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Vision Next Learning Hub

This is an outstanding city.
But you don't just take.
You've got to build.

Fran Deacon

Wife of the late Fraser Deacon,
Founder of Toronto Foundation

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Vision Next Learning Hub

Vision Next is a one-year, philanthropic learning journey designed to support YOU as you embark on becoming Toronto Foundation fundholders and impactful 21st century philanthropists.  Our key learning objectives include:

The New Philanthropy: Explore the collective and personal values that underpin effective and impactful charitable giving today.

The Philanthropic Landscape: Get grounded in the issues facing the city that inform effective philanthropy and the organizations that are working on solutions.

Granting 101: Learn about Toronto Foundation’s approach to granting and how it can inform your own giving.

New Models for Impact: Get informed about the emerging approaches to impact that go beyond granting.

Toronto Foundation as your Philanthropic Partner: Optimize the services, resources, and opportunities at Toronto Foundation to inform, shape and direct your philanthropy.


*Use this hub to look back on event summaries, reflect on learnings, and download the materials presented.*


VISION NEXT WRAP UP (January 14, 2021)


At our Vision Next wrap up event …text about the event goes in this space.


SOCIAL IMPACT INVESTING (October 27, 28, 2020)


At our Social Impact Investing events …text about the two social impact investing events goes in this space.


ALL THE FEELS (September 23 & 29, 2020)


On two different dates, we gathered on-line for our 4th official Vision Next All the Feels session. In smaller cohort groups, we were again exploring the fundamentals of the New Philanthropy. Specifically, we worked through a facilitated session to uncover our personal values and philanthropic principles and discussed how to align these with philanthropic action.

Key Objectives

    1. Doing a deeper dive into the New Philanthropy, in particular identifying our values and philanthropic principles and aligning these to philanthropic action to begin planning intentionally
    2. Continuing to connect and get to know each other

Core Content

Upfront Remarks

Aneil welcomed everyone and provided some upfront remarks including:

    • A reminder (after a long hiatus due to COVID) of our overarching Vision Next program objective, overall learning objectives as well as the specific objectives for the night.
    • Highlighting that the New Philanthropy is about exploring the collective AND personal values that underpin effective and impactful charitable giving. And that this session is about looking inward and uncovering our own values and philanthropic principles to help guide how we LEARN and ACT as it relates to our philanthropy.
    • Download the PowerPoint presentation.

Aneil introduced our colleague, Nadien Godkewitsch, who took everyone through a series of reflective and interactive activities. This included:

    • Watching a short video of two of our Vision 2020 cohort members sharing what they learned from the All the Feels session and how they have used their insights to inform their philanthropic planning.
    • A Motivational Values exercise – people identified the values that most resonated with them and shared these with a partner followed by a group discussion.
    • A Money Messages activity to reflect on the money messages people grew up with and then which money message they would like to live by going forward. This was also debriefed in pairs and then as a group.
    • A Philanthropic Principles exercise where everyone selected a principle(s) that resonated with them and discussed this with a new partner and then with the larger group.
    • People then summarized the key components from the previous exercises on a Philanthropic Story card.
    • Finally, there was a group discussion on how to use these insights to navigate your philanthropy going forward – to LEARN and ACT. This included:
        • thinking about one’s philanthropy holistically, including financial support, time, expertise, ally-ship etc.
        • drawing on multiple learning journey elements to provide focus and help with planning including starting to research, explore issues and organizations to support:
            • one’s new Values and Philanthropic principles
            • the issue area(s) that are a priority (some examples: mental health, arts and culture, Reconciliation, food security, women, housing insecurity etc.)
            • the principles of good granting:
                • focused on small and medium sized organizations led by the communities they serve
                • making unrestricted, multi-year grants
                • considering giving with others to maximize impact
    • The session ended with everyone reflecting on what resonated for them the most and sharing these thoughts in the chat.

Feedback from Attendees

What I liked best:
    • Interesting concepts to think of intentionally. Typically these things are more just in my subconscious and not really thought about too much.
    • It forced me to pause and really think about what values are important to me and how they impact the decision I make in life.
    • Giving me the language and framework to have this discussion with my partner.
    • Loved the change to connect with others and to hear more about what drives them and what they value.
    • The opportunity to hear from others and realize how their values can help me clarify your own.
    • The connection from values to principles around giving.
 What I liked least:
    • Wish we could do in person (note from TF – we do too!).
    • Trying to relate core values to how I would take action in philanthropy…was too broad for me…need to drill down a little more.
    • I would have liked to hear from more people. Either in the bigger group or the break out sessions. I find everyone so insightful and I feel enriched every time we get together.


