(October 7, 2021) The Role of Philanthropy in Community Economic Development
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to email@example.com with “transcription” in the subject line.
Jane Hilton [00:00:08] My name’s Jane Hilton, and I’m the VP of strategic objectives, for Shorefast. So I’ve been working on the pilot with the team, with the first team since its inception. So I wanted to just remind us we have a number of stakeholders and a number of groups for the pilot itself. And this is Shorefast’s Community Economics Pilot Founding Forum. So the founding forum is the group of funders who are coming together to make the pilot possible. So those in the room with us today include some of the people in the pilot team, as well as those who are contributing very generously to the pilots. So fifty thousand dollars plus towards making the pilot a possibility. And so you might recall that we committed to convening quarterly. So part of what we’re wanting to do is, of course, keep you updated on what’s happening throughout the pilot. But we’re also wanting to engage you in the ideas and the process and get your feedback. There are a number of people in here. There’s a lot of collective knowledge around community economic development. And so we’re wanting to make sure that as we are going along with our process and sharpening our action plan, that you’re part of that with us. So we’ll update you today or our project manager is going to be sharing an update on the pilot itself and kind of where we’ve taken it to date with our various stakeholder groups. But we consider you very much one of those stakeholder groups and wanting to have you informing our work today with us. The other part that we committed to was just talking through the ideas in terms of leading thinkers in this space. So today we’ve got both zero going to be sharing her own, her own philosophy on philanthropic giving, as well as Andrew Chunilall with the Community Foundations of Canada. And so we want to make sure that today becomes a bit of a dialogue and hoping that you’ll contribute and we’ll be going through a bit of a sort of program. We don’t expect everybody to agree with what is said today. We hope that we’re going to provoke a little bit with some new thinking that’s pushing on on some of the more traditional ways that philanthropy has played a role. But today is really about exploring the role of philanthropy and community economic development. So there’s some inherent tensions in that, and we hope that we’ll kind of call them out and push and pull them together a little bit. So before we jump in, I just want to acknowledge that I’m calling in from Toronto, which is the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa,the Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples and Toronto’s covered by a Treaty 13, which was signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams Treaty, signed with multiple Mississauga and Chippewa bands. So as we’re thinking about our topic today, many institutions are our colonial institutions. They have a history that we need to reckon with. And I think as we’re talking through, we’ll be thinking about issues of power sharing power. And it all kind of has a relevance to what what we’re experiencing as this moment of collective reckoning and with healing and reconciliation. So I’m going to jump in and pass it over to, I’m looking for you on the screen. There you are. So Dor is going to kind of remind us of where we’re at or share with us where we’re at in terms of our process. We’ve gone through some strategic planning for the pilot recently. Some of you have been a part of that. And I just want to set the stage again that this is very much a three pillar approach. So we’re talking communities, government and businesses, and we’re thinking through as we’re as we’re considering our work today, where does philanthropy fit within that framework? So that’ll be part of our discussion. So door, I’m going to turn it over to you.
Dor Assia [00:04:09] Thank you, Jane. I everyone I’ll just walk us through a few slides that give you a bit of an update on where we are with the work, as Jane explained. And just keep in mind the material that I’m hearing right now in the information at the end of the of the session, we’ll have a discussion around some of the priorities that we’ve been that have been emerging, emerging through the work that we’ve been doing. But feel free if you have any questions to drop them in the chat or jump in. It’s all good. So a little bit to cover around the work that we’ve done to date. So really focused on the first three months of the pilot, focused on engagement, data collection and planning, and we had five sessions with the prototype communities and really been building kind of our network and how we work together. In addition to that, we also had some community conversations. So Michelle Baldwin from Community Foundations of Canada and myself met with each of the the community teams or the groups to have a conversation set. Some expectations understand the specific context and interests and kind of desires and hopes for this pilot from their perspective, which really helped us shape our understanding of how to continue working with this group. And a lot of the people here are also overlapping in that group, so we’re all aware of that work. In addition, we also did an environmental scan, and Michelle Sparrow from our organization has really been working on that. It’s still kind of working progress, and we’re going to continue doing this scan and continue expanding the scan as we go along. But I’ll speak in a few minutes around whether what kind of the main insights aren’t that came out of it. We had a literature review conducted by Audrey Jamal, Professor Olajumoke from the University of Guelph, and she’s started to work on that piece. And it will be very foundational for for many of the case studies in the rest of the work that will follow. And a big part of the work has just been really building those relationships and the partnerships both with the core partners, but also with organizations like Azari and Deloitte and exploring possibilities and potential for working together. And all of this is feeding into a process that we’ve been engaging in the past month, which is the strategic planning process. And we had a couple of sessions that we’ve engaged with the project communities two through the sessions that we had with them. And part of it is also today the conversations that we’ll have and your feedback on some of our priorities. And because to shape those pieces in parallel to all of this, we we started engaging through Cody with Dr. Paula Romano, who is a developmental evaluator who will be joining the pilot and really supporting our process. So I’ll invite Paula to just say a few words about developmental evaluation to give you a little bit of context and perspective on what that means for this pilot in general.
Paula Romano [00:07:07] Thanks, Dor and hello, everybody. Happy to meet you all, even if virtually some of you ever heard me talking about this ad nauseum, so keep it very brief. Just a very high level explanation of what is still a mental evaluation is a form of evaluation. But unlike other types of evaluation, the one we’re probably most familiar with is some sort of evaluation where you measure a project or program against a set of predetermined outcomes. And more is more useful for tracking innovation where you have a general idea of where you want to get to, but you’re not quite sure what it’s going to look like as you get to it because you’re doing stuff that’s never been done before. And of course, the community economy’s pilot fits very nicely into this theme of innovation. So I have been engaged or coding that coding institute in the Center for Employment Innovation to conduct and so right now, I’m in the process of going back to the beginning and doing sort of a prequel and, if you will, just going right back to the initial idea. Ideally, ADP starts at the beginning of a project or program, but in this case, obviously we aren’t. So we’re going to go back and look at what’s come up this to date, and I’m just in the process of engaging in that right now. And to that end, I may well be through door contacting some of you just to do very short interviews just to have a bit of a chat about your role in this and your thoughts around around this whole project. So the D is really about asking questions, and we use a framework of what? So what? And now what? So what is it that we’re seeing? What does that mean? And then now that we know what it means, or at least have some idea, where is it going to take us? And it’s very useful because it allows a project or a program to tweak as it goes along. So it’s a learning piece. You go through various phases, which are usually determined by significant events or decision points that are being made. And if you go off down, sort of make a decision, it’s not working out quite as well as you thought it was. It allows you to go back and see where that decision was made and then tweak and adjust and maybe go down the other road. We call those forks in the road. It’s very much about learning, and it’s very much about allowing us to tweak. So we are in that process right now and really, it’s a fascinating project and really enjoying it. Many of you have any questions. I’m always happy to answer them, but I suspect or we we may or may not have time to do that right now, so I’ll pass it back to door.
