By Laura McCaffrey
Photos by Stuart Lowe
As a postsecondary institution established by the community, Carleton has always been passionate about advancing solutions for society’s needs through education and dialogue.
The Walrus, a Canadian information-based charity, shares that passion.
Part of The Walrus’ aim is to provoke new thinking and spark conversation on matters vital to Canadians. Through the publication of a fact-based magazine and the production of idea-focused events, The Walrus' work is both driven by, and in service of, the needs of its community.
The Walrus Talks is a national events series that convenes industry professionals and community members to discuss themes relevant to Canadians. Each event is co-hosted with a partner organization and features seven-minute presentations from seven diverse speakers on a topic aligned with the priorities of the partner organization.
As Carleton was looking for unique ways to celebrate the impact created through its nearly complete $300-million fundraising campaign when it connected with The Walrus in late 2018, a 2019 Walrus Talks on impact was a clear fit.
“The Walrus Talks event provided us with an excellent opportunity to advance the common good of knowledge sharing and education, and to talk about impact—a major theme of our most recent fundraising campaign,” explains Christina Chénard, acting director of alumni and donor relations at Carleton University.
“We are always interested in finding innovative ways to work with other organizations to better serve our community.”
From The Walrus’ perspective, the topic of impact was timely—as was working with an organization like Carleton.
“We refer to ourselves as ‘Canada’s Conversation’; we always want to be at the centre of conversations that are important to Canadians,” says Andrea Boyd, director of partnerships and sponsorships at The Walrus. “We do that by curating content, convening people and working with organizations that have something meaningful to contribute to Canada.
“This idea of impact is important and relevant to Canadians—especially in today’s changing philanthropic climate. Together with Carleton and our featured speakers, we wanted to unravel what philanthropy actually means in practice. You don’t have to be a millionaire or a celebrity to be a philanthropist or to make a difference.”
Following the huge turnout and overall success of the 2019 event, Carleton and The Walrus decided to continue their partnership in 2020—this time hosting the event in Toronto.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Carleton’s president and vice-chancellor, proudly shared some of the University’s major accomplishments over the last year, noting the powerful role that partnership plays.
“Carleton has accomplished a tremendous amount of good through collaboration with our internal and external partners. And that is what tonight is about: partnership with purpose. It is about finding ways to work together to maximize impact and create meaningful change.”
Seven partnership-focused speakers shared the stage throughout the evening, each bringing a distinct perspective on how to create impact through collaboration.
“My work is all about networking and making connections,” says David Morley (BA Hons/77), president and CEO of UNICEF Canada and featured speaker at the event. “I can’t be too protective of my agency. Above all else, I work for a cause. To advance that cause, I have to work with others, connect others, introduce others.
“In work and in life, partnership is about approaching situations with humility so we can do things as a team. Even if there are challenges at times, we can ultimately go further and accomplish more when we work together.”
Much like the Ottawa event, the Toronto Walrus Talks was a massive success. That feat can be attributed to a well-aligned, mutually beneficial partnership between Carleton and The Walrus.
“The best partnerships are ones where there are strong synergies between the parties—where the organizations are mission-mandate aligned and the partners meet in the middle to achieve something. That was the case here,” says Boyd. “We and Carleton both have a large network of connections, and together we were able to put together a high-quality program of diverse speakers that attracted a lot of people.
“This partnership allowed us to amplify each other’s message and purpose, which resulted in strong outcomes for both partners as well as for the larger community.”
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