Cohort News Flash

To share: Follow-up links from The Institute for Canadian Citizenship’ 6 Degrees Forum from Vision Next cohort member, David Leonard:

All available on-demand now:

The Adrienne Clarkson Prize broadcast featured a moving and powerful conversation between The Rt. Hon Adrienne Clarkson, and The Hon. Murray Sinclair, head commissioner of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Our 360 was a lively exposition of reform v. revolution in change-making. The LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture brought us some brilliant, establishment minds on the intersecting crises of our time, and how we can emerge better, more just, more inclusive.

To Share: KidCoach volunteer opportunity with Future Possibilities for Kids, from Vision Next cohort member, John Davitsky:

To Share: Link to the free virtual book launch party for his book, ‘Building Unity: Leading a Non-Profit From Spark to Succession’ from Vision Next cohort member, Mike Prosserman:

  • Mike is also offering to run a mini book club for anyone interested in reading a free PDF copy of the book and then joining a Zoom discussion in late November to discuss themes from the book on donor accountability, charity leadership, impact measurement and whatever else stands out for folks! Please email Mike at:

To Read: Book recommendation, The Soul of Money, from Vision Next cohort member, Sonia Dong

To Read: Our Power Moves facilitator, Kofi Hope’s latest article in the Toronto Star 



VISION NEXT CLUBS (August 11 / August 25, 2020)

In this time of physical distancing and with fewer formal events on the roster, we still wanted to bring the cohort together. We planned some flexible, casual, one hour “summer hangouts” for those who could make it, where we could discuss topics related to philanthropy and continue to learn with and from each other.

Key Objectives

    1. Learning more about the philanthropic landscape
    2. Continuing to connect and get to know each other

Podcast Core Content


Aneil welcomed everyone to the discussion and provided some upfront remarks including that this podcast had come out in January 2020 and after listening to it several times at the start of the year and now during the pandemic, there are some really good questions asked about philanthropy and its role in addressing the pressing issues of our time. We spent the remainder of the session in both smaller and full group discussions.

    • Listen to the podcast here (Apple podcasts) or here (BBC website) (run time is 49 mins)

Podcast Insights From the Group

    • We have been springing into action because of the emergency but a lot of the emergency is caused by existing structural problems and a lot of the inequalities are being revealed by the pandemic.
    • What’s different about the pandemic is that you have to think about all the interrelatedness of what’s going on whether small or big and you can choose to ignore it for a bit but in reality if you want to function again you have to come up with solutions and that’s a good thing.
    • Are we really going to unpack and change some of these areas? We have a huge opportunity, never has the world been told to stop and really think about what is going on and how to do things differently.
    • Trying to take the practical from some of the conversation down to based in the reality that we are living in a flawed economic system, what do I do and how does that impact what I do with my finite resources (philanthropic resources) and energy.

TED Talk Core Content


In this get-together, we discussed the conversation between Head of TED Talks, Chris Andersen, and Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. In the TED talk, they discuss how philanthropy needs to change in order to build back better, and how this will require people to get uncomfortable.

  • You can watch the TED Talk here (run time is 51 mins)

Ted Talk Insights From the Group

    • The pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement and wide spread inequality has resulted in a lot of learning and unlearning for folks. People have been taking part in conversations about equality and race, in our larger society and also within families, that they weren’t having before.
    • To combat hopelessness, what Darren Walker calls “the threat of our time”, people are taking small steps, understanding different perspectives, using a learning mindset, being part of supporting communities, getting feedback…
    • People are considering how to balance the ground-up work (individual change, philanthropy, Social Impact investing) with institutional and policy initiatives to drive change.


Cohort News Flash

To share: The Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s upcoming 6 Degrees (forum for inclusion) from Vision Next cohort member David Leonard:

To Share: Webinar series in September – Urban Alliance on Racial Relations (10 events over 5 days with 2 a day). Register here:

To Share: Coursera course – Indigenous Canada. It’s free to enroll and new sessions are starting every week:

To share: Sew-TO Collective which is a group of community members in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park making and selling masks – from Vision 2020 member Cathy Richards




COVID-19 has brought turbulent and deeply unsettling times with on-going challenges for so many. It has required everyone to pivot in multiple ways. This includes our planning for the Vision Next learning journey. Many of the cohort have not been together since The Deacon Legacy Grant event in March or Power Moves in February. We revised our program and decided to go on-line with a Sense-Making Amid COVID-19 event. We took our cues from what has been happening in the world and as always, were guided by the New Philanthropy, in particular; informed by learning and collaboration.

Key Objective

    • In light of the pandemic but also the more recent events highlighting pervasive racism and inequality, this session brings the cohort together again and provides space for a sense-making discussion to hear and learn from each other.

