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Vital signs and your philanthropy

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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Vital Signs and Your Philanthropy

If reading this report is agitating — and you want to do something about it — might we humbly make three suggestions on how you could take action:

1
Elevate Grassroots Leadership
These leaders and organizations work in Toronto’s communities facing the greatest challenges and need greater spotlight and support to continue their vital work.
  • Read the letter from community leaders to Torontonians to understand why grassroots leadership is key to fighting inequality in our city.
  • Get to know the Local Champions of the Centre for Connected Communities. These leaders go through a one year capacity building program designed to provide them with the tools to influence the systems that affect their communities.
  • Support their programs and initiatives through participation, funding, and recognition.
  • Include and advocate for their presence and perspectives to be at key decision making tables.
  • Community organizations can apply to the Toronto’s Vital Signs Grants – aimed at surfacing and supporting high-impact organizations and their visionary leaders working to tackle our city’s inequities.
2
Use Your Platform
Have you cultivated a public platform? Consider using it to educate and engage your followers with the critical issues in our city – share what really speaks to you.
  • Feature your perspective on Vital Signs on your podcast, blog, newsletter, or social media. Be sure to let us know so we can highlight and share your content.
  • Forward the report to your colleagues, association members, subscribers etc. and highlight how it’s relevant to your group.
  • Do you have a high traffic office or waiting room? Request a print copy for display.
  • Have an interesting idea? We’d love to collaborate on content.
3
Disrupt Your Giving Patterns
Philanthropy needs all of us. If you take one thing away from this report it should be this: there are grassroots organizations and leaders working on effective solutions to the critical issues exacerbating inequality in our city – and they need greater spotlight and support. And while we know that philanthropy isn’t the silver bullet, we also know that it can go where government sometimes can’t. Here’s how you can add small to medium sized organizations to your annual giving:
  • Pick an issue area from the report that you care about and give to grassroots organizations working on the ground. Consider the organization’s highlighted in Vital Signs and in Toronto Foundation’s annual Good to Give Guide.
  • Many issues are interconnected – for example if you are concerned with the diminishing opportunities and quality of life of young people consider giving to initiatives advocating to make post-secondary tuition more affordable.
  • Learn more about how to develop your philanthropic strategy to align your giving with your personal values. Decide how you will distribute your funds in the long and short term to meet your philanthropic goals
4
Civic Engagement
To influence change, action is imperative. Look for ways to participate and have your voice heard.
  • Exercise your right to vote at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Use this report and other sources to learn about the issues you care about and ask our leaders about how they plan to build a Toronto that is prosperous for everyone.
  • Volunteer your skills and time to community organizations and initiatives that are working on developing and delivering solutions to the critical issues in our city.
  • Mobilize! If there’s an issue that is underserved or needs more awareness in your area spearhead a petition, initiative, or neighbourhood meeting. Building a more equitable Toronto involves all of us.
5
TALK, SHARE & CHALLENGE
We are all experts of our own experience, but it’s important to learn from others. Understanding how others experience the city helps foster empathy, understanding, and inclusive city building.
  • Make the time and effort to connect with others in your community and expand your personal circle.
  • Learn about what’s on the minds of your fellow Torontonians. How are others being impacted by current events, political announcements, funding etc.?
  • Share your own perspective based on your experience. Your voice is important too.
  • Use what you learn to challenge your perspective and the status quo that is contributing to growing inequality, especially for vulnerable groups.
6
Be Informed
We live in a 24 hours new cycle that can be overwhelming, but it’s important to be aware of the events and trends that are shaping our city in the present, and the future implications.
  • Expand the sources you get your news from. Reading and listening to a variety of publications and mediums can help inform a more nuanced and intersectional understanding of the issues impacting our city.
  • Connect to community organizations to get an “on the ground” perspective that is often not reported in mass media. Subscribe to their newsletters, follow them on social media, or attend their events.
  • Attend community events such as consultations, town halls, and open houses, to learn more about issues, proposed policies and solutions, and opportunities to engage.
Resources

Toronto Foundation’s most recent edition of Good to Give — our curated guide to donation-ready organizations, projects, and social enterprises in our community

Canadahelps.org — a non-profit organization with an online platform, featuring thousands of grassroots, high-impact community based registered charities

Let us all come together to build a city that works for everyone.