Dor Assia [00:10:04] Thank you, Paula. And sharing screen. You’re. Here we go. OK, so I just wanted to share a little bit of what we’ve been hearing from the project community so far. A few of the insights that came up through those conversations and through the engagement of the group. So first of all, when one major theme that’s been coming up is really the focus on Indigenous reconciliation and equity as an important dimension of the work. And really, what that means for us is the need to consider it as we think about the different governance structures and we think about different engagement and whose voice is shaping the work that we’re doing and also thinking about different ways of organizing that that could be offered through an Indigenous lens. Related to that is also the idea of community engagement and really centering community members and decision making. It’s really a common theme through all of the five communities that are participating right now. In our next session is to going and talking about that through the governance structures and also through community engagement, which are really linked together. To start thinking about that, there is a desire for a deeper dialog around what governance structures look like as we think about the three pillars of government, business and markets and and community. And how do we start bringing those together in something that came up as a strong desire from everyone is really to focus also on failures and understanding what hasn’t been working and not just what’s what’s successful and what’s working to bring in those transparent and real conversations around how we can learn from those situations. And the last piece is really around research, data and case studies that is really important for communities, both in terms of highlighting and helping to build the case for support, but also in terms of informing and educating and building that momentum that we’re trying to build. So that’s the stuff that we heard from the prototype communities. And then I want to also share a little bit about some of the insights that came out of the environmental scan. And they were Metis candid Michel that we really looked at all three pillars. We looked both at community and different networks and organizations that are similar, and they’re operating in a similar way to to what we’re trying to do, as well as how government is funding our community economy, economic work, economic development work and as well as some of the big players in the in the business world. And so some of the insights and I think the most important one is that really there is a gap around the national initiative that centre’s place based approaches and community economic development, which was also very reassuring to us in terms of the direction that we’re trying to take and go. We did. We did see that there is a shift in how funding the funding landscape in Canada through the course of the pandemic and that there is an increased awareness of the need to invest in communities from government, business and philanthropists. And of course, it’s not a surprise, but the federal government is the largest funder of economic development and economic development in Canada. And although the business sector has increased its funding to community economic development in recent years. And when you say that we did think it would be important to share at this point, is that really larger network organizations, which is the direction of what we’re trying to go in? They tend to also engage in research and thought leadership, and they try to leverage the knowledge and the relationships that are happening on the ground through their members in order to create system change. So that’s just kind of a common theme that we see through the the different networks that we looked at. And I also wanted to share just to put it up there around kind of the four. I mean, the most relevant they think national networks in Canada that are operating in that in the space and Canada, Canadian Economic Community, a kind of community economic development network or Senate, is really kind of similar in concept to some of the words we’re trying to do. We doesn’t have the place based approach in quite the same way in the three pillar approach, the Federation of Canadian Politics operates in a bit of a similar way Canadian Urban Institute, which is also part of this project in Future Cities Canada. These are just examples to give you a little bit of context and kind of this the kind of networks that we’ve been looking at, but obviously there’s many others and we continue scanning and looking at different pieces as we go. And so all of that just helped us really understand what what makes us different is an initiative and as a group, and it’s these three dimensions that we’ve that we’ve identified through this work. So first and foremost is the centering of place and place based definition of community is an organizing principle in the economic development work. The second piece is really around, starting with communities. Do we need to change but recognizing? That community is the unit of change within a globalized world. So making those connections between community as the place where we want to impact change, but still thinking about the change that we’re trying to impact in a globalized world and on that level and in our work in all of that is to develop ways and tools to strengthen community economies in order to influence the global systems. And the third piece is really and we’ve been talking about this from the beginning is the three pillar approach and recognizing that we really do need to impact three all three pillars and engage all three pillars and also create those connections between them. So this is this is kind of where our thinking is that right now in terms of our understanding of the initiative and where we want to go. And I’m going to share just one more slide before I pass it back to Jane, just around the the the emergent pilot priorities are coming up and they group them into these five buckets. I guess the first one is really around the network building and the priority there is really to continue working with the prototype communities to build the network, but also to find opportunities to to support work on the ground and really galvanize around some of the critical issues that they’re facing, but also starting to look at other communities and other networks in how we engage those that platform development. And when we say platform, we mean it in a kind of not just in a technical or virtual sense, but more in terms of the space that we’re trying to create for communities. So we’re going to think about the business structure and the business model and how we sustain this beyond the pilot and also thinking about creating the virtual container to hold that knowledge and context that needs thinking about public engagement and how we start shifting mindsets. Some of that work is really about taking the space and putting ourselves very visibly within this space. But another piece is really around starting to build those courses in economic transparency tools and case studies to to help shape the way people are thinking about economic development in a different way. And they then measurement developing those metrics and thinking about how do we measure economic well-being within the community and starting to understand what do we have and what do we not have? And then the last one right now is public policy and starting to think about how do we are we going to impact public policy and influence it? So that’s where we’re at right now. You’ll notice that there is nothing in this slide about philanthropy. And so we’re hoping that’s part of the conversation today will be also around how this philanthropy fit into the priorities of the pilot. But I won’t open that right now. We’ll have that conversation at the end, and I hope that you hold this information in your head as we go into into the next parts of the afternoon and then we can have a for conversation after that. So back to you, Jane.
Jane Hilton [00:18:22] Thank you, Dor. So we’re going to turn it over to the conversation part of today. And as Dor mentioned, we’ve got time sort of a lot of at the end for Q&A and kind of get good group dialogue going. But we also love, as you would say, a good bun fight. So love some questions. As we go along here, we can put them in the chat. You can raise a hand. It would be great to get some conversation going. So I will say that I know that Zita thinks about our work in this pilot as really making it possible for local communities to thrive within the global economy. And so that’s part of what we’re trying to do. And of course, as she thinks about her own philanthropic giving, that’s kind of the lens that she’s bringing to our work and organizing our team around, certainly. So Andrew is going to be her partner here and kind of diving into how she thinks about philanthropy and how short fast is organized around philanthropic, giving both Z his own personal giving, as well as the support of many generous people like yourselves. So here we go. I’ll turn it over to you, Andrew, and Zita.
Andrew Chunilall [00:19:35] Thank you, Jane, and thank you Dor for setting us up so nicely this afternoon and welcome to all the community. Foundations are on this call from Peterborough and Ottawa London, Victoria, Nova Scotia, Hamilton and Prince Edward County. And there was no rhyme or reason for pulling those specific community foundations together. But after those seven have come on board and I take a look at it, there couldn’t be seven more different local economies than the ones that we have here just across the country. One is even located on an actually two are located on islands, rural, urban, big, small, it’s just very diverse and very different. And why I’d point that out is as we engage in this work in this pilot, in this experiment and we learn new things, we’re going to learn it through the vastness and the depth through which Canadian economies are built from coast to coast to coast. And so certainly wasn’t intentional. Not on on, for my part, but I think a natural consequence and something that that will take a lot from. So welcome to all of you, including our partners from Cody and the Canadian Urban Institute and of course, North Pine. My name is Andrew Chunilall, and I’m so honoured here to be interviewing and talking to Zita Cobb about her journey as a businesswoman and now as a philanthropist. But I don’t know that she’s left the business case behind. It probably carries or carries her carry. She carries it with her every day. And normally I would provide a bio and talk a little bit about Zita before we engage in the conversation, but I’m not going to do that. I think a lot of you know who Zita Cobb is and knows her story. But instead, I’m going to pull out the important pieces of her story and her bio as we have this discussion over the next 30 minutes. And yeah, this is meant to be provocative, Zita said to me the other day. We should have a tussle. So we’re going to attempt to do that and it it’s important time to have this conversation in our in our country’s history. As many of you will know, there was an important piece of work that concluded last week in our sector around the disbursement quota and the disbursement quota is is is really centred at this conversation in so many ways. And for those of you who don’t know, the disbursement quota is when we call it the DQ in the sector and often times people confuse it with Dairy Queen. But the disbursement quota is a calculation. It’s a very simple calculation. It’s the application of a percentage in this case, three and a half percent to assets that are not typically used in charity and administration of foundations. And then it calculates an amount of money that we have to spend every year. It’s called a floor dispersal quota floor. It’s there for a specific reason to prevent the accumulation, the unnecessarily accumulation of assets over time in a particular organization. And when I read through a lot of the disbursement of quota submissions last week, a lot of them highlight the thing that we’re going to talk about today, and that is the need and the desire to modernize and to bring new tools to the way that we work in philanthropy. And so our conversation will be centred around that. So Zita first question, it’s an interesting moment and in the world and why I mentioned that is that there’s a lot of curiosity and a lot of attention being paid to people who have a lot of money the elite, the wealthy. And in fact, just a couple of days ago, I was reading about the Pandora papers. And before that, it was the Panama Papers, and there was another set of papers before that. And so the world that the globe is looking on at certain individuals that hold a lot of money, that hold a lot of capital power and influence, and they want to know what are they doing with all of that? Are they meeting their responsibilities as global citizens or are they trying to evade certain responsibilities and accountabilities that they may have or to the place where they generated their wealth? And you’re no different. You also are a wealthy individual and you’ve created a lot of wealth through hard work and risk taking and entrepreneurship, and everybody knows that story so well. And I’m going to ask you to reflect on on your journey, particularly through university and coming into into adulthood and into the corporate world to reflect on your relationship with with money. Your relationship with the system of capital. And then take us to the point where you became a wealthy woman and just stop there. And then I will ask the next question. So over to you,