Core Content

Upfront Remarks

Sharon welcomed everyone to the session and provided some upfront remarks and context including:

    • The emotion our team has been feeling over the last thirteen weeks and even more in the last two weeks
    • How the COVID crisis has emphasized even more for all of us the inequality that exists in society and reinforced our mandate of building a more equitable Toronto together with the philosophy of the New Philanthropy
    • How the TF team has been busy for weeks convening and creating the Better Toronto Coalition webinar series which highlights the devastating impact COVID is having on the organizations working in the philanthropic sector and the people they serve as well as the the Better Toronto Coalition grants we have been making to provide much needed support
    • Highlighting that we need transformative change and reinforcing the need to understand the issues even more deeply and that Toronto Foundation is committed to education and learning including how to do Philanthropy differently

Our facilitators, Lisa Watson and Cathy Mann then took the group through a series of reflections and conversations in pairs, small groups and the larger group guided by three core questions:

What – What’s inspiring you and/or what’s troubling about what you’re seeing or learning through the pandemic?

So What – So what role could Vision Next play in shaping the emerging future?

Now What – Identify intentions or actions to take into your lives and work. As part of that, please consider how this learning journey – and this group of people – could support and enable your intentions and actions.

Key Takeaways

The Group’s Thoughts:
Lisa Watson’s Summary of Themes:
    • Giving differently and creatively
    • Continuing to build knowledge of the work happening in communities
    • Learning more about one another – what we’re passionate about, what we’re working on
    • Convening us more regularly so we can keep learning and foster collaboration
    • Sharing stories so that we can educate and engage our networks

Feedback from Attendees

I am considering taking the following steps as a result of the discussion tonight…
  • Looking at smaller charities that people aren’t thinking of right now to donate to​
  • Watching more of the recorded webinars; donating to both Black-led organizations and organizations working to create systemic change against anti-BIPOC; joining the Vision Next Facebook group or other virtual convening area to continue the conversation and support for action
  • Proactively get to know more people in the cohort, so that I can align opportunities and actions
  • Engage more with the cohort and increase my curiosity around issues/initiatives outside my normal field of view
I would like to learn more about the following topics…
    • What are the smaller organizations out there doing the work that aren’t in the headlines every day
    • Would like to learn what the collective of the cohort knows about social issues and what they are passionate about
    • Anti-Black/Indigenous racism and the systemic issues driving them. Ways to help communities from our homes other than money
    • Getting guidance on how to take what we’re hearing from the BTC webinars and community orgs and making it a more actionable part of our strategic philanthropic journey



Cohort News Flash

To Share: Both related to Mike Prosserman from Vision Next!

To Read: Our Power Moves facilitator – Kofi Hope’s article in The Toronto Star

To Read: Our Vision Next cohort member – Stefan Palios’ article on Vision 2020 cohort member, Vipan Nikore

To Share: Vision Next Facebook Group:

To Share: This blog has been making the rounds so we wanted to share it as well:

To Share: A virtual conference and digital resource hub on equity, inclusion and justice shared by Vision Next Fundholder, Bonnie Shepherd:


POWER MOVES (February 18, 2020)


At our second Vision Next session at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, we further explored the fundamentals of the New Philanthropy. In particular, we discussed how we all hold power and privilege in our lives and how we can be mindful of both as we engage in our philanthropy and as leaders for social change.

Key Objectives

    1. Doing a deeper dive into the New Philanthropy – particularly Power Sharing
    2. Learning more about the philanthropic landscape
    3. Continuing to get to know each other 

Core Content


Sharon provided some upfront context including:

    • There is an inherent power imbalance that exists between donors with money and the nonprofits who receive that money.
    • How influential the book, New Power, has been for her personally and for TF and how it is a core component of our New Philanthropy approach.
    • How central it is for everyone, who wants to engage in philanthropy differently, to understand their power and privilege. And in particular, when connecting or partnering with small and medium sized community organizations, grassroots leaders, people with lived experience.
    • Download the PowerPoint presentation from the event.

