CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY // PHILANTHROPY
MEASURING THE IMPACT OF CONTRIBUTIONS BY DANYAEL HALPRIN
Buddhist monk once said it’s not enough to have good intentions; they must also be wise ones.
Which means in this context that it’s not good enough to just throw money at a cause to feel altruistic. The act of philanthropy continues to evolve as businesses and nonprofits reflect on how to create maximum impact in order to holistically address the complex social issues in Calgary. Impact is ever so the buzzword in the world of philanthropy. The definition is broad, ranging from attending to immediate needs to eradicating systemic issues. Goodwill is indeed benevolent, and it’s easy; but creating impact, actually pushing the needle on an issue, is difficult. Calgary’s Gena Rotstein maintains that philanthropy should be a discerning, long-term investment resulting in significant, positive societal change. “I’m not discounting giving, but if money was the solution we’d have solved the challenges a long time ago,” says Rotstein, a philanthropy adviser with 20 years of experience. “We just keep throwing good money into a system without trying to solve the underlying issues.”
DECEMBER 2018 // BUSINESS IN CALGARY // BUSINESSINCALGARY.COM
Businesses leaders who strive to be strategic philanthropists must take the time to understand the issues in their community, she says, and determine how they’ll measure the impact of their contribution. Like an investor, they need to do their due diligence of the appropriate organizations and choose one that provides an effective solution. It is then important to evaluate over a timeline whether the philanthropy has shifted the issue in that demographic for that specific organization. “Impact is part of a continuum of care,” says Rotstein, co-founder of Karma & Cents, which supports family foundations and family enterprises in attaining their social and legacy objectives. Calgary’s United Way sees itself as a social impact organization that mobilizes corporate Calgary, government and volunteers to improve lives. It highly values stewarding resources and leveraging investments effectively and then measuring the return on those investments. It’s annual impact report details all of its work and it also produces an annual impact report for each business measuring how United Way invested its donation.