This text is part of the special section Philanthropy
For the past few years, private foundations here have been collaborating more and more with each other, sometimes even joining public organizations, to carry out actions on a larger scale. A movement watched with attention elsewhere in Canada.
“When I joined the Centraide of Greater Montreal Foundation in 2012, this intention to collaborate was already emerging,” recalls Lili-Anna Pereša, President and CEO of the McConnell Foundation. It turned out to be useful and important for many reasons, in particular because of the major economic upheavals experienced in Montreal following the Charbonneau commission. This momentum also owed a lot to Jacques Ménard, former president of the Bank of Montreal, who had brought together philanthropic actors from the public and private sectors to finance a major national project to fight against school dropout. “It created a synergy,” recalls Mme Peresa.
Together, the little train goes further
This desire to work in partnership has accelerated in recent years to resolve philanthropic issues such as hunger, poverty or ecology, observes Daniel Asselin, senior director of philanthropic development at the Fondation de l’Université de Sherbrooke. “The actors come together around the same objective to make a difference, it’s very interesting”, he rejoices.
The pandemic has prompted many private foundations to work together, notes, meanwhile, the president and CEO of the Foundation of Greater Montreal, Karel Mayrand. Same as the 375e anniversary of Montreal, adds Mme Peresa. “For the Collective Impact Project in 2016, nine private foundations worked with the City of Montreal and actors in the field to reduce poverty by supporting the vision and action plans adopted by neighborhood citizens. Everyone had to put their personal interests out to focus on the common goal, ”she says, while emphasizing that this experience allowed the different players to get to know each other better. “Despite the complexity of the process, we have learned to trust each other. There have been ups and downs, but we have all seen that the little train goes further when we are together,” she says.
For the CEO of the McConnell Foundation, this collaborative approach “is alive and relevant and it will continue. Not a day goes by that I don’t speak to another foundation or organization, ”notes the one for whom this phenomenon is particular in Quebec. “Other cities and foundations are watching what is happening with us. For example, we have set up the network of the Collective of Quebec Foundations Against Social Inequalities, which is unique in Canada. They are curious and seek inspiration,” she says.
A proactive approach
At the Trottier Foundation, this collaborative momentum is accompanied by a change of focus. “We still practice the traditional approach that I call ‘reactive’ when a hospital, for example, solicits a foundation, which writes a check to support a specific need, explains its general manager, Éric St-Pierre. Alongside these responses to ad hoc requests, we drew inspiration from other more proactive foundations,” he says. Faced with major challenges such as climate change, the Trottier Foundation wonders how it can contribute to the solution and seeks to launch new initiatives.
“We awarded 175 grants in 2022. But we also want to go further by initiating consultation, bringing several foundations to work together and building relationships with governments, industry, universities and even citizens”, illustrates Mr. St-Pierre. The Trottier Foundation, for example, has launched a partnership that includes the City of Montreal and other Canadian and international actors to help the city establish one of the most ambitious municipal climate plans in Canada. In the wake of this momentum, it has just participated in the second edition of the Montreal Climate Summit to accelerate climate action in the metropolis by 2030.
This special content was produced by the Special Publications team of the Duty, relating to marketing. The drafting of Duty did not take part.