Building a movement where we all belong

Strengthening the connections between people in our network, the communities they call home and the values we share is part of what makes us stronger together.

Every year, new team members join community foundations, and as they come on board we share tools and resources to support foundation development, we invite staff to participate in learning opportunities, and we coach foundation leaders as they encounter the inevitable challenges of day-to-day operations.

But this year we wanted to go a step further to welcome those joining our pan-Canadian network.

To set the scene… picture yourself sitting on a dock, feet dipped into the water and the sun shining brightly on your face.

Over the course of two days in June, Community Foundations of Canada hosted 17 ‘rookies’ at a special gathering for new community foundation staff. It was the first time a gathering such as this was held. We wanted to bring people together for a unique opportunity to connect, (re)energize and learn more about our work as a movement.

The gathering took place on the beautiful Wasan Island in the heart of Ontario’s Muskoka region. Our Wasan hosts were the Breuninger Foundation, a German non-profit with a long-standing connection to community foundations that has welcomed organizations from all around the world for various retreats and gatherings. It’s a remarkable venue and an exceptional opportunity to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday work.

This gathering brought together various community foundation team members, from support staff to program coordinators to senior leaders. We were also joined by a few seasoned veterans — Terry Cooke from the Hamilton Community Foundation and Tracy Van Kaslbeek from the Stratford Perth Community Foundation — who shared their experience, wisdom and a few stories of their own community foundation adventures.

This time together provided a chance to step away from everyday work, meet some new friends and engage in a series of exercises that explored what’s next for community philanthropy and reflect on personal leadership journeys. Most importantly, it was a time to warmly welcome new team members to the community foundation family.

Perhaps most inspiring was what people took away from our time together:

  • “This is a wonderful opportunity to become immersed in the movement and make awesome connections!
  • “It’s a great opportunity to kick-start your introduction into the movement and community foundation family. You will learn lots about what Community Foundations of Canada can do for you and what other community foundations are doing across the country – big and small!”
  • “I think this is the first time since starting with the foundation that I have had time to reflect on my role – in what we are doing in my team but also on the entirety of the foundation movement and the bigger purpose.”
  • “This was a great opportunity to learn about the community foundation movement, what opportunities are on the horizon, meet colleagues from across Canada to learn, share, network and understand that we are all in this together.”
  • “The two-days are very impactful—while you pause, you reflect and you are re-energized. You learn a lot about yourself as an individual and as a leader.”

We often use #YouMakeYourCommunity when writing about the work of community foundations. After spending time with these newest team members, there is no doubt that they too will be catalysts: contributing their incredible talents, ideas and leadership to their community foundation and community. Our movement  just got infused with a whole lot of good.

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