Philanthropy House is an innovative space that is focused on transforming its collaborators’ desire for greater impact into action. Inspired by the success of Foundation House in Toronto and propelled by an urgent need for more office space due to the growth of several of its founding members, Philanthropy House is a centre of activity for people and organizations that are driving change in the community.
Beyond the practicality and sustainability of sharing resources, the concept of Philanthropy House is to generate ideas that lead to action in a way that leverages impact and better serves the community. By sharing workspace with organizations that work on different issues, each organization can increase their knowledge, discover innovative solutions that they can apply to their work, use the space to convene multiple stakeholders, and expand their connections beyond their usual circles.
“We feel that Philanthropy House is the perfect environment for us to increase the impact of our work, convene with various partners and build strong ties to other actors in the philanthropic sector and beyond,” said Eric St-Pierre, Executive Director of The Trottier Family Foundation, a founding member of Philanthropy House.
“There is a strong desire to collaborate between foundations in Montreal,” said Barry Cole, President of Cole Foundation, another founding member of Philanthropy House. “But it is difficult to put into practice. We hope community actors will leverage this space and we can help facilitate the process.”
If you build it, they will come
The idea for Philanthropy House is two years in the making. Initially, five organizations were involved in the discussions. There was much enthusiasm for the concept but in practice, aligning move-in dates and finding a physical space everyone could agree upon, proved to be a hurdle and after a few false starts, momentum was slowing. So, when the ideal, Montreal-style space became available, a former schoolhouse complete with brick walls and a courtyard terrace, two of the original foundations decided to move forward and make it happen.
“We loved the space and were confident that others would too,” says Eric St-Pierre. “It’s perfect for Montreal. Central and close to public transit, it feels like a home rather than an intimidating corporate office. We have open space to share and exchange ideas, a very large conference room for convening, as well as distinct spaces for each of the ‘roomies.’”
It was a risk worth taking, and Philanthropy House is now home to five organizations. Since the inception in November 2019, Philanthropy House has offered free meeting space for community groups and grantees, convened foundations for the Clean Economy Fund funders group, and provided ‘hot desks’ for foundations visiting from outside of Montreal. They have also thrown in a couple of (philanthropy) house parties for good measure.
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