As we reflect on 2023, we’re humbled and invigorated by the impact the organizations we support are having in addressing some of our most pressing societal issues. “Making the World a Better Place”, might seem like a moonshot, but that’s exactly what our clients are doing: educating the next generation, providing badly needed affordable housing, offering vital services to vulnerable populations in need, spearheading environmental stewardship, and so much more.  

As the stories below highlight, each organization faces its own challenges and it’s our job to listen deeply, research thoroughly, and uncover the bespoke solutions that enable them to realize the transformational change they passionately pursue.    

Fueled by the momentum of 2023, we know 2024 will see our clients venturing further, aiming even higher and achieving impact in unprecedented ways.  “Moonshot” they say? We’re ready for takeoff. 

Rundle College Society: Storytelling as Rocket Fuel 

Rundle, a Calgary-based, independent K-12 school, is committed to developing the whole human. They see their students as so much more than a grade on paper, and their approach to uncovering each student’s unique potential is a story worth telling.   

Rundle’s investment in their students is matched by their commitment to continuously improve the student experience.   

To do so, they’ve embarked upon two significant capital projects: renovating the College’s Great Hall and raising $15 million over four years to renovate Rundle Academy, a specialized offering designed to educate and empower students with learning disabilities.  

As they prepared to set course in pursuit of these ambitious goals, they secured a generous matching donor to support the Great Hall renovation. With Bespoke, they embarked on a thorough brand audit to assess the way their story was being told and to inform the brand’s evolution. Building upon this exploration, we collaborated with the Rundle team to create a compelling case for support for their Academy renovation campaign.  

As mission control for strategic planning and communication, we crafted and designed a targeted fall direct response campaign that included direct mail and digital appeals, with a focus on emotive, student stories. 

The result? A number of new and inspired major donors came on to support the Academy project. Furthermore, Rundle raised more than $500,000 which, with the donor’s matching dollars, leaves them well positioned to rocket past their Annual Fund goal. 

Rocky View Foundation: Many Collaborative Steps, One Giant Leap for Seniors  

With the Rocky View Foundation (RVF), it appeared to be all systems go. 

Life-changing vision? Check! Their plans would see dozens of seniors safely and sustainably housed who otherwise might not be.   

Bold plan? Check! In 2021, RVF boldly acquired a hotel in Airdrie with plans to transform it into affordable seniors’ housing—a creative, cost-effective and sustainable approach to affordable living.  

Strong Team? Check! The team at the Rocky View Foundation was unafraid to make decisive and entrepreneurial minded choices.  

Regrettably, they faced a setback when they fell short of securing a crucial federal grant needed to fuel the project. 

To achieve liftoff, RVF engaged Bespoke with much needed fuel coming in the form of Bespoke’s P4 funding model. P4 happens when organizations are able bring together public (government), private (corporate or foundations), philanthropic dollars to support provider projects. When organizations create strong P4 partnerships, they can feel confident in the sustainability and strength of their financial position.  

After working with RVF to draft a new strategic plan, we got to work on a revenue generation strategy centred around P4 funding. In March 2023, Bespoke helped secure a $4 million grant from the Government of Alberta (GOA) for the project. With this meaningful investment as momentum, we worked with RVF to secure $8 million in low-interest mortgages from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and finally $750,000 in philanthropic dollars from individual donors and foundations to cover the cost of renovations. 

Just seven months from the GOA grant, RVF was able to execute on their vision and bring 93 new seniors’ lodge units to market, providing seniors with greater access to safe, affordable and appealing places to call home.

University of Fraser Valley: Process as Transformational Rocket Fuel 

University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) stands out for its career-focused education. Located on the traditional lands of the Stó:lō (People of the River), the school has campuses in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, and Hope, British Columbia. Small class sizes and more than 100 programs, including a dozen trades and technology programs, give the school’s 15,000 students an incredible selection of paths to choose from. UFV is committed to engaging learners, transforming lives, and building community.  

Susan Mide Kiss joined the University of Fraser Valley (UFV) going where no person had journeyed before in the brand-new role of Vice-President, Community Engagement. It was also a unique opportunity for Susan to return home to the Valley where she grew up. 

With ambitious community engagement and fundraising goals and their 50th anniversary year just around the corner, she engaged Bespoke to take a deep look at their fundraising strategy and help UFV chart a course forward. Our audit and assessment included a market comparator scan, survey, 1:1 interviews, and focus groups which all informed a comprehensive fundraising plan.  

UFV is now positioned to achieve their fundraising goals, but the process itself also yielded beneficial results. UFV reports more trust and unity among their team. The report and the plan helped UFV see how they could shift from a largely transactional way of working to one that is more relational and transformational. While the plan is ambitious, the team has a solid and inspiring north star as they head into a pivotal year. They’ve also had their strongest fundraising year to date

To learn more about UFV, check them out here.