The summer months have been busy managing the Place2Give Foundation Southern Alberta Emergency Relief Fund. We have been hearing back from many of the agencies that have received donations from the Fund and wanted to share some of the feedback.
I wasn’t satisfied with the answer I received from the Red Cross as to how they spent $5.5MM in Alberta on flood relief efforts. So I asked the question again, but more pointedly. I want to know the answer not only for accountability purposes; I want to know because Place2Give Foundation has $1MM (some of which is undesignated) that we are in the process of disbursing to grassroots organizations and we want to make sure that we are stewarding our donors dollars effectively.
There have been several questions asked of me lately about how the Red Cross will be using donations raised for the #ABFlood. I have been having a Twitter conversation with @KarenSnider in the hopes of getting some clarity around things. This conversation started because there was conflicting information being shared on the website and in the media.
Here are the questions that I have asked Karen who works for Red Cross:
Guest Blogger: Jennifer Kohlhammer - is a communications specialist and passionate storyteller. Her background in communications studies combined with her love of people and belief in the power of story have allowed her many incredible experiences working in social development and human capacity building around the world. Jennifer is a Calgary-based communications consultant and the Communications Director for Bridges Social Development.
June 28, 2013
Just one week after Southern Alberta’s historic ‘hundred year flood’, the people of Siksika Nation, located Southeast of Calgary, Alberta, remain strong and capable. Siksika was amongst the hard-hit communities during the flood, with 163 homes left underwater, more than 1,000 people evacuated from their homes, and the entire community being affected by water and power loss. And yet, with the support of volunteers from neighbouring communities, Siksika rallied together, working around the clock to ensure the health and safety of their people.
I haven't seen a group of people come together so quickly to help each other our since I was in NYC in 2001. I am in awe and moved by the way people are opening their doors, hearts and wallets to neighbors - friends and strangers alike.
This type of generosity not only reinforces my personal belief in how society should be structured but also how it can actually work. That said, it is important to recognize the business side of the philanthropic equation.
This past week Anderson Cooper reported on AC360 the top 50 worst charities. Let's put this into context - there are in excess of 1.6 Million charities in North America (if you count the non-profits and churches it is well over 3 Million), so 50 bad charities is a rounding error. I am by no means condoning the behaviour, I just want to put the number into context. Charities exist and remain alive because of the generosity of people - donors and volunteers. Unlike traditional market forces, it is very hard to shut down a charity if they are not meeting their mandate because, we as a society, haven't adopted a standard by which to measure succcess. We can point fingers at charities all we want, but at the end of the day, we are the ones who are financing them, so it is up to us to figure out a better way to work within the system, or change it.
In January 2013, Dexterity Consulting began hosting the Social Profit Roundtable Series. Each month, we bring in an expert on a specific area to provide topical information to a group of attendees, which include individuals from local non-profits, social enterprises and the social good world. Topics of discussions have ranged from alternate revenue generation for non-profits, to building effective social media programming, to laying the foundation for board governance, and more.
I have been in Las Vegas for the Advisors in Philanthropy conference. I was presenting on Philanthropy in A Digital Age with my dear friend and mentor, Lori Stewart. The irony isn't lost on me that we are talking about philanthropy and wealth in a city that has been hit hard by the economic downturn and has a tourist culture of excess and consumerism. But is this very thing that is attractive for someone like me who explores complex issues and looks for ways to address the complexities through social enterprise and venture philanthropy.