Zita Cobb [00:24:55] Andrew, that’s a long question or a long set up to a question, I’m not sure. Hi, everyone. So let’s see where to start. Well, I am 63 years old now and I have since I was 10. I feel like all I’ve been doing is trying to navigate the relationship. Between the local and the global, because when I was 10, the global arrived at our doorstep and my father, who had absolutely no economic logic at all and no money because we just traded fish, said they must be turning the fish into money. That was the only explanation he could come up with because he knew what it was. You just we didn’t have any and it didn’t matter in our lives. It wasn’t that we wanted it. It just wasn’t the thing. And he said, you have to figure out how this money system works. Otherwise, it’s going to eat everything we love. And so that was I was 10 and in my career, probably if I was a specialist than anything, I mean, I was a finance professional, but really I was an M&A specialist. And I started working for a small company that was privately owned and deeply deeply rooted in a place. And I know Marco’s here somewhere on the call, America will know these. The founders of this company came out of Nortel, which had a deep relationship in the places that it was in. And I joined a company that had 89 people, and I left the company 12 years later that had 40000 people. And through that, I went through private ownership, deep local relationships to be owned partly by an enormous Japanese conglomerate. And how that then changed how our company was was evolving to the point that we went public today to dilute them. And then we merged with a big American company, and then I spent two years going around the world buying several dozen companies. And in all of that, I realized that I’m always working in around the question or preoccupied somehow with the question of dignity and economic dignity, in particular because whether I was standing in Australia buying a company from someone that grew up in that place and started his own little company. And we were good owners, you know, JDS Uniphase, we really were good owners, but ultimately we were decent owners. And it is such a hard thing to ever reconcile. But you mean we have to work at it? That’s all there is to it. We just have to work at it. And I think I had this responsibility for integrating all of these many companies and many people around the world. And and it was always trying to understand people in their place and how how to do that. And I don’t think I don’t think I’ve got it figured out, that’s for sure. But I do know we have to we have to approach it from both sides. But Andrew, the question I think I’ve asked you and I would ask everyone here is if you could put one thing on a T-shirt that everyone in the world would get a T-shirt and it would be in their language. What would you say? Maybe we will ask you at the end of the call. I would say it matters who owns what. Because owners determine the business models and the business models determine the outcomes. And that is what’s going to Germany outcomes for the places in which we live. Was that a do they come anywhere near answering your question?
Andrew Chunilall [00:28:18] Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate that.
Zita Cobb [00:28:21] What do you I think you told me when wealthy and not a member of the elite at the same time, but I’m not commenting on that. Well, I thought you had to be smart to be a part of the elite.
Andrew Chunilall [00:28:30] Do you already skirting my questions later? But that’s okay.
Zita Cobb [00:28:33] Let’s make it sharper. You got to get that. You got to get in and get them in sharper.
Andrew Chunilall [00:28:38] Well, let’s stay on this concept of ownership, because I think that brings us into an interesting space like ownership is clearly defined in the corporate world. We have shared capital corporations. They’re either public or private. We know who owns them. When we step into the space of community, economic development and localism and the assets that exist, particularly institutional assets like philanthropic ones, reflect on that in terms of ownership because ownership isn’t as explicit in the philanthropic world or in the nonprofit world.
Zita Cobb [00:29:16] I mean, ownership is ultimately who controls whatever that thing is, and I think when we are working on local economies, we look around, we do take this three pillar approach all the way into a question for you. Maybe we should be talking to Professor Rajan about adding a fourth pillar. Maybe philanthropy has to be its own pillar and then we would examine it differently. But I think for an economy wherever that economy is, it matters to that place. Who owns the businesses in that place, for example, because those owners are going to have different kinds of relationships with the place? I personally wouldn’t want to live in a community that had an enormous influence by, say, Jeff Bezos, because I don’t think he gets up in the morning and thinks about place at all. And I am a bit too young to be hippie, so I’m not suggesting that everything should be owned locally. But I think some things can be and and perhaps should be, and it really depends on the size of the community. I happen to be sitting in a community that the two big industries are owned actually by the community through once a cooperative, the fishery and the other one is the inn, which is owned through this charitable model. But really, if you look around a place like this or most places in our country, what is it? 70 percent of the businesses are SMEs, 70 percent. The employment are SMEs. So I think we’re facing an enormous, enormous precipice coming up in our country around how those businesses transfer ownership. And and when we think about ownership, you can think about it as a kind of a spectrum of concentrations because, you know, they get gobbled up and distanced from from where the communities that they operate in. So I think the closer they are, the more dispersed they are to kind of better in general. But we buy this is a big design problem. We like we we have to design at the right scale for the problem we’re facing. And I don’t know of anyone who’s been paying attention to Andrew Potter’s book about the end of the world or I want to call the decline of civilization or some such thing. You know, he basically says, we don’t have the institutions or the architectures to even tackle the problems that we’re facing. And that’s what we have to design for, because we have to build.
Andrew Chunilall [00:31:42] So in terms of institutions and architecture, Zita, after you left the corporate world, you came home reflect on what that journey was like because this, I assume, was your first entry point into philanthropy and really coming back to your dad’s original question when you were 10 years old is how do you do it differently? How do you design? How do you have the architectural architecture to really bring ownership back to community and deploy capital in a different way?
Zita Cobb [00:32:14] Mm-Hmm. Know there was a bit of a step in between because actually I was doing two things I was after I left aids besides sailing. I started a project in Rwanda and it was really a simple project with Care USA to distribute solar power. Wind up radios post-genocide to child headed households. I know that’s a mouthful. And I, as I progressed with that work, I started to get really uncomfortable that I didn’t know what I was doing. I don’t know the Rwandan communities. I don’t know them culturally, and I really started to get uncomfortable, especially as care once it started developing content for the radios. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m really I’m dabbling. And at the same time, I had the scholarship program at home and and I think people have probably heard this before. But we were doing a review of the scholarships when a woman, actually someone I went to high school, was set up and said, Well, you’re just paying our kids to leave. Can’t you do something to actually create employment here? And so that was the moment I really tipped from being from giving to giving and doing. And I mean, and that was 15 years ago, and as soon as you I started down that path, as the mayor said to me at the time, he said, Well, welcome to the world of community economic development. He said, you will know your work has started when someone sticks a finger in your face at a community meeting. So that happened very early on about a dozen years ago. And so I thought, OK, I guess I started. And but really, this work is still about trying to reconcile the local with the global because we need them both. We have them both. That’s the reality of the world we are in. I was super worried. I always worry about not creating a kind of dependency, which is why I think business is so important. Like, if if I bring anything home or to anywhere, I hope it’s kind of a spirit of entrepreneurship and that anybody can start a business and they can own a business. And that that to me is what do they what do we call it in the business from the dynamism that we need for our economy to work? I don’t want to create a culture of dependency. I think I’ve been only home for maybe a year when I ran into someone at the gas station who said, Is it some kind of new age charity or New Age welfare officer? Like, what is it exactly that just your past is? And so as a business that started, I think people start to understand it differently. And but really, I thought about it as taking money. But the money that was in the charity culture fast, bringing it home and investing it in in assets that would be economic engines for the community. And I can die happy and know that it’s going to carry on for, you know, a lot longer and beyond my lifetime before it becomes someone else’s problem. And so it’s interesting when people call money and sometimes money, we say assets, we mean money like money is one asset. I don’t think money held in that form does anything. It’s just kind of dead. And so I just so what I think about is turning into other assets. Maybe a maybe my dad would think it was we were turning it into fish because we’re building a market for a higher quality fish were where the fishers take fewer and get a higher price. So that’s actually turning money into fish. So I think that’s the exciting thing about money, and I think that’s the essence of entrepreneurship. What can we turn money into?
