Results from Stronger Together 2015

Photo courtesy of World Relief Canada
Photo courtesy of World Relief Canada

Stronger Together is pleased to confirm grants of $500,000 to twelve organizations in this year’s round of grants for innovative outreach by Canadian Christian charities.  Four partners — Acts of Grace Foundation, Bridgeway Foundation, John and Rebecca Horwood, and Mitchell Family Foundation — are this year’s contributors.  Bridgeway Foundation contributed a quarter of the funds for this initiative.

Our grantmaking process followed the pattern from previous years.  In January, we received 74 LOIs of which 18 were shortlisted.  Over the next months, we received a comprehensive application which detailed the project for which they sought our partnership, and we personally met with leaders from each organization in a site visit.

The partners met on May 26-27, 2015 and together decided to fund the following twelve organizations. Our best wishes go to the recipients of this year’s grants.  We also thank all who have applied and who continue to seek creative solutions to challenges in our world.

Bridgeway’s contributions are listed below.  For the complete list of grants given by all four partners, please visit the Stronger Together results page.

Stronger Together 2015
Commitments by Bridgeway Foundation
Organization Name Organization City Prov Project Name Amount Awarded Project Description
cbm Canada Stouffville ON 3D Printing of Prosthetics for Children $30,000.00 To research and propose a business model to manufacture prosthetic sockets made on a 3D printer for some of the world’s poorest children in developing countries.
Cardus Hamilton ON End of Life Care: Changing the Public Conversation $15,000.00 To develop a coherent and compelling policy to advance alternatives to end of life care in Canada.
Focus on the Family Canada Langley BC Canadian Family Life Project $21,125.00 To undertake a comprehensive survey and conduct research to measure aspirations and realities of Canadian families, and to communicate findings to the public.  Conditional.
Bible League Canada Grimsby ON Find-A-Bible Website Project $10,000.00 To add 1300 minority language versions of the Bible to a website and increase the traffic to the site by 75,000.
Health Partners International of Canada Dollard-des-Ormeaux QC Pharmaceutical Inventory Management Project $10,000.00 To develop a new and accessible pharmaceutical inventory management program for partner clinics and hospitals in the developing world.  Conditional.
World Relief Canada Markham ON Roots of Opportunity (Ibba County, South Sudan) $5,000.00 To benefit rural farmers with improved nutrition, food security and income generation in Ibba County, South Sudan.
CAUSE Canada Canmore AB Peer Literacy Mobile Computer Lab Program (Kabala, Sierra Leone) $10,000.00 To train 60 high school students in Sierra Leone to offer literacy support to 2,160 primary school students, and to benefit another 800 remote, rural students through e-learning support.
International Needs Canada Burlington ON School Poultry Enterprise (Solwezi, Zambia) $10,000.00 To invest in the construction of a 3,617 square foot chicken coop and poultry enterprise to provide an ongoing sustainable income stream for a school in Zambia.  Conditional.
Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto Toronto ON Improved Medical Care for our Community $5,000.00 To increase the number and quality of health care for the homeless at an inner Toronto drop-in community.
Communitas Supportive Care Society Abbotsford BC Training and Developing Healthy Families $4,625.00 To offer new training support to families of children with autistic and other special needs at an Abbotsford respite care home.
Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services Red Deer AB National Consultant Team $2,750.00 To create resources and train five regional consultants to assist in strengthening pregnancy care centres in localities across Canada.
Christians Against Poverty Canada Hamilton ON Toronto Debt Centre Project $1,500.00 To open three new local church-based debt centres in the GTA to assist 24 individuals with debt counselling and holistic support.

Six steps to better site visits

Discussion at the table - Meeting over coffee from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 digital internet, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

March and April were busy months with most of my time dedicated to 18 Stronger Together site visits with charities from BC to Quebec.  We normally reserve two hours for these meetings, as we arrange to personally meet all shortlisted applicants.  In many cases, it’s the only time all year that I will be face-to-face with that charity’s leaders, so a lot is on the line.

Since each of these unique meetings are fresh in my mind, here are some reminders for charities on putting your best foot forward.

(1) Find out the agenda: If you know a potential donor is coming to visit, find out their needs and expectations for the meeting – they are the ones with the agenda.  On one of my visits, I was welcomed to the charity and ready to begin, but then found they planned to drive off site for a tour of a related facility.  While I can flex with the best of them and the visit was inspiring, this change ate up precious time and I found my focus distracted as we made small talk in the car.

