It seems only appropriate that within Canada's most corporate city, the Toronto Community Foundation would be recognized for getting down to business. On Sept. 23, about two weeks before TCF released its flagship publication on the state of the city, the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals awarded TCF its "Outstanding Foundation" honor.
Somewhere between accepting congratulations and speaking about the report, TCF President and CEO Rahul K. Bhardwaj took the time to explain more about the organization with a unique business model — which essentially works as a "back-office" and financial steward for donors who create their own endowment funds — and how TCF works to improve the quality of life for Toronto residents.
FundRaising Success: What aspect of TCF's work do you believe earned the organization the Outstanding Foundation award and why?
Rahul K. Bhardwaj: It has everything to do with our community-development model and community leadership, which allow us to connect philanthropy with public and private partners to collectively build a better Toronto.
We begin by taking the pulse of the city through our Toronto's Vital Signs Report. The report is a consolidated snapshot examining issue areas that are critical to the well-being of our city and its residents.
With our unique position as an independent public foundation, we are then able to mobilize hundreds of individual and family donors who are members of our foundation family, high-impact community organizations and cross-sector leaders to tackle complex quality-of-life issues identified in Toronto's Vital Signs in creative and inspiring ways.
FS: Pathways to Education Canada nominated TCF for the award. How, for example, do TCF's efforts benefit that organization?
RB: In addition to the grants we issue each year on behalf of our fundholders, we have three grant programs of our own, one of which is called Vital Ideas. Pathways to Education Canada received two Vital Ideas grants from us, once in 2005 and again in 2007, in support of its education programs targeting youth from the disadvantaged communities of Regent Park, Rexdale and Lawrence Heights.