Andrew Chunilall [00:35:32] So oftentimes I hear you, you say this quote. It’s being of sane mind. I spent my money. Is that what you mean by that?
Zita Cobb [00:35:41] Exactly. And so I mean, if it’s I do think that our Canadian Canadians have given us, you know, this free pass around paying tax on the money that’s gone into our philanthropic coffers. And I don’t think they intended us to keep it as money we have. And sometimes people will look at what we are doing out here and go, Oh my God, what a big risk. And I said, Well, it just depends on if you’re if you most people want to think about risk, think about financial risk. But we were thinking about cultural risk and the risk of losing an entire community. And so, so spending money to tackle that risk seemed like not a big risk at all. Mm hmm. And and so that’s how I think about we turned the money into these economic assets and we turned it into trying to hold on to things that have value from the past, like heritage restorations, because that contains knowledge. And as they say, everything passes except the past. So we better figure out what to do with it. So, yeah, money can do that. Money can do almost anything. We ask it, actually. Right?
Andrew Chunilall [00:36:51] Zita, you know, when you stepped in the philanthropy, you would have looked at the landscape and tried to figure out what are the things, what are the tools and institutions I want to engage with to advance my philanthropy? You would have you would have come across these things called endowments, which make up a really important part of philanthropy. What did you learn about endowments and how do you feel about the way that we we manage endowments, we invest endowments and those as tools to deploy capital in the modern era? In a sense, it is something to advance some of these local priorities that you’ve talked about.
Zita Cobb [00:37:36] Yeah, I I don’t really. I mean, actually, it got Marcos here, so I was my career was largely the Canadian part of my career was in Ottawa. And so I actually had a that at the Ottawa Foundation and Barb McGinnis. And she has no doubt smiling down on us and listening carefully to everything that we’re saying was heading up the foundation then. And I wanted to take the money and do this. And Barb said, Well, that’s just not the way we work. And I said, Well, then honey, I’m taking my money and I’m going home, which is pretty much what I did. And because that model didn’t work for what I wanted to do, I mean, I don’t I guess I just I look at the world we’re in and I see it’s on fire. I think it’s so it’s beyond urgent, like we’ve just run out of adjectives. And so it feels like too often we’re saving the money for a rainy day. When we’re in a hurricane and we are, but we’re holding on to the money so that we can be safer later or something. We’re holding on to the money so we can have a world that has no social cohesion and no fresh air to breathe. He I don’t know, I think Canadians don’t expect us to do that.
Andrew Chunilall [00:39:00] Mm hmm. So you’re really hitting on the nature of of perpetual or permanent capital and
Zita Cobb [00:39:08] not capital money,
Andrew Chunilall [00:39:09] money, nature, forever money on the balance sheet. And that’s certainly that’s something that’s being challenged a lot in recent books and writings and of course, submissions to modernize the philanthropic sector. But it sort of brings us to the space of philanthropic sector reform. And much like you, I am a neophyte to philanthropy. I was never trained to do it or to work in it. But I’ve been learning over the last 15 years, as I’m sure you have any thoughts on reform. And I just want to hold the space for two types. One is what can reform look like from a policy standpoint? And the other is a cultural standpoint. There are some things we just do because we do them. There isn’t a policy framework. It’s just a norm. It’s a tradition. It’s a ritual. Could you reflect on those two spaces and and give us a sense of what reform might look like to you?
Zita Cobb [00:40:14] It feels to me from where I sit and I mean, I run a charity, so I’m in a bit of a different seat. It it feels like the the that world of philanthropy is actually still quite traditional in many places and and and hasn’t caught up with the contemporary world that we’re trying to navigate. I mean, things, you know, I know all these sort of measurements around efficiency of organizations and and, you know, too often funders will fund projects, but but somehow are allergic to thinking that these projects are run by people and we need to build some kind of institutional coherence and a team of people to do that work. I mean, we are trying to make systems change. I come out of I mean, my business career was in a lot of R&D, and I think that we can I mean, maybe not in all aspects of our charitable undertakings, but in some of them, I think we need to. Think about taking some risks in order to make systems change, mean systems change doesn’t just happen because we wish it. It happens because we and and to say to say, I think this pilot that were gathered around today is one of those. Let’s do a little test. Let’s let’s try to do a little bit of R&D to see how we can move to creating some kind of architectures or institutions that help us to gather in the three or four pillars. If we decide there force tackle that the actual problems we’re facing. So but that if if we’re not going to do that, who’s going to do that?
Andrew Chunilall [00:41:59] Well, I think that’s a rhetorical question, so I’m not I’m not the one to answer the questions today, but I will want to stay on the pillars discussion Zita. And you’ve talked about the book The Three Pillars and have suggested maybe there should be a fourth pillar. But let’s go into one of those pillars, and one of them is business. John Elkington, you know, he term the coin and coined the term, sorry triple bottom line. And what he means by that is people place and planet. And how do we hold those things in a corporate setting? Equally, such that profit is equal to all the other things that we’re working on. And when you put that alongside of the old models of the traditional models of corporate social responsibility, which is let’s just go out and make a lot of money and then we’ll give back. But the giving back is subjugated and not equal to the making a lot of money. And those two things are sort of playing out right now in the world for us. And in fact, you know, in 2019, a bunch of business executives, global executives called the Business Roundtable said that the corporation needs to exist for more than just making money. It needs to have a deeper meaning and a deeper purpose. And so the corporate world is looking at ways of doing things differently. The market changing. What’s our relationship to that? Our being philanthropy, how do we respond and work with that other sector as they sort of think through ways of of of local inclusive economic development, which is something that they’re just not used to?
Zita Cobb [00:43:53] And this is exactly the opportunity, I mean, first of all, the old model of World Bank money, and they will spend it. Ah, well, you know, will do charity or whatever. That doesn’t work because we’re making more problems than we can fix. We just can’t fix things fast enough. And you don’t need to be all that focused on the singularity to know that the change is happening so fast. We can’t our ability to keep up it. It’s just we can’t. And so I think that working with corporations that have come to the realization that they want to build whatever language you want to use, but they want to build businesses that are regenerative, let’s say, then I think they would be very welcoming and are and I know some of the people who are funding this pilot are very thoughtful on these things around how to work with philanthropic organizations or charitable organizations that are doing things in in more innovative ways that maybe actually incorporates a business model inside of a charity. And you know, we run the Fogo Island Inn out here. I haven’t gotten any complaints. It’s owned by a charity not run by a charity. I haven’t gotten any complaints from the four seasons that were hurting their business. You know, but it serves to fuel this, this place. And and I think there are lots and lots of opportunities for charities that are closer to the ground because we’re a part of communities, I think. And actually, that’s if you ask me, I don’t think we need a fourth pillar. I think we just charities and foundations are attached to places. So we’re a part of that community pillar. And and I think we can be the people that do try out different business models that help support the locals. I mean, look, in Newfoundland and Labrador, we have six hundred communities with fewer than a thousand people. But that is a serious big problem and challenge that we can tackle in in the three pillar it takes will take all three pillars to even begin to imagine. How do we activate the assets that are in those places because there are lots of rich assets there? And it’s going to take some money. It’s going to take some talent, it’s going to take some focus and we’re going to have to do it together.
Andrew Chunilall [00:46:08] And you know, Zita, as the charitable sector thinks of what those new business models are and there are many that are well down the road on that. Some critics say that there’s a blurring of the lines that in fact, you’ve got non tax paying organizations, call them charities or non-profits that are now separately stepping into the area of offering and selling commercial products and services. And that’s just in on their competitive landscape. What would you say to those folks?
