Campfire Desert
Campfire Desert

As you may know and remember, adolescence is about self-discovery and developing self-identity. We are right at the thick of it. For that reason, we asked Robert Conconi to share what the past 15 years have been like and what do we have to look forward to when it comes to the future work of the Foundation. And because it’s impossible to put 15 years into a short written form, we’ll share with you some letters from Bob.

Part 1: Clarity

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had an enjoyable holiday. Diane and I spent the holiday together with our family and also had some quiet reflection time. And now, I can share more about our journey into Foundation Land.

I mentioned in my first letter, that we started small and informal without a clear path forward just our intention to give back. What Diane and I quickly realized is that good intention only get you so far. Without clarity and a plan, your impact gets diluted, at least we felt that we could do better.

Perhaps ironically, we realized that in order to have a deeper impact with our Foundation we needed to go back to the basic building blocks and set up a strong foundation. What does that mean? Well, we needed to understand our values, our vision and narrow down our focus. We also needed to have a person dedicated to this work full time. We alone did not have the capacity or the expertise or time to learn how to move it forward. However, my years of building companies have thought me you need to have good people, clear vision and a plan for execution.

The biggest shift for us was when we hired Sanja, our Executive Director. She worked with our family to understand what those building blocks are and build a solid foundation. Having a dedicated person to this work made a world of difference. It meant we could do more. From then on, we were able to set a roadmap and start executing. The second big shift was realizing that we cannot be everything to everyone. This resulted in four significant changes to the way in which we do things:
1) we stopped having an open call for applications and taking unsolicited requests
2) we decided to focus on three primary areas: healthcare, education and social services
3) we limited our funding to our Province
4) we limited the number of organizations we grant to in a given year (fewer with larger dollar allocations)

All of what I just shared may seem self-evident to you reading today, but it was not so to us at the time. These shifts allowed us to know when to say YES or NO or NO for now. They helped us focus on what is important and stay true to what we believe in and what we set out to do. Most importantly the shift to clarity allowed us to focus on RELATIONSHIPS. Philanthropy is about people and relationships, and in my next letter, I will explore this topic further.

Goodbye for now.

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