together to stretch the reach of the market so that more people can make a profit, or gain recognition, doing work that eases the world’s inequities.”

The CFO of Canada Gives had worked in international development for over 25 years prior to joining the organization, was completely surprised at the attitudes and approach these business-like donors are taking with their charitable giving. They want to be more involved, better informed and really participate in the projects, from planning to implementation. A name on the wall is not their primary objective or source of satisfaction. Often, they want to contribute their expertise as well as their funding.

Most charities are not yet fully aware or aligned with this type of donor perspective and level of commitment; but as we see the connection being made, the outcomes are worth going through the learning curve.

Denise Castonguay is the Founder & CEO of Canada Gives, a foundation of foundations. Canada Gives sets up and administers over 50 family foundations, helping donors make their legacy count in Canada and overseas.

Northland Wealth in the creation of its Donor Advised Fund - The Northland Wealth Foundation - is pleased to partner with Canada Gives in order to offer a simple yet efficient method of meeting your family’s philanthropic plans.

If you would like to speak about your philanthropic plans and how we may form all or part of the solution, please reach out to us and we would be happy to discuss this with you.


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