Lifting up Calgarians so they have fulfilled, successful lives

Guy Mallabone of Global Philanthropic Canada talks about how donors have evolved and expectations around giving have changed

Guy Mallabone is president and CEO of Global Philanthropic Canada.

Guy Mallabone

What is Global Philanthropic and what does it do?

Mallabone: Global Philanthropic Canada is a full-service national fundraising consultancy. That means we help non-profit organizations understand how to raise philanthropic support.

We help build capacity by teaching the art and science of aligning organizational mission with what donors care about; that’s the sweet spot. And we do that through a series of steps that help organizations understand how well positioned they are to inspire support:

  • Do they have a strong vision and leadership around the impact they can create?
  • Do they have the internal culture and systems to be successful?
  • Is their staff well trained?
  • What are their relationships like with their current donors?
  • Is there a solid volunteer development program in place?
  • What is their market position and their clear value proposition?

Head-officed in Calgary, we have a network of 11 offices across the country staffed by senior consultants who are all experienced practitioners: they know what it takes to run successful fundraising campaigns and they work closely with our clients to develop customized solutions.

When and why was this business established?

Mallabone: Global Philanthropic in the U.K. was established in 2002 to address the growing need for professional counsel to guide the increasing size of fundraising campaigns. I established the Canadian arm of the business in 2010 and quickly realized there was a growing need across the country to support our colleagues in both large and small organizations raise more money for mission.

The business has grown very quickly and in 2017 we became an independently owned organization in Canada. We still work closely with our international partners, and we share expertise and collaborate when possible, but all our business decisions are made in Canada to address our specific marketplace.

What has been the impact of the tough economic times on philanthropy in the city?

Mallabone: Right across the country, tough economic times have hit non-profit organizations hard. And this is from a couple of perspectives.

First, as government revenues shrink, the responsibility to support social services and other non-profits is being offloaded more and more to organizations. Long gone are the days when government grants were enough to sustain service providers. So many longstanding organizations are facing the reality, for the first time, that they need to generate revenue in order to deliver their much-needed programs and services. This has been a tough transition for many.

Secondly, on the donor side, tough times means belt-tightening for philanthropists, too. At $100 a barrel oil, it was much easier to generate larger sustained gifts because money was free flowing. Now, donors and funders are more cautious and demanding more from non-profits. What I mean by that is there is a keen eye on developing systemic solutions to social problems, so charitable duplication of efforts is under tighter scrutiny. Non-profits must be efficient and effective, with clearly demonstrable impact, to win donor support.

Why is philanthropy important in a city like Calgary?

Mallabone: Calgary has always had a can-do attitude. We attack problems head on. Think about the community response to the 2013 flood: strangers helped strangers in any way they could to look after each other. To remediate homes and pick up the pieces of shattered lives. That’s a powerful statement about this city: we leave no one behind.

Philanthropy is critical in that process: we need to ensure the ongoing viability of programs and services that lift up Calgarians to live fulfilled, successful lives. Whether that’s access to the right medical services or a quality education or mental health programs or arts and cultural opportunities that enrich our lives, it is philanthropic support that drives these important pillars of our community and makes Calgary the greatest city in the world. Without philanthropy, it would be a pretty dismal place to live.

I was in conversation a few years ago with a business associate who lamented that today’s business executives aren’t like the old guard in Calgary who have given quite generously to the city over the years. What are your thoughts on that?

Mallabone: There is no question that philanthropic giving has changed over the years and it has to do with evolving donor expectations. In the 1990s, donors gave to an institution. They contributed to a hospital or a university and that was enough. There was a broad scope of understanding and desire around how philanthropic support helped build the community.

Twenty years ago there was a shift, and donors began to favour supporting a project rather than an institution. So we started to see donors support a cancer wing in a hospital, or an engineering school, or an international development project. Donors began to narrow their focus; to zero in on the things they really care about.

Now, we see an even narrower definition of donor focus and it’s on impact. Donors want to know exactly how their gift will be used and how it will improve the lives of the people it is meant to support. You still see generous support from the business community but it is demonstrated now in much different ways.

– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business


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