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Ten years on – transition time for Give Green Canada

One of Give Green Canada’s resources, the G2 Toolkit “Jumpstart Your Gift Planning Today.”

One of Give Green Canada’s resources, the G2 Toolkit “Jumpstart Your Gift Planning Today.”

Back in 2008, a project known as “Green Legacies” started up on the Tides Canada shared platform.

A few years earlier, thanks to generous funding*, the founders of Green Legacies published A Donor’s Guide for BC: Green Legacies. The Guide served as a practical resource for professional advisors, donors, and environmental non-governmental organizations (eNGOs), with a specific focus on legacy and gift planning for the environment. It was the first-ever publication of its type, not only in Canada, but worldwide.

It quickly became apparent that more support was needed beyond providing a Guide. Small and medium eNGO groups were struggling to achieve financial stability, even as public awareness of their work grew. While the environmental sector was implementing more sophisticated research, education, and conservation campaigns, fundraising for environmental outcomes lagged behind. Established fundraising tools like legacies and gift planning remained uncommon amongst all but the largest environmental groups.

Simply put, they were not in a state of readiness to seize the opportunity of the current intergenerational transition of wealth, and risked being left behind other charitable sectors such as health and education.

Scaling up

In 2009, the Green Legacies project expanded its scope nationally and was renamed Give Green Canada (G2). Natasha van Bentum, CFRE was brought on board to create a distance-learning course for the benefit of eNGOs across the country who did not have the resources to hire gift planning staff.

Known as the “G2 Toolkit,” the course is graciously hosted by Royal Roads University and considered to be “the best publicly-accessible source on ecological gifts and planned gifts in Canada” (according to Malcolm Burrows, philanthropic advisor).

Natasha was hired as Project Director the following year and quickly rolled out training and mentoring to dozens of eNGOs in BC, Alberta, and Ontario to help them jumpstart legacy programs. These mentorships and training were made possible thanks to capacity-building support from funders such as Environment Canada, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Vancity Community Foundation, and others.

You can read both print and electronic guides and resources, visit websites, but without a trained eye and hand to guide you, it is easy to get lost. This G2 mentorship opportunity played a very important role. – Joan Bell, Hamilton Conservation Foundation

It should be on the shelf of every concerned donor and philanthropic advisor. – Frank Minton, about the Green Legacies Guide

Keeping in mind its mission was also to help professional advisors, in 2015 A Donor’s Guide for BC: Green Legacies was updated (in collaboration with Land Trust Alliance of BC), followed by a new chapter on Foodland and Farmland, thanks to funding from the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, Real Estate Foundation of BC, and Vancouver Foundation.

This month a Supplement to the Guide was also published, again thanks to the Law Foundation BC. The full Guide and Supplement can be downloaded here.

Looking back

As a result of the work of G2 and others, today almost every eNGO across the country is aware of the importance of gift planning, specifically legacies, and several now have staff whose mandate includes focus in this area.

Thousands of donors, hundreds of professional advisors, and several hundred environmental organizations have benefitted from access to G2’s freely-available resources, resulting in making all parties more comfortable and knowledgeable when considering and discussing green giving. Most importantly, this work has translated into many millions of dollars of bequest revenue going to environmental conservation.

However, despite this progress, many in the environmental sector still struggle with the fundraising aspects of their work. Financial stability remains a moving target and source of stress for many of those who work to protect Canada’s wild spaces.

Looking ahead

Currently, G2 is winding down at Tides Canada but starting in 2018, G2 will live on with Natasha available on a consulting or honorarium basis to advise NGOs on their legacy and outreach programs. She will also maintain all of G2’s helpful resources and continue to make them publicly available.

“Tides Canada is an exceptional organization and its shared platform is an outstanding model of accelerating change and impact,” says Natasha. “As I’ve had to focus more on family responsibilities in the past two years, it is a logical time to transition the project and work within a more informal structure and yet continue to advise individuals and organizations independently. Having acquired its brand and assets, Give Green Canada will migrate with me and carry on.”

Here at Tides Canada, we are proud of the work accomplished by Natasha, G2, and long-time Steering Committee members like Gretchen Harlow, David Love, and Pierre Valiquette. “Thanks for a decade of great work, Natasha and G2. It has been an absolute pleasure working alongside you to further the important work of G2,” says Allison Andrachuk, Director, Shared Platform. “We wish you all the best with your new direction and we will be cheering you on.”

For G2 inquiries, Natasha can be contacted by email at vanbentum@gmail.com.

*Original funders of the Guide were the Government of Canada, the Government of BC, the Law Foundation of BC, MEC, Nature BC, Real Estate Foundation of BC, Tides Canada, Vancouver Foundation, and Wildlife Habitat Canada.

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