Arts for Children of Torontopage 1jumpstart - reaching new heights

Ask not what Business can do for the Not for Profit Sector...

By Lola Rasminsky, Executive Director

If we are to take His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, seriously - the not-for-profit sector can give us all opportunities to be truly happy.

This past September, I had the privilege of participating in the Connecting for Change conference during his visit to Vancouver. He devoted a full day to bringing together 120 corporate and social leaders in an effort to promote dialogue between the two sectors.

The Dalai Lama attracted sold out crowds at GM Place, as he does wherever he goes. More than 18,000 people were only too glad to pay $100 each to be in his presence. What was most striking about the event was neither his radiant presence nor his words, but the looks of utter joy and inspiration on the faces in the audience.

What does he have to say that people need to hear? What is missing in the lives of so many of us that can be found in the teachings of this humble monk? In one of his books he speaks about the experience we've all had of being so certain that we've left something in a particular room that when we don't find it, we go back and look in the very same room, again and again. He suggests that when we are not happy, many of us think our outlook will improve if we make more money, or if we get a bigger promotion. We're convinced that all we need to do is to make more of an effort by continuing to do what we are already doing.

The Dalai Lama says that we are looking for the answer in the wrong place. Only those with an 'educated heart' - those who demonstrate compassion, understanding, and caring - can feel truly happy. I resonate with this message. My own life has felt more complete since having the chance to engage with young people whose circumstances don't afford them the same opportunities as many other children. By working together, we have begun to see new horizons for ourselves, we have introduced each other to new worlds and we've stretched ourselves beyond what we thought possible.

So what does all this have to do with the not-for profit sector helping the corporate world? When we show kindness to others, we illuminate our compassionate side. When this kind of activity becomes part of our lives - be it mentoring a child, preparing food for an Out of the Cold program, or connecting with a teen at risk - we feel better about ourselves. This energized feeling spills over into everything we do. We look forward to getting up in the morning. Many progressive corporations and professional service businesses already understand this. They encourage and support their employees' altruistic endeavours. They understand that people who are happy are more productive. These companies deserve to be celebrated, not just for being responsible corporate citizens, but for their enlightened self interest.

If the Dalai Lama is right, the happiest people are those who try to make the world a better place. He talks about 'silly selfishness' and 'wise selfishness'. The wisely selfish look after their spirit by including acts of kindness in their daily regime. Not-for-profit organizations can provide many opportunities for people to act in this way. And there are many 'brokers' who are overjoyed to bring together people with needs, and people who can help to satisfy those needs. It becomes a mutually rewarding relationship. It's not just about the duty to do the right thing. It's about doing the right thing to satisfy our own 'wisely selfish' needs.

A special thanks to all of AFC's most recent donors

Major Supporters $25,000 +

  • Anonymous Foundation (2)
  • HSBC Bank Canada

Platinum Supporters $15,000-$24,999

  • Telus Foundation

Gold Supporters $10,000 - $14,999

  • Frederick & Douglas Dickson Memorial Foundation
  • Ontario Arts Council
  • John and Ruth Crow Fund of Tides Canada Foundation
  • Toronto Arts Council

Silver Supporters $5,000-$9,999

  • Bees Knees Music Fundraiser
  • Kahanoff Foundation
  • Catherine & Ian Delaney
  • KBSH Spirit Foundation
  • Deutsche Bank Canada
  • Nancy McCain
  • Edelman Canada
  • Andrea Soler

Angels $1,000-$4,999

  • Eli Lilly Canada
  • Michina Pope
  • Kiwanis Club of Toronto Foundation
  • Société Générale
  • Merle Kriss
  • Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund
  • Laidlaw Foundation
  • Winberg Foundation

Benefactors $500-$999

  • CIBC Asset Management Inc.
  • Norm MacEachern