Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives

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On an evening in April 2013, the Boards of the Richmond Community Foundation and Volunteer Richmond Information Services met in a conference room at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel. It was there that Community Foundation Chair Sylvia Gwozd and Volunteer Richmond President Lawrie Portigal signed a collaborative agreement, one that would see our organizations working more closely together, sharing resources and, we believe, a future.

It wasn’t a step we took lightly at the Community Foundation. Three years of planning were involved. We even joined Volunteer Richmond in commissioning a feasibility study, which included a public consultation process. We wanted to be sure we were doing the right thing. We wanted to be sure that, by collaborating with Volunteer Richmond, we’d be able to broaden our impact in the community.

The study indicated that a formal framework for cooperation would benefit both organizations, and, more importantly, Richmond as a whole. So we put pen to paper.

One change happened almost immediately: Volunteer Richmond’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Specht, was named Executive Director of the Community Foundation as well. We were confident that Elizabeth, with nearly 30 years of experience in the non-profit sector, had the vision and leadership skills to guide the collaborative in the near term, and, in the longer term, transform it into a game changing community initiative.

Still, we wondered – were we on the right track? That question was answered in June 2013, when Elizabeth and Sylvia attended the Community Foundations of Canada National Conference, in Winnipeg. The speakers there, including Governor General David Johnston, offered variations on the same message: if organizations are to do more with what they have, they’ll need to rely on creativity, collaboration, experimentation, and even “disruptive innovation.” It was a validation of the project on which the Community Foundation and Volunteer Richmond had embarked.

Elizabeth and Sylvia returned from the conference knowing that what we had set in motion in Richmond may well become a model for others to follow. More and more organizations would be working together to identify efficiencies; reduce the duplication of costs and services; and enhance organizational effectiveness.

With renewed confidence, we were ready once again to move forward. The first step, we decided, was a name, as calling ourselves The Collaborative, which we’d briefly taken to doing, was woefully unimaginative. We needed something that better represented our overall vision and spoke to the role we wanted to play in the community. It didn’t come to us right away, but when it did, it was a unanimous choice: Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives.

The Richmond Community Foundation and Volunteer Richmond Information Services remain separate entities. But it’s through Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives that we’ve found common ground, a vehicle through which our organizational strengths can be leveraged to the greatest effect.

Together, our goal is to lead and catalyze initiatives that will transform the giving landscape in Richmond – the giving of both volunteer time and financial resources.

That’s the story so far, but it’s one, we assure you, that’s just getting started.


The Future Home of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives
Neighbourhood Small Grants

Every Step An Adventure – A Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives Timeline

Forever Richmond Presentation – October 21, 2014
Volunteer Richmond Information Services