Zita Cobb [00:46:42] Well, I, as I said, if I get a call from Izzy Sharp saying that the Fogell at an inn is hurting the four seasons, we should worry. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I just think that let’s blur some lines. We all understand that we have created structures that are not serving us all that well. And obviously, to an extreme, it’s a it’s a problem. I think we need to be really careful as we have been to say that charity doesn’t run a business. It can. But a charity that’s whatever work it’s doing can have different sources of funding. I think that what’s what’s wrong with that, especially on these small scales in, let’s just say, the 600 communities in Newfoundland as an example. I don’t. I mean, otherwise, I suppose we could write to Jeff Bezos and see if he wants to do something about those 600 communities. I don’t think we should expect them anytime soon, which is a good thing for sure.
Andrew Chunilall [00:47:37] Well, Zita, we just have a couple of minutes left here before our Time’s Up, and I just wanted to offer the last question to a team who provided it in the chat. And I’ll read the first part of the question. Aatif, if you want to chime in and elaborate on it, I’m sure Zita would be happy to answer it. But the question is this in governance of community? Given its place based definition, how does it focus in on those with the greatest distance to opportunity in regards to social marginalization? Aatif, did I capture that well or do you want to expand on that?
Aatif Baskanderi [00:48:15] Yeah, sure. So I kind of gave an example of one of our portfolio areas of working with formerly incarcerated people. But the example being the average income of someone who has been in prison for 10 years after prison is about the social assistance. So basically around 14 15 K annually, the cost to keep someone in prison is anywhere between 80 to 120k annually, and the recidivism rates in Canada are above 20 percent. So it has one of the greatest ROI. But when you look at the investment into better outcomes for former prisoners in Canada, severely low and I think a lot of it has to do with the nature of how funding works and is appealing to certain people in Canada. So when we talk about community and police approaches, I’m actually wondering how it takes into account that people who are the furthest distance from opportunity. I know, ideally speaking, proximity means that you may have more of a connection with someone. But this, though, can be very vulnerable populations that might be marginalized even in that context.
Zita Cobb [00:49:19] And if I would say that, well, let me just clarify what I mean by community. And I think you and I mean same thing because they come from a very similar place. It’s a place where people live in some kind of a tangle with each other and in in an urban setting, to my mind, a community is a neighbourhood and in Newfoundland and Labrador, to name could mean an island, an entire island. But but it’s where people live in both physical proximity. So an effective community is one that people understand who is here and what are their needs. And one of the things that we’re trying to work on and spit out from our pilot is what is the right architecture inside a community that allows us to work together in a way that represents the people that are here and is representative of the people that are here and their various institutions, whether it’s municipalities, to move forward together. And so if you take someone who’s come out of prison and they like, just like the rest of us, they’re actually analog. They’re physical creatures. They have got to, as we do, put our head on a pillow somewhere at night, preferably on a pillow and not in the street somewhere. And so they’re going to be in a community somewhere, either the one that they were in before they went to prison or some other place. And the better we are, the better the more cohesion we have as local communities to understand that these people have arrived in our community and have come out of prison and are in this very disadvantaged situation. The better we’re able to find those paths for how they are welcomed in. And I think that from my experience, the best solutions to these kinds of things actually happen on the ground. Usually, when someone is living next to them, as long as we don’t allow fear to to grow, I think it’s a it’s a fear has a way of sending off the wrong thing. So if we define community small enough where people in them, like a neighbourhood can actually relate to each other as individuals in a community as opposed to particles in a mass? Then then we have a hope of saving each other.
Andrew Chunilall [00:51:40] Thank you for your question, ATEED. And that brings us to the end of our interview with Zita Cobb. Zita, thank you very much. I was expecting more of a hostile witness today, but you were very cooperative in answering all the questions and I appreciate the opportunity.
Zita Cobb [00:51:55] Well, Andrew, it’s not over yet.
Andrew Chunilall [00:51:59] Back over to you, Jane.
Jane Hilton [00:52:01] So I’m actually going to be turning it to you again, Andrew. So, Andrew, in your role with CFC, I know you’ve played a big advocacy role in the in in the notions of where philanthropy is headed, the future of philanthropy, what transformation is required. And I shared yesterday Deloitte’s Monitor Institute report around what’s next for philanthropy in the 2020s. And so I think you’re going to use that as your frame to talk us through some of your perspectives on the change that’s needed. And and this in some ways can be provocative to. So for you, Andrew,
Andrew Chunilall [00:52:39] thank you, and I think Dor is going to pull up some slides for us to kick us off. I think I’m just going to take 10 or 15 minutes and just walk through a bit of the what’s next and philanthropy a little bit about me. I live in London, Ontario. Born and raised actually began in philanthropy at the London Community Foundation. In fact, the previous board chair, John Nicholson, is on this call and just had a great working relationship with John for for quite a few years. Interestingly enough, joined the London Community Foundation in 2007. When I joined, the assets of that particular community foundation were around $32 million and I was the the VP finance at the time. And when I actually met with the London Community Foundation Board last week on Thursday, and their assets are well beyond $110 million now, maybe even a little higher. So just in a very short period of time, you know, 15 years or so, they’ve almost four times their asset base, and that’s very indicative of all community foundations. If you look at that time frame, there’s been a growth in capital and these organizations have just become more robust, stronger and doing a lot more with their assets. The Community Foundation business model is something that we celebrate and acknowledge that has made a tremendous impact in 191 communities across the country. And so I offer that as context because oftentimes I talk about transformation and people conflate that with making improvements or optimizing what philanthropy does. And it’s very different than optimization. Optimization is looking at what you do and trying to do it better. Transformation is actually just trying to do it completely differently. And and there’s a lot of focus in on philanthropy right now, and we are being met with some criticism. There’s been some key data points that have shown up over the last year just during the pandemic. We’ve not done enough to support and to flow resources into indigenous communities in this country as an example or into organizations that are led or governed by by the black community. So there are certainly gaps in what we’re doing where we we’ve done well, but there is improvements that we can make in this transformation mindset is about that. So I’m going to go into the report a little bit now and maybe ask Door to flip to the next slide. The What’s Next and Philanthropy report comes from the Monitor Institute, which used to be an organization that existed on their own, and they built a lot of thought leadership, research, data, education and learning pieces for the charitable sector both in the United States and in Canada. The Monitor Institute was purchased by Deloitte for five years ago, so they’re part of the Deloitte Enterprise and the Deloitte brand, and they issued a report, as they do every couple of years or so, on the future of philanthropy, and they issued their most recent report just a few weeks ago. And really, they’re challenging some of the default settings. Some of the conventional norms and philanthropy and calling us to have that transformational change. The report is supported by many foundations, both on on both sides of the border. But the J.W. McConnell Foundation in Canada provided significant resources to bring this report to bear in Canada. And so I just wanted to acknowledge that the last door to go to the next slide. So when they pull this report together, many people were were interviewed. I think everybody has access to the report. I think Jane might have provided that. But they interviewed over 200 philanthropic executives, practitioners, donors, board members, experts and compiled a landscape review on where philanthropy is going. And so the report’s very specific in respect of what are some of the big shifts that are happening in our world. But then also talking about some of the edges that are guiding those shifts that are playing out. And so I’m going to touch on some of the shifts because I think we know the shifts well. We’re living with the shifts every day and then go into a little bit more detail around around the edges. Our next line. So this is a nice diagram, and as you can see around the, you know, around that half circle, there are seven shifts economic inequality, political polarization, shifting demographics, momentum around racial justice, ubiquitous technology, the state of climate emergency and a social compact in flux. I’m just going to touch on those before we get into the edges. Economic inequality, I think we all understand this quite well in the in the last 18 months and in Canada, we’ve seen it exacerbated because of the pandemic. We’ve seen wealth being created in the stock market. We’ve seen Canadians who hold financial assets, particularly real estate. We’ve seen their wealth go up. We’ve seen others have it eroded at an extraordinary paces. If you happen to be working in industries that were disproportionately disadvantaged because of the pandemic, you would have seen a wealth erosion and that just holds economic inequality to profound levels. The Gini coefficient is something that measures income inequality, and it’s used throughout the world to to assess inequality in a particular economy. Canada usually does really well in this area. Relatively speaking, our Gini coefficient is usually in the mid thirties. If the most unequal society has a Gini coefficient of one hundred, of which