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Guelph Giving Pledge gives back through small community investments

To date, the pledge has raised $150,000 and its being put back into the community through local charities
Dave Durbin and Jason Haupt, executive committee members of the Guelph Giving Pledge.

If everyone in Guelph donated a dime for every $100 they made, people in need could benefit greatly. 

This concept is the basis of the Guelph Giving Pledge. It was founded in 2019 by Jason Haupt after an idea popped into his head during a sleepless night. It’s a donor fund within the Guelph Community Foundation.

As an example, if your net worth was $1 million dollars, according to the pledge, you could donate $1,000.

Since the pledge started it has raised $150,000 and funds have been given to a variety of charities in the community. 

Five years ago was the 10-year anniversary of the idea for the Giving Pledge started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. This inspired Haupt to create the Guelph Giving Pledge. 

When presidential leadership debates were going on in the U.S. ahead of the 2020 election, Haupt remembered a statistic that struck him – the wealthiest one per cent of Americans are worth more collectively than the bottom 90 per cent. This is how he came up with the donation formula.

He scribbled down in his notes “an insignificant transfer of wealth, by the more fortunate could dramatically improve the quality of life of those in need.”

If people cared and didn’t have a general apathy towards homelessness for instance, there wouldn’t be encampments downtown, said Haupt.

With the pledge, if the whole city was involved, it could generate a significant amount of money and if “people would use that to tackle homelessness and poverty in their own backyards, we wouldn't have the issues we have today,” he said.

“I've discovered a great passion for this type of work,” said Dave Durbin, vice-chair of the Guelph Giving Pledge. Through helping people in need he has also found there are negative perceptions of vulnerable populations that aren’t real or rational.

Guelph is a wonderful city, doing great things and if we can help the entire population “then we’ll all be in better shape,” said Durbin.

Haupt’s goal is to inspire other communities to start their own giving pledges and for it to become a movement.

“One of the things we really want to do as part of the Guelph Giving Pledge is enable people to learn the stories of what's happening out there in our community,” said Durbin.

It hosts a monthly public meeting where often a speaker from one of the charities talks about the work its doing in the community. Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Guelph Community Foundation, Luisa Krause from Elora House will be speaking at the meeting.

The Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington received funding through the pledge to help support two pilot initiatives. 

A mental health program was started to help youth by providing early intervention resources and support to prevent higher levels of mental health crisis.

The other initiative is a tutoring program created in partnership with Sylvan Learning and the Children’s Foundation. The program focuses on early literacy since part of the elementary school curriculum is taught through reading and writing.

“And if they're not sort of proficient by the end of Grade 3, then they're lagging behind, and it just becomes this snowball effect of challenges that they have going forward,” said Karyn Kirkwood, executive director of the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington.

Haupt has personal experience that inspired the tutoring program.

His step-daughter was adopted from China when she was three-years-old and when she was six Haupt noticed she was struggling with her school work. She then got a tutor and has been excelling ever since. 

He wants other students to achieve academically so the tutoring program started and he hopes to expand it in the future. The idea is every person going through teachers college as part of their degree, volunteer to tutor students.

“We're going to change some lives, absolutely. But there's no reason why every child that requires tutoring, extra help, can't get that within our system,” he said.

Kirkwood is grateful the Guelph Giving Pledge put its faith into the pilot projects to “explore uncharted territory” which isn’t typical in the nonprofit sector.

For people to get to know what the pledge is and the people behind it, a campaign called Have a Coffee With Us was launched recently. One of the pledge’s executive committee members will take you out for coffee to talk about the Guelph Giving Pledge. Those interested can contact [email protected] or through social media.

Haupt thinks of the Guelph Giving Pledge like a “philanthropic portfolio,” similar to an investment portfolio but instead, the money is invested into the community to tackle things like poverty.

The fund doesn’t just help one charitable organization, it helps about seven so far. It’s almost like a mutual fund, where money is being put into a variety of investments.

“There is so much great work being done in our community that people are not necessarily aware of,” said Durbin. The more people learn, the more passionate and engaged they can be.


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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