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Philanthropy Day 2019

Raissa Espiritu

Raissa Espiritu

Director of Partnerships

In 2012, an Act was passed in the House of Commons declaring that “Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the 15th day of November shall be known as National Philanthropy Day.” 

This is, of course, a day close to the heart of our Director of Partnerships Raissa Espiritu, who has crafted a career dedicated to providing growth and opportunity for various institutions. Raissa is taking the opportunity today to reflect on what philanthropy means to her, and why CSI’s affiliate charity Social Innovation Institute is the perfect place for philanthropic investment. 

There are these notions that philanthropy is something practiced by the super wealthy. Even in fundraising we often find ourselves focusing our celebrations on really big gifts; those are the ones we make announcements about.

But I don’t care if all you are able to give is a single dollar. If you want to donate that dollar to something because you think it will help, I’m happy to take it and use it to make the world better.

I appreciate every single person who gives to the Social Innovation Institute (SII). We are aiming to use social innovation to eliminate poverty, improve the efficiency, and effectiveness of Canadian registered charities, and to advance education by providing workshops and conferences on social innovation, research, and similar topics.

Those goals are lofty and transformational, and we’re going to need a lot of help to get there.

Our donors come to us from all sorts of different sectors, with a wide range of history and context in the social innovation movement. We have a passionate community of members like long-serving or Emeritus Board Members who give to us every year without fail. They’ve known about SII and the work that CSI has been doing for a long time. They know we are doing this work in order to create a place where people can connect with each other in a very purposeful and intentional way.

Other donors might be entirely new to the concept of social innovation, which can be very large thing to explain to someone! I work with these donors to create an entry point. Their first donation might be to a program that connects quite strongly with a very specific sectoral focus, and then they’ll come to see the larger picture. Which is to say, maybe their first interaction with SII will be giving millions of dollars because they’re very interested in our capacity to build networks, and then together we will scale up their involvement towards large programs. For example, we were thrilled when Climate Ventures recently received a large donation from RBC in the form of $600,000 over three years for accelerating freshwater and climate tech solutions.

I feel very lucky to work in a place that is committed to high-quality social justice, social innovation, social enterprise, and putting people and planet first. I love that people support CSI, and our affiliate charity SII, to help us develop programs that will further teach people how they could not only be entrepreneurs, but entrepreneurs whose business is focused on something like decreasing the amount of single use plastics. I’m so proud that we help accelerate the journey of new Canadians to figure out how to best leverage their skills and connect to people in a community. We know that the next step will see them leveraging those skills and start to be able to raise funding on their own.

We are all about creating what we might call ‘islands of sanity’. This is what we hope to see across Toronto, and we would love to extend this beyond Ontario, to every single province.

I do this work because social innovation is a way of life. It’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of doing right.

If you’re interested in learning more or donating to our affiliate charity, the Social Innovation Institute, you can do so here.

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