Offering strategies for meaningful giving, receiving and leading

WATERMARK | May 2015

Sharilyn Hale, MA, CFRE
Founder & Principal


"Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked."

-Warren Buffett

Across the philanthropic landscape the tide always seems to be shifting.  From charity overhead and digital fundraising to board governance challenges and the globalization of giving, May's issue features content and resources to ensure you're not caught, unless you want to be.  Enjoy,

- Sharilyn

5 challenges Watermark

can help you with today!


You have to launch a major gift program or campaign and aren't sure about the best approach or how to get ready.


Your board is indifferent or resistant to fundraising but expects big results.


You're wrestling with a strategic organizational issue and need to determine a sound course of action.


You're struggling to effectively engage women philanthropists and volunteers. 


You're inspired to support a cause or issue that is new to you but don't feel you understand the landscape to make effective gift commitments. 


Call Sharilyn anytime for an exploratory conversation at 416.567.3002. 




New handbook on 

global philanthropy 

coming in June


The Palgrave Handbook of Global Philanthropy is a comprehensive reference guide to the practice of philanthropy across twenty-six nations and regions which will be available to add to your library in June.  


Sharilyn was a contributing author with "Giving in the Caribbean: Building on Cultures of Generosity to Strengthen the Nonprofit Sector".


Edited by Pamela Weipking and Femida Handy, this essential reference work describes the 

non-profit sector and analyzes philanthropic endeavours country by country, providing a global overview that covers Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and the Americas.


Featuring an international line-up 

of leading philanthropy scholars, thematic chapters examine cross-national issues from the social origins of the nonprofit sector and charitable giving to the influence of government support, fiscal incentives and religion, while outlining how major country-specific differences in governmental, economic, and legal policies shape philanthropic giving. 


FREE subscription
to  Giving Magazine


Giving Magazine is a new digital publication which features philanthropists around the globe through stories, profiles and videos.  Receiving more than 1 million views and endorsements from the likes of Melinda Gates, the magazine was founded by Roberta d'Eustachio
of  Ambassadors for Philanthropy and funded by Dame Stephanie Shirley, the British government's founding Ambassador for Philanthropy 
The inaugural issue includes a book review by Sharilyn of Giving 2.0 by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen.


Giving Magazine is currently being awarded to charities around the 

world for FREE to gift to their 

donors and philanthropists. Visit to begin your subscription and add your voice to this new philanthropic community.


Jennifer Burland Adams 
Photo-Royal Gazette

First Bermudian

Earns CFRE

Jennifer Burland Adams has become the first Bermudian to hold the CFRE certification. Held by more than 5,000 fundraisers around the world, CFRE sets the standard for effective and ethical fundraising practice.


As Director of Advancement for the Bermuda High School for Girls and founding President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Bermuda (both are Watermark clients), Jennifer believes "strong nonprofit leadership is vital for the success of our local nonprofits".

Past Chair of CFRE International
and a vocal advocate of fundraising certification, Sharilyn congratulates Jennifer on this achievement which will pave the way for her Bermudian colleagues.



United Way Worldwide receives Canadian donation to expand across the Caribbean

Sharilyn Hale
and Rick Waugh

Philanthropist and recently retired CEO of Scotiabank, Rick Waugh, has made a $2 million investment through the Waugh Family Foundation to introduce the United Way to 6 new countries across the Caribbean, which already has a presence in Jamaica, Trinidad, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. 


With a long time love for and interest in the region, and a history of leadership with the United Way in Canada, the Waugh family's gift is good news for the region.  It will help deepen both philanthropic and leadership capacity to transform communities in need.


Bravo Mr. Waugh!


A culture of philanthropy values all gifts


Watermark client The Stop Community Food Centre's campaign to raise $100,000 for its Drop-in meal program is raising the sights of current donors and inspiring new supporters from unexpected places.  After reading about the work of The Stop, a man in the neighborhood wanted to help but didn't have any money to donate so collected and recycled empty bottles then brought in and gave the $5 he had earned.


Director of Development Cheryl Roddick, CFRE says, "That gift is so meaningful to us and shows the power of philanthropy can bring out the hero in anyone."  Watermark is proud to be engaged by an organization with such a strong culture of philanthropy.

Charity Overhead -

A nuanced conversation for donors and charities


Fundraising and administration costs are a topic of great concern to (and debate among) donors and charities alike. 


Charities need to operate effectively in an increasingly complex environment and have the leadership and resources needed to fulfill their mission. Donors want to feel good about their donations and that the money is tackling the 'need'. And many nonprofit boards struggle to set appropriate policies that balance these realities. 


It is time for a more nuanced and evidence-based conversation. To this end, Watermark is happy to share "Rating Charity Overhead rates: The Limitation of Overhead to Determine Charity Performance" by Caroline Riseboro, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Development at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation. She highlights leading research from Canada, the US and the UK on the implications, and at times, unintended consequences of using overhead as a measure of charity effectiveness, such as debilitating underinvestment.       


Caroline wrote the paper for her studies at Carleton University's graduate program in Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. Sharilyn is honoured to have been part of the team of sector leaders to initiate this program - the first of its kind in Canada - to spur Canadian thought leadership and research on topics such as this.

Become a digital fundraising wizard - for only $45!


Canada Helps offers a leading platform that many small and mid-sized Canadian charities use for donating and fundraising online.  Declining response rates, increased postage costs, and shifting donor habits make it paramount for charities to improve their digital skills and develop strategies for growth.  


A charity itself, Canada Helps is now offering a comprehensive course on Online Donor Acquisition and Retention, led by industry experts - for a budget conscious $45!  Noting this accessible price point, tech-savvy President & CEO Marina Glogovac (former CEO of LavaLife Corporation and Group Publisher of St. Joseph's Media), "we're passionate about strengthening the charitable sector and levelling the playing field by eliminating differences in access to education between small and big charities." 


Take advantage of this opportunity and register today.

Is your board a Ferrari, a compact or a clunker?  Take the board tune-up survey


Give your board 1 point for each YES answer:



The board has articulated a clear mission, vision and set 

of values.


The board has defined strategic directions and regularly tracks progress towards objectives. 

The board acts as a unified whole, deciding and speaking with one voice.
The board monitors the quality and effectiveness of programs and services. 
The board ensures the organization has the necessary resources to fulfill its mission.

100% of board members make an annual personal financial gift and model a culture of philanthropy for the whole organization.


The board has a rigorous process in place for ongoing board building (identifying, recruiting and orienting new members, ongoing education, evaluation and succession etc.). 


The board approves an annual budget that reflects set priorities and monitors financial health, well-being and associated risks.


The board has the appropriate structure to carry out its legal duties of care, loyalty and obedience.


The board nurtures a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the CEO, annually evaluating their performance against set goals.


TOTAL: _____



High Performing Ferrari Like a Ferrari, even the most effective boards benefit from regular governance tune-ups to keep purring.  

Functional Compact As a compact car simply gets you from A to B, a functional board meets the minimum standard but will never be able to transform your organization.

Tired ClunkerNo one honestly loves driving a clunker.  And your organization's mission deserves better - time for a serious overhaul!


From  governance coaching and training (Sharilyn is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer to comprehensive assessments and trouble-shooting of specific challenges, Watermark can be your good-governance partner to ensure your board is performing at its best.


  • Ontario Trillium Foundation announces application 
    dates for new ReDesign 2015 granting program
  • Social justice and the fundraiser 
  • Effectively preparing volunteers for board service

Check out past issues here.