(2) Be prepared: Now knowing the agenda, get ready to meet those expectations by having the right resources and people at the meeting.  Many times this round, I was able to meet the entire leadership team.  This greatly enriched my understanding of how the organization functions and of the key qualities each team member brings.

(3) Tidy your office: On site visits, I often do a walk through which is always reveals more than one would expect. Even charities paying the cheapest rent (you know who you are) created a bright, welcoming space that was clutter-free and inspiring for staff and visitors.  Other offices were dark, musty and cluttered – unsorted papers and dog-eared files randomly piled in bookshelves, odd smells, stale mugs of cold coffee, tattered posters, dust bunnies.  These are not spirit-lifting environments for anyone.

(4) Create an adequate space: Generally the board room or private area with a flat work space is necessary, if you have it.  I type notes as we meet, as it’s impossible to remember all the details coming at me.  Avoid meeting in noisy breakfast places – it’s impossible to competently devour both eggs and information.  At another site visit, I balanced my laptop on my knees.

(5) Avoid tech pain: I have a love-hate relationship with Skype – I love the potential, but it usually pales in reality.  Having a colleague join a meeting of several people by Skype sometimes means the meeting can revolve around the Skyped-in person when technology isn’t working well.  Poor technology interrupts the flow of the meeting.  Powerpoints or videos that don’t load properly are other technological minefields.  Tech pain will always be with us, but let’s try to minimize it.

(6) Open your heart: Be sincere and honest.  Be vulnerable.  We know you aren’t perfect, and neither is your organization.  Pretending everything is perfect makes us wonder what you’re hiding. Transparently letting us into the challenges and scars in your organization will help us know how best to walk together with you.


Results from round one of Stronger Together 2015

Grant application
© 2014 Flazingo Photos, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

The application window for new LOIs for Stronger Together 2015 is now closed.  We had a lot of interest in this round of grants, and have received some excellent candidates for this round of ST2015 which highlights innovation being proposed by Christian Canadian charities.

Over the next week, ST2015 partners will be evaluating the LOIs with the shortlist for round two announced late next Monday, February 9.  In our process, each partner is given equal weight in scoring LOIs.  The average scores from all partners will be used to rank the top LOIs which advance to the next round.

In order to have a well-rounded batch of proposals, LOIs will be grouped in order of ask size – large ($66-100k), medium ($33-66k), and small ($0-33k).  The top LOIs in each of these three categories will form the shortlist for round two.  Some LOIs were declined in advance as they failed to meet our eligibility criteria mentioned here.  Other LOIs were withdrawn by the charity before being submitted.

Results from this round are as follows:

  • LOIs being considered: 68
  • Declined LOIs: 6
  • Total LOIs received: 74

We extend our appreciation to every charity that applied and wish you the best as you pursue your charitable missions.

Miss the orientation to Stronger Together 2015?

Canadian Christian charities are eligible to apply for grants from Stronger Together in January.  If you plan to submit an LOI, we highly recommend you preview this online presentation.  You’ll benefit from hearing tips for making your LOI better.

Stronger Together is a Bridgeway-hosted initiative that allows major donors to collaborate together to spark innovation and deliver impact.

For powerpoint notes to the orientation, click here: Overview of ST2015 v2

Register for online orientation to Stronger Together 2015

Binoculars II from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Chase Elliott Clark, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Once again, Bridgeway will be hosting a round of Stronger Together grants, a joint granting initiative that we conduct annually with other grantmakers.  Many charities have questions whether their organizations should apply, whether they qualify, what types of projects are of interest, etc.  As it is impossible to individually respond to everyone, we have created a series of online orientations to the Stronger Together program for 2015.

We will offer several identical online sessions.  Besides securing your ticket beforehand, all you need is your computer and an internet connection.

Topics covered include:

  • Changes in this year’s Stronger Together program
  • Introduction to new granting partners
  • Our goals for ST2015
  • Eligibility and selection criteria
  • What we look for in a Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
  • How to apply using our online application system
  • An opportunity to ask your own questions

Registered ticket holders will be emailed a GoToMeeting invitation which will include a link to the online meeting.  The orientation will last one hour.

Space is limited to 25 per session. Register for a session below.  NOTE: All times Eastern.

Eventbrite - Orientation for Stronger Together 2015

Eventbrite - Orientation for Stronger Together 2015

Eventbrite - Orientation for Stronger Together 2015

Eventbrite - Orientation for Stronger Together 2015

Eventbrite - Orientation for Stronger Together 2015