How a Small Donation Can Make a Big Impact

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University of Waterloo Research + Technology Park Activities Committee Fund

Back in July 2016, a room full of 200 golfers dug into their meals during an annual charity golf tournament. After a day of swings and putts, everyone at the event, hosted by tenants of the David Johnston Research + Technology Park at the University of Waterloo, was ready to relax.

But when spokespeople for the local Blind Soccer League and a golf program for underprivileged youth stepped up to the microphone, the golfers soon discovered what their charity tournament dollars would be supporting. 

"No one had an idea that blind soccer even existed," says Christie Eby, a David Johnston Research + Technology Park Activities Committee (R&T PAC) member who works at Client Outlook Inc. "Everyone asked a lot of questions."

With the money, the soccer players may eventually have the opportunity to play against other teams around the world. One grant of $3,650 represented a 1,000 percent increase for the league's budget. 

The Blind Soccer League is only one of many local children's charities and community-based projects funded by The University of Waterloo Research + Technology Park Activities Committee Fund, established at The KWCF in 2008. Now in its 11th year, the fund is set to hit a $250,000 milestone. 

The committee, which plans fundraising events such as the golf tournament, food truck rallies and popcorn days, is made up of tenants and people with ties to the Research Park. This type of collective philanthropy works for smaller companies that don't have the resources to donate large sums, but still want to make a difference in the community. 

"We can't sponsor large events, but we can organize and give our time," says Eby. 

The fund is also earmarked specifically for small groups in the community. Although it releases a modest amount to donate each year, that money can have a big impact for those who receive it, explains Jeff Ohlhausen, longtime committee member and directer of IT for OpenText. 

"We serve little, almost organic causes that sometimes get missed," he says. 

And because it's an endowment fund, the committee knows their years of time, energy and effort will continue to causes on an ongoing basis. 

"For us, it's about creating a legacy of giving," says Carol Stewart, manager of the Research Park. "Long after we've moved on from our jobs in this Park, there will be this fund that lives on."