Just over three years as an established society under the B.C. Societies Act, Foundation of Hope held its 3rd annual general meeting. It was an opportunity to reflect on important milestones related to objectives set through strategic planning: FOH presence at a national level, expanding Board capacity, and working steadily toward a model for financial sustainability. All three strategic objectives achieved new heights thanks to hard work from a committed volunteer team of board members and directors.
Highlights of the past year include a key annual fundraiser with the addition of Sashay held by Gay Whistler in January. Sashay brought in over $20,000 as an inaugural event and has been confirmed for the coming winter by Gay Whistler’s Dean Nelson. The success of Sashay complemented FOH’s third annual STRUT event held in June, which blew all previous events out of the water setting precedents for participating registrants and total funds raised – more than $57,000 – a new record!
Partnership with TD Bank, corporate champion of the LGBT+ community, led to the gift of 3 million Aeroplan Miles through the TD Aeroplan Cause Marketing Program. Miles fuelled fundraising efforts, travel assistance to Newcomers and their families, and capacity support on projects and programs benefiting LGBT+ Newcomers.
Remarkably, TD informed FOH that its gift of Aeroplan Miles will be doubled to a whopping 6 million over the coming year!
This year FOH has also given out an unprecedented amount of donor funds to both Newcomers community service and Refugee private sponsorship groups. Eligible applications totalling nearly $70,000 have been received since the 2016 AGM; nearly double the amounted granted in the previous year. All applications for which reviews have been completed have received Notifications of Award..
The Grants Committee, led by FOH Board Directors Chad Wilkinson and Eka Nasution, revised the Terms of Reference to more readily engage members of the LGBT+ community as volunteers to evaluate grant applications as a formal Review Team. The growing list of Community Representatives is key to expanding Board capacity; it engages the community whilst upholding transparency and accountability to our donor base.
This year FOH expanded across Canada with grant applications or statements of intent from major cities across Canada. New additions included applicants based in Calgary, Ottawa, and Montréal. Upon attending the LGBTTIQA2S Human Rights Conference in Montréal last month, more organizations have learned about us and applications have either been granted or are pending reviews.
There have also been some important changes to the Board of Directors. Firstly, acting Secretary Paul Tolnai has decided to step away over the coming year. Co-founder and original private sponsor that led to FOH’s establishment, Paul’s tremendous service has brought in proper governance in keeping with obligations as a registered society and charity. Treasurer, FOH co-founder, and original private sponsor Patrick Rmeily stepped away earlier this year. His dedicated responsibilities were especially crucial to fiscal prudence. Close work with President Carl Meadows has allowed Carl to serve as acting Treasurer in the interim.
To fill these critical roles, the AGM welcomed the addition of Laurel Murray, who recently came to the Board of Directors this summer and is now Secretary. Laurel demonstrates enthusiasm and is an especially grounding presence at Board meetings. FOH welcomed the addition of Blaine Lambert as Treasurer. Certified Professional Accountant and highly successful entrepreneur, Blaine is hard-working and dedicated. These two personalities are just what the Board needs to push our strategic goals to new heights.
The Foundation of Hope also welcomes the addition of Andrew Benson as a new Director. Andrew has declared his interest to assist Chad Walters who has been so diligent in his social media responsibilities and Board communications. Nardia Brown, who has upped her game more than any other board member in the past year, has remained a bastion for volunteering, governance, and outreach. Chad Wilkinson and Eka Nasution, who replaced Catarina Moreno on the Grants Committee, have worked closely to build out FOH’s grant infrastructure. Cat stepped away on a decision to leave Canada and pursue opportunities abroad, but FOH is grateful for her role as Vice President and the structure she brought through ongoing work in organizational development. Chad Wilkinson has stepped in to assume the role as Vice President, which he acknowledges to be a rather large pair of shoes to fill in Cat’s absence.
In the coming year, Chad Wilkinson will work closely with FOH co-founder and President Carl Meadows, who has declared this to be his final year as President. Carl is truly the champion of the organization and has been instrumental in the evolution of the Rainbow Foundation of Hope. Although he will step down as its leader, he will remain very much engaged, as someone committed to this important cause for life… and beyond.