By Jessica Zujko

The big world of philanthropy can include many, many, intertwined aspects. After I finished working with the Community Foundation of Halton North last summer, one thing was very evident; storytelling is a huge part of what we do. One of my main projects both last summer and this summer was to interview grant recipients of the CFHN to be able to tell our story in connection with all these amazing organizations around us doing great work.

But first, to understand storytelling I want to talk a bit about the idea of philanthropy in general. From my understanding of working at the CFHN for the past two summers, the concept of philanthropy revolves around improving the wellbeing of humankind by preventing and solving social problems. An important takeaway from this is that philanthropy is not the same as charity. Charity focuses on eliminating the suffering caused by social problems whereas philanthropy focuses on eliminating the social problem in whole. One of the biggest ways to improve the wellbeing of our community and to solve social problems is to tell others of the work organizations such as the CFHN do and get the community to understand why they should get involved or why they should give. This is where storytelling comes into play, so let me dive a bit deeper in on my personal experiences with storytelling.

Working with the CFHN was really my first hands on experience with philanthropy and understanding how important storytelling is to who we are as an organization. Talking and interviewing with many organizations around the community allowed me to really understand what perception others have of us and what other aspects of what we do is vital to the community that I had never even thought of before. For example, from the video stories I created last summer, just talking to other organizations there were some major takeaways. Some said that the CFHN gave “hope for our community programs”, others said that the CFHN “fills gaps in our community”, while others said that the CFHN “builds a social infrastructure in our community”. Everyone had a different perspective to share when it comes to the work the CFHN does within the North Halton region. I found it interesting though despite different messages and perspectives, they all tended to come back to the same roots; the CFHN is an integral part of our community.