Donna Ziegler leads the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation team as its Executive Director.
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She understands the importance of stewarding relationships between donors and charities and the importance of philanthropy in building community. Donna holds a Master of Communications from Royal Roads University, and is a Associate Certified Coach. She’s worked in the charitable and non-profit sectors, and served as an elected school board member for two decades.
She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, International Association of Business Communicators, and the International Coach Federation. She has 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren and she enjoys taking her furry friends, a labradoodle and maltese poodle, on daily walks.
Want to catch up with the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sscf.ca/
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/south-saskatchewan-community-foundation/about/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/SouthSaskFDN
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBb_d5OplUCmzAkIH8y807g
Website – https://sscf.ca/
Today’s guest is the head honcho of the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation. What the heck is a community foundation? You know, honestly, until I started talking to Donna and her team, I had no clue. But boy, has it been a steep learning curve for me.
Donna has been with the foundation for about three years. But she spent the majority of her career in either the charity or the nonprofit sector. This is a busy lady folks, the fact that we pinned her down for 25 minutes to talk to her, like, Wow, I feel so important right now. So first off, Donna, thank you so much for being here.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Absolutely. I can’t wait to learn more about you and the foundation. Now of course it is you’re such a busy lady, you are a so actively involved in the community, the coaching Federation, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, tell me a little bit about what drives you what keeps Donna going on a daily basis.
So really interesting, thank you for asking, I am a lifelong learner. So I like to keep up to date on what’s happening in community, what’s happening in these organizations, the ones that, you know, I find, for me personally, to be interesting along with my career. And so I’m always looking for opportunities to learn and to understand from others, and then to help others as well, if I know something that I can share with them. So I like being involved. And I, you know, I think that it’s helped me throughout my entire life. But I’ve always been like that. And I hope to pass some of that to my kids too. They become capes.
That is fantastic. When I read through your bio, when I was getting ready for our show today, the word that jumped out at me or the word that came to mind to describe you, you are a contributor, you look to give back to your community, I suspect your friends, your family. It’s how you’re driven, isn’t it, Donna?
Yes, that’s very interesting. I haven’t thought of it that way. But I do like to not just myself, but I like to offer it I have something to offer. I like to help others and help them understand help me community. It’s just the way you’re built. Sometimes I think and perhaps the way you’re brought up, or you know, so you just kind of have that innately that desire continue to pay forward.
Yes, absolutely. So let me ask you this question, then. How do you balance your time, because I know for people, other other friends and family than I know that direct giver by nature, you also have to find that balance so that you can recharge. So how do you do that? How do you balance?
Really good question Barb. And lots of times, we don’t even like to think about that. Because it actually puts you into a zone that you have to slow down and think about how you’re recharging. But what I do know is that if you do not recharge yourself, you’re not good for others.
And you don’t you know, you’re showing others that it’s important to take care of yourself so that you can be that person for other whether it’s community or people or family. So I really like to look at I’ve always looked at work life balance to I, you know, I like to I like work, I’ve always liked work.
But I know that family life is also important. And so I really try to balance those pieces. I don’t think my children would say that things are done by because it wasn’t for my husband, we’ve always made sure that we were present. Yes, one for sure. And, you know, because I have a good support system, and was able to engage in community. And that really matters as well.
My husband helps children all the time. And he’s coached and you know, and I was able to follow a few of my dreams, which was going back to school and work and different things. So you learn how to balance I love enacting mindfulness into my day, being grateful, you know, using a journal to to learn about yourself and the things that you’re grateful for. It completely slows down your day, especially in the morning. And it yes, it makes you more mindful of what you’re doing.
Yes, absolutely. I actually took a mindfulness class from from a local business here. And when I started the class, I was kind of thinking yeah, I don’t know like, but by the end, I loved Oh, Joanne did such a wonderful job in that class. And we actually did a retreat at the end at the university. And I remember walking around, and being able to enjoy kicking water in puddles. Like I hadn’t since I was a kid, like, how cool is kicking water, and I had no kids with me. So I like got tic tic. And it was awesome. Right?