Our facilitator, Kofi Hope, then added additional context and took the group through a series of activities to understand how one’s Identity connects to their Power and Privilege and how this intersects with their Philanthropy. This included:

    • The What’s In a Name ice breaker – people shared with a partner, the history of their name and their experience living with that name.
    • Everyone completed an Identity Wheel activity and then shared their thoughts with a partner using some reflective questions.
    • A moderated panel further unpacked this topic, including discussing the impact their own identity has had on their social change work and how identity and power both positively and negatively impacts their work. The panel included:

Key Takeaways

    • Noella: Diversity on boards is imperative as fresh eyes will see situations that others cannot. Example: When I was on the board at the Ontario Science Centre I was the only one who noticed kids from Flemingdon Park playing in the parking lot and bothered to ask whether they had been inside the building. They had not. So I proposed we fundraise to get them inside and the board supported that idea.
    • Rickesh: There is an undeniable power dynamic when you are a funder. Articulate that you are coming to the table because you already believe in the work of the org. Come to the table as a partner – the community has the solutions.
    • Kofi: Sometimes community partners do not feel they can be honest if a funded program was not successful. We need to change that power dynamic.
    • Bryan: Indigenous peoples don’t have numbers to go up against power structures. We need allies.

Some of you may have seen this before but part of the panel discussion, prompted by cohort member David Toyne’s question, reminded us of this great TED Talk by Dan Palotta where he talks about charity and why it’s important to not ignore the value of overhead.

Kofi’s Thoughts:

To work with communities you first need to understand your own identity and privilege. Two takeaways for being mindful of privilege when granting (it’s an orientation to practice):

    • It’s all about relationships – it’s hard to have empathy about a concept. Be focused on human relationships. You’ll begin to see when power creates barriers. Parts of your identity might create barriers.
    • Step back from your day and think about how power played out. Who spoke? Who did you call on for input? Sometimes these biases are not conscious ones. To break those subconscious biases, you need to step back and critically think about whether someone else’s identity impacted how you perceived them.
The Group’s Thoughts: 
    • Everyone wrote down one thing they can do to be mindful of their power and privilege and to be a true ally as they engage in their philanthropy. Here’s a snapshot of what people wrote.

Feedback from Attendees

What I liked best:
    • Examples provided by speakers that helped to solidify learning about identity, power and privilege. I also really enjoyed the interactive activities.
    • The stories. The vulnerability. The format. The exercises.
    • The ‘circles’ exercise was very illuminating. This is the first time I thought about identity in this way — my perception vs. external perception — and how I can learn more about this to be more effective in my community.
    • Getting a chance to see diversity in philanthropy from multiple different lenses and to get an understanding of what other people have gone through and still go through.
    • This is exactly what I hoped it would be, and more! Great ice breaker topic. It felt like a safe space to share.
What I liked least:
    • Would have liked more facilitated time to connect with different cohort members.
    • A bit more time spent on talking – providing examples on how power can positively and negatively impact funding and charitable work.
    • Not having the opportunity to pre-submit questions to the panel.



Cohort News Flash

Event: EPIC Meet Ups – Board Matching Event (shared by Mike Prosserman – Vision Next)

Looking For: Habitat for Humanity trip paticipants to El Salvador (shared by Louise Mahlhotra – Vision Next AND trip lead)

To Share: Maytree – Five Good Ideas about building power for change. The video of the presentation is posted online.

    • Our cities are becoming increasingly unaffordable and income inequality is widening faster than ever before. People, communities, and an entire generation are being squeezed out. The decisions made in the halls of power can either take us down a more progressive path or deepen the divide. Unfortunately, many decision-makers are removed from the day-to-day experiences of the people they represent. So how can we influence and shape the decisions being made? What power do we have to create meaningful change and transform our cities? In this Five Good Ideas session, Michal Hay, founder of Progress Toronto, shares her experiences on building power, winning, and making change. She offers five good ideas for building democratic power to win.


BASE CAMP (January 22, 2020)


At our Vision Next Base Camp event, we welcomed our 2nd cohort of new philanthropists to Toronto Foundation! This kick-off event was designed to introduce everyone to the program and to each other and to pave the way for the year-long learning journey ahead.

Key Objectives

  1. Getting clarity on what we’ll be learning this year
  2. Sharing an overview of the current philanthropic landscape
  3. Discussing our approach – the New Philanthropy
  4. Getting to know each other

Core Content


Aneil Gokhale, Director, Philanthropy, welcomed everyone to Base Camp and reviewed our Vision Next program goal – A city of informed, engaged philanthropists making meaningful change for all. He then shared our overall program learning objectives and guiding principles and our specific learning objectives for the night.

Sharon Avery, President and CEO, extended her own welcome to the new cohort and thanked our sponsor, KPMG, for being instrumental in making Vision Next happen. She provided some context as to why we started our original learning journey program, Vision 2020, and how this had morphed into Vision Next: namely, we felt there were Torontonians who wanted to engage in philanthropy but wanted to do this differently – to get informed, to learn together and to collaborate.