nobody has a Gini coefficient of hundred in the most equal would be zero. Countries like India and South Africa have a Gini coefficient, usually in the low to mid 60s. My sense is when the data comes in and Stats Canada pulls, this pulls the most recent data on the gene coefficient what probably the end of the forties. And so that’s just a guess, but we’ll see how that plays out. Political polarization? Well, I think we were all watching. Many of us have been watching the TV a few weeks ago as we had our political election. Just some startling things, not new, but startling. Clearly, there is a rural urban divide in this country on political ideology. We saw that in front of us with with the maps of where some of the some of the Ridings went. We saw that in in the US with respect to the the the American federal election in the fall as well. So we know that that’s alive and well in the Canadian context. Shifting demographics. We have a really low birth rate in this country. It’s one point seven. The replacement rate birth rate in any economy is 2.1. So we don’t replace ourselves naturally puts a lot of pressure on bringing newcomers to Canada. We all know that Canada will probably target immigration at somewhere between four and five hundred thousand people. But the story really isn’t immigration. We’ve had immigration this country for a long, long time. It’s where the immigration is coming from, and mostly it’s coming from the global south. And that’s very different when you have immigrants coming from Europe. There’s our systems in Canada, our our laws, our government are really Eurocentric systems. Philanthropy is a Eurocentric system. So as we see those shifts happening because of immigration, more and more people are going to challenge the systems. They won’t have an affinity to some of the systems that we have and they’ll be asking questions. Philanthropy is no different. Last year, we had the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We we have been dealing with issues of carding. We’ve been dealing with issues within reconciliation. And so there’s this new momentum around racial justice. And I highlighted two data points earlier that the black community and the Indigenous community are doing their own independent studies and saying, Hey, philanthropy in Canada, really not serving us? How can we be part of this discussion? How can we be part of that ecosystem, ubiquitous technology and access to information? Social media provides an opportunity and a platform for every citizen who’s on it to have a voice. Oftentimes, that leads to misinformation, mischaracterizations. It can create movements. It can have a very pervasive impact on our work. And so that’s something we need to pay attention to. And, of course, the state of climate and the social emergency that’s playing out. The IPCC, the IPCC had a report that came out a few weeks ago that talked about the seriousness and the urgency of what’s in front of us and Zita. Talk about that as well. And are we well equipped to deal with that urgency? We’re talking about long term, systemic, you know, down the road type work. What happens when the issues are in front of you right now, when literally we are on fire, this province is on fire burning up? How does this philanthropic business model that we have to react in those particular instances, the social compact, some people call this the social contract. I think this is an opportunity to think big. After World War Two, there was an economist by the name of William Beveridge. He issued the Beveridge report out of the United Kingdom, and that report was used to define the social compact of its time. And it had some crazy notions and ideas in that report that would stemming from universal health care. Access to education for all a national pension system like these were a lofty, crazy ideas back in the late 40s, but it formed the social compact for the social contract of not just the United Kingdom, but the entire Commonwealth, including Canada. And we may be at a stage where transformation and this transformation agenda is informing those new big ideas that we might want to engage in. And so the Deloitte report highlights these as big things that are sort of happening around us and then wants to centre us in the middle of that and ask ourselves, as well as philanthropy as community organizations. What’s our role in all of that? So I start to move forward on the next slide, the edges shifting philanthropy. So there’s four of them, and that’s rethinking philanthropy role. And the community economic pilot is about that. We’ve never really engaged in this way before, but we’re trying to think of what are our new tools and can we build new tools right now? And so thinking about the work that we do as economic development, as local economic development is a new frame. The second one is balancing power. We talked a little bit to zero about the wealth and wealth accumulation and elite ism. It’s also what catalyzing leverage and then working with others partners, government, the different pillars that Zita referred to. And of course, the last one is how do we redesign the enterprise? We recognize that our institutions have some shortcomings and how can we address those? Dor next slide, I’m just going to dig a little bit into some of these, but not not all of them pick out the ones that are most pertinent to us. So maybe I’ll start with getting out of the way. A lot of times funders want to fund things that are important for the institution itself. They might set a direction and say, Hey, you know what? Food security is really important here in our community, and we are going to fund things around food security. We’re going to take a deep dove and go and go heavy into that. Oftentimes, that priority may be misaligned with the priority of that broader community. And so we have to think about our funding differently. Maybe we just need to cut the check to the highest performing nonprofits and charities that are doing the best work out there and then get out of the way trust that they’re going to do the right thing. And if they don’t, well, we fund other organizations. And so it’s about getting out of the way, providing more security around where organizations have operational capacity so they don’t need to think about operational capacity. They can think beyond it. They’re not always chasing the next dollar to make the payroll, but they have the comfort and the space to really think about the challenges that are in front of them. Meet them in the right way. Funding innovation to maximize impact just will go back to that slide. I’m going to hit one more door and then we’ll move forward. This really goes to this really goes to capital. You know, Zita talked about her journey through a few different corporations and mergers and acquisitions and how capital plays a role in that. Whether you’re private or public enterprise in our world, in the foam profit world that we typically fund things through granting. And oftentimes that’s a really important component, and it’s something that we should always continue to do. However, it it doesn’t address what’s what’s playing out and accelerating in the Canadian economy right now. And that is social enterprises. And these are companies that are that are led by younger Canadians typically and are about addressing the triple bottom line that we talked about before. But they don’t have access to capital through banks or through venture companies. Can philanthropy show up and be that investment backer for these types of companies to really scale up and have the impact that we want? Do we have a role around our capital that’s about getting behind organizations like social enterprises? Dor to the next line. Power, a lot of discussion about power and philanthropy. Philanthropy comes from some of the most powerful wealthiest industrialists of our time. We know who they are, the Carnegies and the Rockefellers. Typically, they bring others to the table that have a lot of power. You know this. This goes to a chiefs question, which is the distance between where the institution is and where those that lack access to opportunity lie. And organizations like Community Foundations have a history not so much that the the place where we are now because we’ve made a lot of progress. But how do we bring those important agents in our community that are closely associated with the issues that we’re working on to the board table, to the decision making table and closing that gap? So we have a really clear understanding on where our capital is needed and how it needs to be deployed. There was an article in the future of good publication that looked at. Investment committees now, almost all philanthropic foundations have an investment committee because your assets are invested and it looked at the investment committees of, I would say, about eight or nine foundations in Canada, and it looked at who was making the decisions on how money was invested. And it was a very narrow demographic. It was one very specific demographic that was overrepresented at the table, typically typically were men, and it typically were white men. And that’s a lot of power to have, you know, zero talked about influence. Who’s influencing where the capital is going? We need to look at where the power is, who’s having influence and ensuring that those that have the influence really represent the communities in which we operated. Next, edge took door when catalyzing leverage. So how do we unlock and guide capital and align ourselves to the right types of action? And often times we go where the money is, so we’re chasing the donor and then the donor becomes really centre to how the capital is deployed, how we unlock capital and donors are really important. Part of this conversation shouldn’t be minimized at all. We really need the donors, but we also need to help the donor understand where the priorities of the community are. Oftentimes that could be misaligned to where the donors own intentions want to be. But we really need to have an honest conversation if we’re we’re centring capital and community. Are we bringing the donor along in that journey so we can appropriate leverage their wealth in the right way that builds out local inclusive economic economies? And so redesigning the enterprise, rethinking what philanthropic organizations look like. Addressing governance at the at the heart of any organization is culture. And we have to think about what philanthropic culture where it comes from and why we have that type of culture that we have and have that inform where we’re going to go next. As I said before, when we talk about shifting demographics, there is a culture in this country that is transforming because of those shifting demographics. And are we evolving our philanthropic institutions to match that cultural change? That’s something that we need to think about, too, when we’re redesigning our enterprises. So that brings us to the end. Jane, I think we’re we’re probably in a Q&A or something right now, but yeah.
