Welcome to our Year in Review

In 2022, we forged new ways of working to become better partners and collaborated with organizations across the country to delve deeper into our funding and investing strategies.

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Welcome from the Board Chair and the President & CEO

At McConnell, 2022 brought refreshing opportunities to meet and collaborate in person as we moved deeper into our work in Communities, Reconciliation and Climate. This was also a year marked by many challenges for the sector, with rising inflation, increased demand for services and a need for large-scale mobilization of capital. This is a moment for philanthropy to revisit how we work, and how we deploy our assets to better support the organizations working to create positive impact.

In recognition of the important societal and environmental changes of the past several years, our Board made the decision to approve the gradual transition of our endowment to 100% impact investing. Over approximately five years, as market conditions evolve and more investment products become available, we will deploy all $655 million of our assets in the form of both charitable funding and investing towards advancing our mission. To help ensure these investments do not work in conflict with our climate objectives, our Board has approved divesting from fossil fuel holdings by the end of 2023, as well as a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in our investment portfolio by 2050. We know this will be a learning journey, with successes and failures to come. We look forward to sharing our experience with partners as this work progresses, and hope that others will join us.

Last year also saw soaring inflation rates, with low-income individuals and families facing the harshest impacts of the rising cost of living. Organizations supporting those most impacted have faced ​​increased demands while also needing to manage tighter budgets and reduced buying power. This prompted us to provide all active funding partners with a one-time 7-10% inflation top-up, depending on the financial pressure being experienced by the organization. We hope this additional funding helped to give our partners some breathing room to continue their important work.

In 2022, we also forged new ways of working, with a view to improve how we connect with our partners. This had implications across our organization, including our strategy and partnership work, as well as our funding and decision-making processes.

Our renewed Communities funding strategy was developed in consultation with community organizations from across the country to reflect the current needs and challenges of the sector. The strategy draws on evidence that communities know what is best for them, and prioritizes programming that supports community-driven solutions and rebalances power to equity-deserving groups.

Many social purpose organizations do not have charitable status and are defined as “non-qualified donees” (NQDs). McConnell has been supporting NQDs that play an important role in generating positive social and environmental impact in Canada since 2012. In 2022, the federal government announced a change in rules that will allow charities to fund NQDs with fewer restrictions. This change came because of advocacy from the sector. McConnell and partners such as Imagine Canada were active participants in these discussions, alongside the leadership of Senator Ratna Omidvar and the voices of many NQDs who championed this issue. We are grateful for their work and look forward to continuing to partner with high impact NQDs.

Our partnerships always begin with an application, which we know can take time and draw on much-needed resources to research, write and submit. Improving the application experience is an important element of being better partners. That’s why, at the beginning of 2022, we overhauled our application process to make applying for funding easier. Now, organizations are asked to start by submitting a short-form application. If successful, we invite them to submit a full proposal. This way, only organizations with projects that are more likely to receive funding are required to undertake the more rigorous, long-form application.

To help make our funding and decision-making more transparent, our team hosted webinars, produced detailed application resources and hosted over 350 virtual ‘Office Hours’ conversations advising organizations about potential fit. We know this new process is not yet perfect and we are regularly reviewing and revising it to improve for our partners.

Above all, our partners continue to inspire us and make us ask how to shift our ways of working to better support the amazing work being done in communities across Turtle Island. In this Year in Review, you will have the opportunity to learn about their impact. From the NWT On The Land Collaborative’s ​work on land-based programs in the North, to Indigenous Climate Action’s national efforts around Indigenous climate leadership, and Disability Without Poverty’s advocacy to benefit Canadians living with disabilities, we hope these stories will inspire you too.

Thank you for reading our 2022 Year in Review.

Graham Angus
Board Chair

Lili-Anna Pereša
President and CEO

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About the McConnell Foundation

Founded in 1937 by J.W. McConnell, the McConnell Foundation is a private Canadian foundation that contributes to diverse and innovative approaches to address community resilience, reconciliation and climate change. We do so through funding and investment partnerships, strengthening capabilities, convening, and collaborating with the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Our vision

We envision a future in which our economy and social systems promote the thriving of all people, and in which the natural environment is stewarded for generations to come. We see all sectors working together to address climate change, to help foster reconciliation, and to unleash individual creativity and organizational resources to solve social challenges and strengthen communities.

Our mission

We strive for a resilient, inclusive and sustainable society that can successfully address its complex challenges.

Introducing our new organizational values

In 2022, we formalized the Foundation’s core values and principles. These are the cultural bedrock of our organization. Our values inform how we develop strategies and make decisions, and our principles are how we put these values into action.

In addition to our organizational values, McConnell is also a signatory to the Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action. As the Declaration states: “We thank the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for inviting us into this circle that is built on the seven sacred lessons of: Truth, Humility, Honesty, Respect, Courage, Wisdom and Love. These teachings are consistent with our collective purposes, principles and missions.”



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