Aneil then began an overview of the current philanthropic landscape starting with our Misconceptions Video. This was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A on facts and trends around philanthropic giving and other insights on what it’s like to work within this landscape from the community org. and grassroots leader perspective. The panel included:

Having learned some information about the philanthropic landscape, Julia Howell, VP Community Engagement and Sara Krynitzki, Manager, Community Initiatives, then shared the following:

    • Our Why I Give Video
    • Where Toronto Foundation fits into the philanthropic landscape
    • The evolution of our Vision, Mission, Values and Purpose
    • Our TF focus on Equity – based on the what was happening in the city
    • What we mean by the New Philanthropy
    • Our suggestions around good granting practices

Here are some of the key Base Camp PowerPoint slides from the evening.

Lisa Grislis, Director, Fundholder Engagement, then spoke about the role her team plays in on-going fundholder support. She also asked the Vision 2020 cohort members who had kindly joined us for the evening to share a key aha from their program and advice on how to get the most out of the Vision Next program – unsurprisingly, their message was to try to meet as many cohort members and attend as many events as possible!


Getting to know each other  including ice breakers and table discussions. The program ended with everyone reflecting on some of their own ahas and identifying a Philanthropic Learning Goal.

Feedback from Attendees

What I liked best:
    • Frank “unvarnished” discussion about state of charitable giving in Canada now.
    • It was a good “dipping your toe” in event that allowed me (an introvert) a great balance of interacting with my peers, but also sitting w my partner and listening to all the speakers — so, it was a comfortable event for me but also prepped me for future events where I’ll be separated from my partner and meeting new people.
    • Range of topics covered and dispelling myths.
    • Hearing from the past cohort and their passion towards their experience and the connections they made.
    • Diversity of experiences and motivations of the people attending.


What I liked least:
    • More opportunities to share would be nice.
    • A bit long.
    • Would be nice to have a bit more time to connect with others and move around.


Other Feedback:
    • The panel was very “real” and helpful.
    • I didn’t have any expectations before coming. It certainly has provided a wider lens on philanthropy. I am looking forward to learning and networking more.



Cohort News Flash

Event: Intersections: Social Impact and Finance (shared by Roz McLean – Vision 2020)

Looking For: Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Volunteers (Allison Meserve – Vision 2020)

      • Filing taxes is one of the most important things a person living on low income can do. A single parent in Ontario can boost their income by 50%, through benefits and credits available following filing. Unfortunately, there are substantial barriers to tax filing for some individuals. Many non-profits provide free tax filing support through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). From now through May, these organizations are in need of volunteers – both tax experts and those willing to provide supporting roles. (many organizations will only provide a few tax clinics during this time.) Most of the orgs don’t advertise on CRA’s website because they are already at capacity for clients. But, when you register to be a volunteer through CRA you will receive a list of orgs in Toronto looking for volunteers. Or contact an organization you already work with to see if they provide these services! It’s an incredible short-term volunteer opportunity. For more info, contact Shauna at Toronto Foundation, and she’ll connect you to Allison.

Looking For: Summer Employment Placements (Heela Omarkhail – Vision 2020)

      • Moving Towards Opportunity (MTO) is a youth employment program within Regent Park, a neighbourhood where many residents, youth in particular, face barriers to securing meaningful employment.  Following a series of pre-employment and capacity building workshops in preparation for summer employment within the corporate, not for profit and institutional sectors, MTO students in grades 11 & 12 are placed in an 8-week paid summer employment placement.  The employment placements are entry level roles focused on administrative tasks, data entry, project support, etc. MTO is looking for summer employment placements for July through August 2020. For more info, contact Shauna at Toronto Foundation, and she’ll connect you to Heela.

Looking For: Prom Dresses and Formal Wear (Sonia Dong – Vision Next)

      • I’m organizing a prom drive to donate good condition, clean and modern dresses and formal wear to New Circles, a nonprofit organization that provides clothing, employment training and settlement services for low income individuals and families as well as refugees/newcomers to Canada. For the past several years, my company Henkaa has been donating dresses and organizing prom drive collections and this year I am spearheading it myself. The dresses and formal wear will be added to New Circles’ Glow Boutique so that young people who otherwise may not have the opportunity can do so. I will be collecting items from now until April 15. I have a target of 100 dresses/suits – I hope you can help me make this happen! For more info, contact Shauna at Toronto Foundation, and she’ll connect you to Sonia.

Needed / Looking For: DiverseCity Fellows (Aneil Gokhale – Toronto Foundation and Vision 2020)

      • Applications are now open for the 2020 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellows program.
      • Aneil participated in this program back in 2009 and other Vision 2020 alumni and current Vision Next participants have also participated. All speak very highly of the opportunity. Think of it as a “Civic MBA”.