Jane Hilton [01:11:25] Thank you, Andrew. Thank you. And I think what we want to do is link it all back, of course, to the pilot, so Dor, I’m going to get you to bring up that slide again on the emerging priorities. And I think there were a number of comments there going in the chat, much of them around the different measures that we need to consider the kind of pros and cons to various measure indexes that we can use and a big part of what we’re trying to do. And data and measurement, as you can see here, is around what exactly we need to be collecting to link these kind of measures to place and to community. So that’s certainly relevant to here. But, you know, in the Deloitte report, I’m just going to read this one little section of it because it is it does tie to the way we’re aiming to work with this pilot, and I will acknowledge that this is this is as Zita and many Newfoundlanders would say, it’s very tangly work and it is by its nature and we need to be in that tangle to do the work, to make the change. So the report talks about how philanthropic networks of the power of actually coming together and a big part of our work is, of course, about bringing people together. In this moment, we’re talking about philanthropic funders, so funders to come together to identify and engage more of the stakeholders that are essential to addressing an issue. So building that shared understanding of complex problem mobilizing resources that match the scale of the challenges, working together to test a range of possible solutions and create feedback loops and systems for sharing that can can facilitate the collective learning and action. So that feels very akin to what we’re trying to do through this pilot. And I think what we want to do is bring it back to the slide that you’ve got door around the priorities and just think through how does philanthropy fit in? Here is one of the questions that we certainly want to tackle. What is the role of philanthropy in community economic development and how can we kind of find that or see that in our priorities? I want to remind us, too, that of course, we have five prototyping communities that we’re working with and and that in and of itself is a learning about who does represent a community and some of the challenges for actually asking ourselves as we build governance, new ways of collaborating and governance structures to work together. How do we actually get kind of two seats at the table or representation of a community? That’s a that’s a sort of emerging work as well for us that we’re in the tangle with our prototype communities and thinking that through together. So Dorie, you wanted to pose a few particular questions here, did you to get feedback on the priorities themselves and then the role of philanthropy specifically?
Dor Assia [01:14:25] Sure. So these are the questions that we had posed, but I think you also framed it a bit more broadly or specifically around the pilot and the role of philanthropy within it. So really feel free to jump in on any of these. But but what we’re really trying to understand is a little bit of your perspective on on this slide. These the prairies that already emerged at this point through the conversations with the prairie, with the with the Protect communities, as well as thinking where this philanthropy fit within all of this, especially based on the conversation that we had today. So I’ll just open it up for people’s participation now.
Mary W. Rowe [01:15:13] I put my little hand up, but I don’t know if I have to wait for someone to acknowledge it or am I allowed
Jane Hilton [01:15:16] to just say, sorry, I missed it. Jump in, Mary.
Mary W. Rowe [01:15:19] And then of course, the problem is you put your darn hand up and then how the hell do you get it down? So the bishop said that the actress just a second. OK, so I have just a quick question about thank you, first of all, for these presentations from both Andrew and from Zita and or how you’re trying to show us in. There are pilot community reps here in the call and and local foundations that are supporting pilots. And then we have the folks from Peterborough who actually don’t have actual participation in the pilot, although I’d love it if we could find a way to start to onboard other communities that need to be part of this conversation. So I’m very pleased to see so many from the Peterborough gang here. I have a question about if we’re trying to meet. Matt Mendelsohn may want to Covid on this, and I bet Craig Alexander well, if we’re trying to invert the conversation and have local community contexts, be what drives public policy decision making around investment rules on investment rules, on how things get built. What gets built. How can this pilot provide a path forward for all sorts of investors? Institutional investors impact investors like a teacher green going into the chat about, very helpfully, can we could we see out of the pilot? We could point a way forward that says this is what place based policymaking and investment needs to look like to strengthen community economies. And we want to we want to pull apart the old way of doing it and illustrate to you why this is the new way to do it. So I’m wondering if Craig, if you want to say anything on that and maybe Matthew Mendelsohn.
Craig Alexander [01:17:01] I think the pilot projects will be instructive in a number of different ways. OK. The area that I’m sort of closest to is on the the data collection side of things. And I think part of the issue and this goes back to, you know, an observation Zita once made about how, you know, if if the person making the decision on the ferry sketch well actually understood the local community, the time of the ferry would be completely different than it actually is, right? And I think the reality is that a lot of decisions that are made that impact communities are not informed by good data. And so I think that, you know, the component of this project that’s going to illustrate what data is available and where the data shortages are particularly talking to the the like, I’m I’m looking forward to talking with economic development officers of each the communities and saying like, what data do you actually use to make your decisions? Because I have a sneaking suspicion, we’re going to find out they don’t. They aren’t armed with the information they need, right? And then and then once you have more data about what’s going on in the local community, I think it becomes easier for communities to engage with policymakers on the issues they’re facing. So I think that’s that’s that’s one illustration.
Mary W. Rowe [01:18:26] Yeah, I mean, you know me, I’d rather go even further and say the ferry shouldn’t be being operated by the federal government. There are way too far away from that, right? And so we should actually try to push the authority in the Decision-Making to a local entity that makes those calls.
Craig Alexander [01:18:41] That’s part of it as well, right? It’s like you’re making decisions that affect us, but you don’t actually understand the implications of your decisions, right? I mean, something that hasn’t come up, but I’ve been thinking a lot about is is, you know, the sense that the project is that communities don’t get enough attention and their voice are heard. What’s interesting about that observation is that politicians definitely think in terms of communities. Right, like MP and ministers of parliament, like they they they’re all about community. It seems to be what happened somewhere between the the political interest in the community and then the decision, the actual decisions that are made in terms of policy community gets lost somewhere somewhere along that line. Right. And I think that’s that’s part of what we can sort of illustrate in terms of of the pilot projects.
Jane Hilton [01:19:39] All right. Thank you. I’m going to jump in to you, Matthew, and then next over to Robert Kennedy.
Matthew Mendelsohn [01:19:45] Thank you very much. I’m going to talk really, really quickly. I apologize. I have like something like from, you know, a foreign world. I’m actually going to a meeting somewhere at 3:30. So I’m in transit. I know everyone’s forgotten what physical meetings are like. I’m really grateful to be here and Mary’s question. I don’t think I have an answer for yet, but it is the key question and I’m struggling with it. And I can also do some problem definition here. But I think we’re working our way towards something. And I think Craig’s two observations around data. My understanding is local. We have very poor data on a lot of local community kinds of issues, which is an obstacle. And second, that politicians do think about community, but public administration doesn’t. So just to return to the pillar there on the slide deck, the public policy pillar is really important and it’s something I’m working on actively and we can talk about lots of things afterwards or offline. But I think it has to include the question of public administration as well. So public policy in its broadest sense, because all of the things you are, we are talking about collectively, there are so many systems which stand in the way of all of it. And most of it is implicit. But for example, our public accounting and budgeting, we measure expenditure. We certainly don’t measure long term impact, although we talk about quality of life or community well-being, and the current government will try and put it into stuff. Real economists at the Ministry of Finance don’t really think about it, and it’s not part of the real conversation. Treasury Board officials, when they’re writing terms and conditions about how grants can be allocated, even though politicians want to be responsive and experimental and innovate and have feedback loops and do developmental evaluation and be responsive to local community feedback and co-developed with communities other than the occasional initiative, like the Smart Cities Initiative, the chat with the people from Peterborough would be familiar with. I mean, there there are occasional initiatives that really try and co-create at the local level with community and take ownership of an agenda. Treasury Board terms and conditions for any grant never have local feedback. Community adjustment. They’re national in scope. So we could go on and on about these things, how we use procurement, how we measure community benefits, all kinds of different issues. But how we do all of these things in public administration stands in opposition to what we collectively are trying to drive. And I’m happy to talk more about those, you know, sometime, but that’s my observation on this conversation. But I think that now more than ever is a time when hopefully we can make some progress on these things because so many of the people who are the keepers of the conventional wisdom now do understand that sustainability has to be part of investment decisions. It’s not an add on. It’s not a corporate social responsibility, but redistribution afterwards. Sustainability, climate finance, these are real things. And so we’re starting to embed inclusion, sustainability, these kinds of things into business decisions. So it’s time that government can figure out how to arrange its tools to embed a lot of these things, including the idea of community into its tools. And I’ll stop there.
