Skip to content

OMH Part of Collaborative Effort With Community Foundations

May 30, 2016

O’Connor MacLeod Hanna LLP has been a long-term supporter of the Community Foundations in this area: the Oakville Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Halton North and Burlington Community Foundation. Lawyers from the firm have served on the Boards of all three Community Foundations. Hal Watson is currently on the Board of the Community Foundation of Halton North and was one of the original directors of that organization. Brian Hanna continues to be a Board member with the Oakville Community Foundation.

On May 5, 2016, the three Community Foundations worked together to present a public forum on new changes with respect to taxes, estate rules and insurance. Amongst the experts that sat on this specialized panel presented by the Community Foundations, was O’Connor MacLeod Hanna’s partner, Larry Gangbar. Larry has a specialized practice in Wills and Estates.

Below hereto is an article recently published in the Oakville Beaver with respect to the event.

Oakville Community Foundation teams up with regional counterparts for event

New community foundations alliances should pay off

At a joint event held by all three of Halton’s community foundations, pictured, from left, are: Bruce Etherington, of Bruce Etherington & Associates and Oakville Community Foundation (OCF) co-founder; Colleen Mulholland, Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) president and CEO; Larry Gangbar, partner at O’Connor MacLeod Hanna LLP; Wendy Rinella, OCF CEO; Sue Lawrenson, Community Foundation of Halton North (CFHN) executive director; and Tim Cestnick, tax expert and columnist.

Halton’s three community foundations are unified in their approaches to philanthropy and addressing key issues in the region.

A new collaborative effort between the Oakville Community Foundation (OCF), Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) and Community Foundation of Halton North (CFHN) yielded its first joint event May 5 at Oakville’s Harbour Banquet and Conference Centre.

The public forum, New Changes in the World of Taxes, Estate Rules and Insurance, featured a panel presentation and Q-and- A with Tim Cestnick, tax expert and regular newspaper columnist; Bruce Etherington, Bruce Etherington & Associates insurance expert and OCF co-founder; and Larry Gangbar, legal expert and partner at O’Connor MacLeod Hanna LLP.

Terry Jackson, past-chair of the Community Foundations of Canada and current OCF Investment Committee member, moderated the session.

The coalition came about after the OCF developed a new three-year strategic plan, Building More Effective Philanthropy, which includes collaboration, OCF CEO Wendy Rinella said.

She met with Colleen Mulholland, BCF president and CEO, and Sue Lawrenson, CFHN executive director, earlier this year to discuss a partnership.

“We shared the idea that it would be great to have a joint event because we share a lot of the same issues. We need to promote philanthropy broadly and getting the word out across Halton is an important goal,” said Rinella.

The OCF’s role is to support the community foundation movement, Rinella said, whether it’s with new groups, such as CFHN or “really good neighbour” organizations like BCF.

In conjunction with the Oakville group’s Vital Signs Report, the Creating Vital Solutions initiative was created, with input from BCF and CFHN, she said, to help OCF develop affordable housing solutions. “I think you will see some more work on that by the community foundations going forward,” said Rinella, noting the initiative and partnership is a “good launching point” for discussions on what issues will be addressed.

Mulholland said there are numerous common needs in Halton, ranging from poverty, diversity and affordable housing to food security, transit and mental health.

“As we forge forward here, we will decide if there’s a project, or maybe through grant-making, where we can partner together to leverage the power of three community foundations,” said Mulholland. The new partnership is wonderful, Mulholland said, as community foundations are “born and bred” on collaboration, whether it’s through donors or local partners.

“The fact that the regional community foundations are partnering together just speaks to the culture of community foundations. It’s tremendous,” said Mulholland.

She said the gathering’s three speakers are partners and ambassadors for Canada-wide community foundations, not just for Halton’s groups.

For the Burlington organization, the inaugural joint event is “helping to spread the word.” “We partner and work with our presenters every day and encourage them to share examples and opportunities with our families and individuals, on how they can step into supporting their philanthropic goals,” said Mulholland.

The alliance allows it to “share and collaborate (on) the importance of philanthropy” and what it means to Halton communities, said the BCF president and CEO.

“Whether you’re supporting community foundations or other agencies in the community, the leadership role of community foundations is to speak to the importance of philanthropy,” said Mulholland. Because the CFHN just officially launched two years ago, its partnership with the OCF and BCF is “so critical as we grow because they’ve both been great mentors,” Lawrenson said, noting its financial alliance with the OCF.

“The idea of being the new kid on the block and a new foundation in an area that’s established is providing a new vehicle, a new way of thinking about philanthropy, donations and grants,” said Lawrenson.

Since many issues in Oakville and Burlington also affect north Halton, the collaboration helps CFHN with its research and “knowing what is important, what community means and the challenges being faced,” Lawrenson noted.

“Instead of having to recreate the wheel, I can look to my partners so we can move forward, maybe at a little faster rate,” she said.

“We’re trying to build our endowments so we can help with community vitality and help fill the gaps in the community with grants to build sustainable philanthropy. The gift today keeps on giving forever.” Jackson said Canada has 191 community foundations, which are all different in “many, many good ways” in how they help people.

It’s important for Canadians, as individuals and organizations, to try to put “our arms around people.” “Belonging intersects with all aspects of community life and connects to so much work that we, as community foundations, do. Our focus on belonging, inclusion, pluralism and participation is playing out in so many different ways,” said Jackson, noting its new fund for Canada’s 150th birthday will help build community and activate a “groundswell” of local events and activities to mark it.

Details of the foundations’ next collaborative event have yet to be finalized.