Community Building at a time of Social Distancing

Dear Community Foundation Fundholders, Agencies, Charity Partners and Volunteers

Like many of us I find myself in a different situation than I thought I would be earlier this week. I was looking forward to a week of skiing during spring break with my family and friends. Now like other businesses and organizations, we are focused on business continuity and the health and safety of our staff and volunteers at the time of a pandemic. 

I want to take the time to share our business continuity and health and safety plans, but it will also share thoughts on community building at this time of “social distancing.” I have personally received a lot of electronic communications about  “social distancing” as a public health strategy. So if you are not familiar I will encourage you to visit the Public Health Agency of Canada discussion of community protection measures.

I have also been reflecting on The Foundation’s focus to “Build Community through Philanthropy” and what that means for us when public health is advising “social distancing.” These concepts are juxtaposed however we are determined to find ways to connect the community and at the same time meet these public health guidelines. 

With this in mind, our plans will be to:

  1. Ensure that charities continue to receive grant cheques or agency distributions so the most vulnerable in our community are not more severely impacted.  

The Foundation will remain operational and there will be a skeleton staff to ensure that grant cheques can be processed and charities continue to receive funding. We are going to be flexible on the timing of any grant report backs as well. For the most part, staff will be able to work from home and those that attend our offices will be asked to follow guidelines regarding personal and household travel, household illnesses, and personal health for everyone’s protection. 

Fundholders, please utilize the portal to make granting requests as community needs will continue and may be exacerbated because of the growth of self-isolation and closures. Phone messages will be answered, but may not be as timely as when it is ‘business as usual.’

If you’ve not already issued your grants this year, consider the impact this is having on our charities, and consider granting sooner. 

  1. Increase connections while reducing face-to-face meetings

The Foundation and its staff will not host or attend any in-person events or meetings, or travel for business during this pandemic. All Board, Committee and Stakeholder meetings will be replaced with teleconferences or web based technology where applicable. We are currently exploring virtual options for our Annual General Meeting in the event that this situation persists. 

The Foundation staff will be reaching out through phone calls and emails to check in with our Fundholders, agencies and charities to see how everyone is faring. We want to reduce the potential for social isolation in our family of fundholders as well as understand what is happening with our front line charities.

        3. Share Knowledge from our Charities 

Similar to our role in Vital reports, we will be sharing knowledge from our charities about what is happening in our community as the school, postsecondary and workplace closures continue. We will be sharing our knowledge with you through our communications channels and if need be, we will put a call out for support.

Fundholders may recall that Halton Environmental Network (HEN) and Faith and the Common Good was one of the original BeCause Oakville funding recipients in 2018 with their Oakville Ready project. This project  has built an emergency readiness hub with a number of faith based sites. In discussion with Lisa Kohler at HEN, she has advised that Oakville Ready is preparing virtual activities to support our community at this time. We will share more information as it becomes available.

One thing I discourage is to become overly fixated on the markets at the moment. Remember, we are just coming off our best returns in a decade at 16.7% so fundholders have a lot of granting and reserve capacity available. We will provide market updates as is our normal practice and will be lining up an investment update in June (which may be webcast if necessary. 

Thank you to everyone who has provided their support to our Foundation and our community. We are only able to provide our support locally because our community has made us strong and resilient. 

I am sending big virtual hugs across the community.

Wendy Rinella, CEO