Jane Hilton [01:23:36] Great. Thank you. Matthew brings us back to that people place and planet again in so many words. So, Robert, do you want to jump in?
Robert Orr [01:23:45] Thank you, and I only have a couple of minutes also. So first, the ungrounded assessment because I’m not party to the process and that is in these emergent pilot priorities, it seems to me that there’s there’s a distinction that is not being made and that distinction is what are the priorities related to the piloting that goes on in the five pilot communities? And how do we set ourselves up for success in terms of those those pilots and the learnings that will come from those pilots? And I don’t see anything in these priorities that talks about citizen innovation and the relationship with citizens. Communities are not communities like I think communities are a are a collective of human beings. And so I see that completely missing, and then there’s a lot of the latter problem this year, while they could be things that happen then that emerge out of a community developing its own path forward. You know, I see still way too much of us doing too community here and and dealing with some of these other grandiose problems. And, you know, not not to not to be, you know, confrontational about it, but the commentary earlier about. No, you want to go in and have conversation with the local economic development officer. Well, half the communities or more that we’re talking about, they don’t have an economic development officer. They don’t even know where to start. So, you know, my sense is that is where is the citizen engagement and the ability to create new possibility for citizens to think that they can come together in some way, that they can start to plot their own destiny and work on it with their assets? And so I think there’s a distinction between what we want to do and in the pilot projects. And then what we want to do is this overarching, grandiose organization that’s going to, you know, you know, make some, you know, carrying on the future, assuming of some success of the pilot. So I think you need to separate those into two distinct set of priorities.
Jane Hilton [01:25:59] OK, so I want to give a chance to respond to that. I’m wondering, Zita, do you want to jump in on that or draw you as well?
Robert Orr [01:26:07] I don’t think you have to defend it. I’m just making a comment.
Zita Cobb [01:26:09] Yeah, yeah. I’m just I’m
Robert Orr [01:26:12] throwing a bun without allowing you to throw one back.
Jane Hilton [01:26:14] So there’s there’s, you know, I think I could. Is it correct that I could summarize what you’ve said, Robert, as wanting to make sure that we have got very local? The many locals that we’ve engaged in this, that they can see themselves and this pilot, its relevance to their own community, to citizens within their own communities. That is that another way to say what you know?
Robert Orr [01:26:40] Well, partially what I’m saying is I think there’s a distinction that needs to be made between when I see emergent pilot priorities as what priorities happen inside the pilot and what priorities do we take away or sure, fast whoever the larger organization in terms of what it’s doing with the results of those pilots. And I think those are two separate, distinct things and two separate should have two sets of priorities and mulching them together to me doesn’t bring clarity of purpose at Robert.
Zita Cobb [01:27:11] The one thing I would add to, I get what you’re saying. The one thing I would add is to say in our on our definition of communities, which is more or less Rajan’s definition. It includes citizens. Absolutely. And it includes the institutions and associations that they already have that in one way or another, wholly or partially properly or not or part of that community. So that one of the things that I think we all know who worked on the ground closely on the ground is that within a community, we actually don’t have those structures for help for understanding what do our citizens think or want? I mean, it’s it’s just hard work because there’s no natural way for that to. But yes, it’s always that keeping the most important thing, the most important thing.
Robert Orr [01:27:59] Yeah. And and I think you know the you know, from my concern is that we have a historic wrongness or a way of thinking that has appeared in how we act and the over the over concentration on individualism. And if you could take kind of an Aristotle Aristotle approach to human being only shows up in community. The only way that one realizes the fullness of being human is in a community. And so that the the whatever we’re doing in community is to free up possibilities for for the the actual individual person living in their community and their their possibilities and so forth. So I, you know, maybe it’s in those first to the first two buckets and there’s more behind the, you know, the you know, those two things. But I just found that a little bit confusing for me and not distinguishing between the priorities of the community project and the priorities of the overall project in terms of what it does with the results.
Zita Cobb [01:29:08] Let’s make it clearer.
Robert Orr [01:29:11] Thank you. So we have to leave.
Jane Hilton [01:29:14] Yes, we’re a time right now, so I think we’ve had the final word there. But I want to thank everybody for your time today and your contribution, those of you who lend your support to the project as well. So we’ll keep this dialog going and very open to hear your feedback in between as well as we continue along together. Thanks so much.
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00:47:12 Aatif Baskanderi, The Northpine Foundation: Question for later… In governance of “community”, given it’s place-based definition, how does it focus on those with the greatest distance to opportunity in regards to social marginalization. For example, formerly incarcerated peoples have one of the largest disparities, avg. income 14 year post-incarceration being $14K (i.e. social assistance), hence have the greatest ROI for community return but some of the lowest invested. How does this community or place-based approach pay attention to these high potential yet underinvested populations for human thriving? How do philanthropy or community foundations and associated charities or any social purpose org keep themselves accountable to these target blue ocean populations?
01:12:02 Craig Alexander: The Gini coefficient is a very poor measure of inequality. It does not capture what is happening to the tails of the income distribution. If one looks at the differential between the top decile or quartile compared to the lowest decile or quartile you see much more inequality.
01:17:29 Gord Cunningham: The wealth gap is more stark than the income gap. We need to include assets as well as income in any useful measure
01:19:31 Aatif Baskanderi, The Northpine Foundation: As I look at disbursement quota (DQ) calculation being 3.5% of the 2-year avg. value of property/assets NOT used for charitable activities, makes me wonder if a foundation found investments that meet the objectives of it’s charitable activities, do those investments now remove themselves from that quota equation? If a foundation has all of its endowment in activity-aligned investments (not impact or mission aligned), would the DQ become a non-issue? E.g. could a foundation find a real estate investment that yielded minimal or risky return (perhaps from mixed revenue sources) who provides stable housing to formerly incarcerated peoples or could we make that marketplace of investible assets if it doesn’t exist to prove out the policies and market?
01:19:37 Aatif Baskanderi, The Northpine Foundation: If the concern is to carry over enough endowment to continue impact work, then putting everything into charity activity-aligned investments that yield an average of break even, or even at a loss to draw down, could be an opportunity to learn a tonne and evolve policies rather than having to play the market on non-activity aligned investments. I am more interested to see how putting funds into fueling a foundation’s activity-aligned objectives could work. Trying to mentally make the bridge from impact investing to mission-aligned investing (I think both subject to DQ, but correct me if I’m wrong) to activity-aligned investing given the current Canadian policies to leverage the whole balance sheet and tools to meet objectives. If foundations let the draw down happen while focusing on aggressive learning on social outcomes, it could evolve policies to drive for better social outcomes. Mind tinkering on how to unlock the +$70B in endowments.
01:19:52 Craig Alexander: When one focuses on wealth inequality it turns into a discussion about capital/inheritance taxes. When one focuses on income inequality the discussion is about income transfer but more critically on removing the barriers to success. From a community point of view, I would focus on income inequality rather than wealth. Just my 2 cents.
01:29:53 Michelle Baldwin (she/her): +1 on community decision making to Mary’s point!