So, you know, we don’t take enough time. We’re busy, right? That is that word. I don’t even like that word easy. But if you can press in the things that you’re doing, yes, that’s most important. And I remember once I was with somebody, and they said, I was talking to my inner function, and I said, Oh, they asked me how my week was going. And I said, this is about 10 years ago.
And I said, you know, I just can’t wait for the week to be done. It’s been a long week, he looked at me. And they said, Not Ever wish a moment away? Yes. Take the time you need present with it. Others would, in a in a second, I want to trade you places. That’s right. So you know, that’s what I’ve learned. You enjoy where you’re at, and be present with what you’re doing.
I don’t know where I first heard that. But when my kids were little, and we had to at the same time, we had an infant and a toddler because we we had a child and we adopted a child.
So we were instant parents literally just add water. And we were parents. But I remember thinking, I didn’t want to wish time away, because I knew inherently how precious that time was. And and I still have to remind myself of that now that they’re teens, sometimes I do. Okay, I can’t wait till we get through this phase.
But I was so cognizant of it when they were little, because that time is so precious. And it goes so quick. I know, every new parent hears that, that the time goes quick, and it doesn’t seem like it. But a former supervisor of mine said to me one time, the days are long, the years are short, and I thought that was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Right? It absolutely resonates.
Yeah. Okay, so we were to talk about the foundation, because here we go down my rabbit hole. But tell me about the Community Foundation. What exactly is a foundation? I know you’ve been around for years. And in fact, there are foundations across Canada. So it’s an entire movement. So just kind of give me the skinny on how the heck this all works?
Absolutely. So the basic mandate of a community foundation is to improve the quality of community life, right where you live. And so we’re a charitable endowment organization. And so we’re for the betterment of community forever. So you know, that there’s probably an over 5000 Charities, public, private.
And so there’s so the thing with the Community Foundation, there’s 191 of us, across Canada. And so the Community Foundation is really here to the betterment of community to facilitate the conversations with donors, and have that intent, you know, that is that very important conversation about what the donors goals are, what they you know, what they hope to leave behind?
What kind of a legacy would they like, so facilitating that conversation with experienced staff members, we are not accountants or estate planners or financial planners, but we can help you in your in reaching your goals, if you want to, you know, on those side of things, so it’s really about facilitating the conversation with donors about their philanthropy. Right.
And then it’s them understand what the community need is because the Community Foundation does local research, right? We have vital signs. We have surveys, church charity surveys, you know, we really are connected at the grassroots level or at the ground level with what’s going on in community came so it helps us share that with donors come to the location because they really don’t know where to start.
They know they want to help impact. They know they might want to leave a legacy where they started their business. Notice, or they think they will after I’m gone, I’d like to leave a percentage of my estate to five charities or whatever. Yep.
So that we are able to facilitate those conversations and help them understand what the community need is, which charitable organizations might be affiliated with their, their field or area of focus. Okay, so we were really connected, we’re connected to the charity and nonprofit world. Give them some information, don’t give them advice, but we give them information so they can make a decision.
Right. So in my mind, if I was a philanthropist, and I had the funds to leave behind as a legacy, I could come to you. And, and, and to me, that feels more comfortable. Because if I knock on charities door itself, it almost creates an expectation that, you know, oh, great, Barb’s gonna, you know, leave us in a will or something like that. Or maybe it’s even, you know, a during life donation, where by talking to you, I can make that more comfortable? Possibly I can, you know, spread the wealth, so to speak. Is that a fair statement?
I think that is the thing with the Community Foundation, too, is that we don’t compete with charity, we’re actually kind of if you think about an umbrella, we kind of art that umbrella we give back in 2020, we gave back nearly $10 million. Wow. Get to 225 organizations and charities, and nonprofits. So but our job is really to facilitate the conversation to figure out what the needs are in community. And then how do we try and have more impact?
Exactly. And I love that where you live? You work you live you? Yeah, you’re facilitating those conversations? Absolutely. Can you give us some examples that we might be familiar with that are, you know, prominent in the community.
