The how and why of giving
When Exchange magazine asked leaders in the not for profit and charitable community to suggest themes that were most important to them, the simple concepts of “how” and “why” people give came up, again and again. As we did our research and interviews for this edition of the magazine, we found dozens of individual examples that offer unique answers to those questions. For instance:
Ted Livingston, a graduate of University of Waterloo, founded Kik – recently described as Canada’s only current “unicorn”, the description of a private company worth more than $1 billion. Livingston donated $1 million to the University of Waterloo, selling personal shares in his company to raise the funds for the donation, which is creating a venture fund for start-ups in VeloCity, where he actually got his start.Livingston explained his rationale for the gift: “With few responsibilities and surrounded by other talented minds, UW students are uniquely positioned to start world-changing companies. Unfortunately, few investors are willing to bet on young entrepreneurs, especially in Canada, so getting the start-up funds they need is a huge challenge. This fund is a step towards changing that.”
In February 2018, retired businessman, volunteer and philanthropist Bob Cunningham announced a $1 million gift to the WeCareCMH Campaign. Bob has been a volunteer at the Hospital and Foundation for over 15 years and believes that “if everyone volunteered a little, and gave a little” that the very best in a community hospital will be there when we need it most.
Last November, a University of Waterloo alumnus who is a successful venture capitalist and part owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors has donated $25 million towards Engineering 7, the University’s newest building. The donation was made by Chamath Palihapitiya, a 1999 Waterloo electrical engineering graduate and the founder and CEO of Social Capital, a Silicon Valley company that specializes in technology startups, providing seed funding, venture capital and private equity. “Waterloo Engineering provided me with a truly unique education,” said Palihapitiya, who was an original member of Facebook’s senior management team. “I can link my success in life to the skills and perspective I gained in my time at Waterloo. The next generation of thinkers, leaders and doers will come from Waterloo, and I am happy to help with this journey.”
It’s not surprising that Mike Lazaridis takes a very practical approach to his considerable philanthropic efforts. In our story in this edition about Lazaridis, he explains: “Our mission for Quantum Valley was to not only build state of the art Canadian labs, with world class researchers, that can develop new and transformative quantum technologies, but to also help establish and grow exciting new Canadian businesses that will take these technologies to global markets. Our success over the past 20 years, and our traction in the commercial markets in recent years, demonstrate that this is beginning to happen.”
But he adds, “To me it’s all about people. Attract and retain the most promising people and enable their success, and big things will happen.”
In March 2019, CIBC pledged $200,000 over four years to Wilfrid Laurier University, providing outstanding learning opportunities for students in the university’s Lazaridis School of Business & Economics. Half of the funds will support new scholarships for women studying finance. With the other portion, CIBC becomes title sponsor of the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics’ innovative immersive learning vehicle, the Integrated Case Exercise. “CIBC is proud to support women in finance and help develop young talent,” said Sam Alfieri, district vice–president of CIBC. “We have a long-standing relationship with Wilfrid Laurier University and are happy to help support educational institutions and provide opportunities for career success.”
In 2018, Wilmot township received a donation of $1,000,000 to be used towards trail development within the community. Lifelong resident, developer Mike Schout, presented Council with the first of two donations of $500,000 – the second donation coming in 2019. Schout explained, “My heritage is Dutch and I spent three weeks living with relatives in a small town in Holland in the early ‘90s while celebrating my aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary. I was amazed at the trail system throughout the entire town and countryside and impressed by how many people were using them. They even had exclusive trail tunnels under major streets and train tracks.”
In April 2019, the University of Guelph received a $21 million donation to boost its business faculty. This, the largest single donation in the history of the University of Guelph, paves the way for new student scholarships and travel grants, academic chairs and expanded programming. The $21-million gift to the university comes from former Canadian football wide receiver and retired executive Stu Lang and his wife, Kim, in honour of Lang’s late father, Gordon.
As part of their RBC Future Launch program, RBC is donating $60,000 over a three-year period to THEMUSEUM to support the Annual Alternative Conference. RBC Future launch is an initiative that invests in helping young people gain access and opportunity to the skills, job experience and career networks. “RBC Future Launch is our commitment of $500 million over the next 10 years to empower Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow. We are dedicating our knowledge, skills and resources to help young people access meaningful employment through work experience, skills development and networking,” said Massimo Iacurti, RBC Regional Vice President, Kitchener Waterloo Perth.
Last October, KPMG announced renewed support for the accounting area at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business & Economics, with a $250,000 donation. “Years before they choose their professions, our future leaders depend on the process of self-discovery and learning that academic programs like Laurier’s Lazaridis School provide,” said Mary Jo Fedy, managing partner, KPMG LLP Waterloo office. “That’s why KPMG Foundation supports undergraduate and graduate business programs. Our firm's contribution is just one way we can help inspire young people to develop to their full potential.”
The Graham Munro Charitable Foundation announced a donation of $500,000 to Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics. “The field of supply chain management is changing at a rapid pace and requires fresh talent, innovation and a competitive edge to keep the economy growing,” said Doug Munro, president, Maritime-Ontario Freight Lines Limited. “Partnering with Laurier to provide students with the best education for career success is a win-win for everyone. We are excited to help students break into their professions with their best foot forward and invigorate industry with the sharpest and best-trained minds.”
For the third consecutive year, Kindred Credit Union donated $10,000 to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to support efforts to end hunger around the world. “We very much appreciate the financial support provided to local growing projects for crop inputs. This allows volunteers to forward more dollars to help the hungry in food insecure locations,” says David Epp, Ontario Regional Coordinator for the Foodgrains Bank.
THEMUSEUM is acquiring the neighbouring Bank of Montreal building at 2 King Street West, Kitchener. “We’re thrilled to announce this sole purchaser agreement with THEMUSEUM and be a part of this important campaign to help bolster the burgeoning arts and culture community of this growing region,” said Julie Barker-Merz, Senior Vice President, South Western Ontario Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “And to further assist, BMO has pledged a $1,000,000 donation to help transform downtown Kitchener’s cultural connection to the community and be a catalyst for renewal of arts and culture in the heart of the city.”
During a special event held in February, a culinary skills lab at Conestoga College was named in recognition of Flanagan Foodservice for its generous support of the recent expansion and re-development project at the John W. Tibbits campus in Waterloo. More recently, Flanagan provided a donation to support the expansion of the Waterloo campus. “The impact of this organization on our community and on our family is significant,” said Dan Flanagan, Flanagan Foodservice CEO. “On behalf of our employees, and our family, we are grateful for the opportunity to be part of this transformative journey at Conestoga.”
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