So one, I want to talk to you just about One really good example. And it sounds, it’s about an individual, in Arcola Saskatchewan, because they are so scattered. So we have an individual there that will wander to his community. He grew up there, his parents grew up there.
He really wanted his legacy to be in that community. So he set up a fund with South Saskatchewan with the direction that the interest after because we preserve the capital and return the interesting income so that they can give back to charitable organizations forever.
Okay, and so we fund, and we talked about what was of interest to him. And then we, you know, we made sure we talked to the municipality, that they are qualified donors. So we can give, we can give back the money to the Qualified Domain, who can address the needs of the donor, he wanted to give it back to the local rink, the cemetery, the church in town.
So we facilitate those calls, so that they can give it back, right? If they choose to. We have some donors who no longer live here, but they want to give back to the communities that supported them. Where they had their business, where they they raised their children? Yes. Oh, so that’s kind of, you know, those are the legacy pieces that people, businesses, individuals, corporations actually do it as well.
So there’s all kinds of interesting ways to keep your commitment or to give a commitment to your community and to grow communities need finances. in perpetuity. Yes, you know, they’re always going to need money for the roof, or the, you know, there’s always ways to use resources. The nice thing about when you set up a fund is that it’s in there, it’s there, a downside is there for perpetuity forever. So the interest and income will go back to you know, whatever the field of interest or the area of interest is for the donor, forever.
Right, you know, what, that that really spurred something for me, Donna, because when you think about being able to make an impact, being able to make your mark on something that’s particularly important to you, and, and have that sense of, of making a difference of creating a better future, in whatever area that interests you, sport, recreation, health, right like that is really a unique opportunity then to work with you So what does that process look like? Does somebody just call you up and say, Hey, Donna, I got some money you want it? Like, what does that look like? What does that sound like using? Probably not like that?
Sometimes, you’d be surprised. We really, like facilitate a conversation. Absolutely, you know, we would certainly help them. And we will also, you know, we don’t want, we might not be their solution.
So we try to express what we do, and how we can help them. And if they’re, if we’re the right fit for them, right. So you want to make sure that you are able to provide the, you know, the information, or provide the services that a donor wants to get.
And if they want to donate directly to one charity, we tell them, you probably unless that charities not going to be around in 1015 years, which may might be the case, you know, we really advise them if we are the best choice for them. Right. And I think the thing with, with donors to that if they start a fund with us, and let’s just say they want to give back to a specific charity, there’s always options within their funding agreements that if that charity ceases to exist, what are some other areas?
Or what are your case we sent, you know, if the money goes to a charity that is of similar interest, so we always follow through with the donor. So it’s not just kind of a one conversation. We actually feel we might have multiple options for them. But we really want to a little get to know the donor a little bit and understand where they’re coming from and what their goals are.
So in a number of cases, are you also working with second generation, maybe even third generation family, who still continued to be active in managing the fund and things like that?
Yes, we are, we have, we have a few families that have multiple generations in the funds, and it’s growing that ideology, and giving back and creating community for today, but also for future generations. So you know, the funds that sit at the foundation, or they feel they’re invested in community, they will be there forever. Great. So thinking about the next generation, and how does this look for them, and ensuring that there’s resources that can go back into community in the future? Yes.
So that’s why we kind of we focus on long term gains payments for the long term, we want to help community forever. Yes, the endowed model works in that sense, we do both we do have some non endowed, which is almost like a flow through to help immediate capital needs or whatever that might be. Right. But we are really here for blocking you know what and helping generate.
So one of the things that just kind of clicked for me as you’re talking, um, when the when the funder was supporting the municipal level, it doesn’t have to be a charity can be a charity, a nonprofit, a municipality, in terms of how funds can flow from those endowments. You must have a ton you probably have as many different ways that the funds flow as you’ve had donors over the last 50 years.
Well, you know what, all our funds or funds have to go back to a charity. Oh, they do. Okay. Yes, thank you. So but or qualified donee. So municipalities are a qualified donee. Nonprofits sometimes work very closely with a charity. And so, you know, they are they have an agreement perhaps that they work but our funds because the donor receives a charitable tax receipt. Okay, their donation the money has to go back to a charity. All CRA rules, ensure that, that that’s the way it goes.
Okay. So just for my own understanding, then how does that municipality fit under there under that charitable rule with CRA?
Because they are qualified donees. All municipalities are qualified donee. And your lots of times maybe, you know, individuals don’t want to give back to a city or something you want a project that is going to so they often work with us if they have a fund towards a project, perhaps that the city or municipality might be working on It’ll give him a little bit more assurance, I guess that in our, you know, our letters or grant letters, etc, that the monies will be spent in a certain way.
Okay, that makes much more sense for me so many other things. Yeah, go ahead,
I was just gonna say the other important piece to a community foundation is being able to address some emergent needs right in the community.
And so while we do this research, in that area around, you know, we do charitable surveys, we do our vital signs, community network meetings, we do our vital signs report, we get to know the pulse of the community and what’s going on, we have charities calling us when they’re in dire straits, we kind of know, we know what’s happening on the ground.
The important piece here is that we are trying to grow our South Saskatchewan community vital fund, where that money helps emergent needs, we run out, kind of like a competitive grant for the after an application process of what’s going on.
And according to the research that we have, right now, I know there’s five different areas that we’re looking at. People apply for it, but we know that they’re critical points in the community, where people need versus or charities need resources to grow that.
Because well, it’s important to, you know, help keep up different, maybe buildings or cemeteries or we also know, help improve the quality of life for people today that are running into, you know, issues, and charities are trying to help them whether that’s homelessness, poverty, you know, racial discrimination, whether it’s, you know, there’s a whole variety of issues that are going on, we try to focus with our community funds, and help those emergent issues, help communities work together on those emergent issues.
And did you say that there’s five areas that you’re focusing on the vital fund?
Well, so we have two years ago, before COVID, we did do 50 vital community conversations, because it was our 50th anniversary. Okay.
And, you know, we we booked at, I think there was 2000 people attended. Or I don’t know, sorry, I don’t have the numbers in front of me probably around 56 different conversations.
And all over south Saskatchewan. And so the information that he said that they’re number one indicator, is that they need to belong. People need to belong in the community that they’re living in.
And what that means to individuals will be different, depending on feeling or looking for the emergent issues that came up right across Saskatchewan. We’re sustaining rural communities came to make, right. And then drug abuse and addiction, safety in communities. how safe do you feel racism, racism towards new immigrants and indigenous people?
And homelessness and affordable housing? Yeah, those are the five issues. So then COVID hit, and we couldn’t, we were struggling, everybody was pivoting trying to do it. And then we aligned our granting last year on used to be called Smart and Caring fund.
We align it for those five issues. And we added a COVID lens wanted this new COVID. And so we we ran that competitive grant. And I think there was about $60,000 That went back into community on for those issues. And then you know, so that’s what we tried to do with our research. And then so this will ask us, you know, so what are the issues today? Yeah, don’t ask us. What are the issues today? And we’ll say these are the issues because of our research, you know, or wants to support or help with that. community funding? They do.
Awesome. Donna, we are just about at a time today. Can you let folks know how they would find information about the charity? Sorry, the foundation, whether it’s your website, your social channels, how do we find out more about you and make that phone call if there’s some funds to contribute?
So the best way would be to check out our website SSCF.ca and their contact information on there. You don’t really give us a call asked for a meeting. You know, we can sit down and we can chat over email or virtual or we can set up an in person at some point. So we really just, you know, we’re we’re having conversations with people and we really look forward to it. The staff love what they do. And we really do feel like we’re making an impact.
Oh, you are the impact that you are making is tremendous. Absolutely tremendous. So thank you so much for taking the time to be with me here today. It’s been a pleasure to put a name and a face together and take a look at all these credentials and say, Hey, like she’s just an everyday person that you can chat with. And she laughed and smiled through the whole conversation. So that was fantastic. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Barb.
If you’d like to be a guest on the show, you can email me at Barb@abovethefold.live, or reach out on our Facebook and Instagram page at Abovethefold.Ca. And just a reminder, you can even submit questions in advance of our shows on our Facebook page.
I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.