Data, Dialogue and Decision-Making: Program Design in COVID Recovery/Rebuild

Philanthropy During a Pandemic 
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anil Patel purposefully embedded himself within a handful of social purpose organizations that operated in different domains but needed to rapidly design and deploy new programs and services to their constituents. The two primary organizations are the pan-Canadian philanthropic organization Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) and the GTA-based farmer-to-table platform Graze and Gather Foods (G&G).

The CFC was tasked to mobilize their network of 190 local community foundations organizations to help with emergency response funding through programs, such as the $100M Emergency Community Support Fund ($100M) and the Canadian Healthy Community Initiative ($40M). The G&G provided an online platform that currently allows 60+ farmers to sell their 500+ products to customers from within the GTA when health restrictions completely changed the way we shop and sell, especially when contactless delivery became a prerequisite for delivery services.

Throughout CFC and G&G COVID ‘pivots’, both entities deepened their commitment to ensuring the most vulnerable stakeholders in their respective communities were not further disproportionately disadvantaged during the pandemic. For CFC it was equity-seeking nonprofits and charities who have traditionally received less funding (who in turn then had fewer resources to deliver timely services and activities to their constituents) than mainstream nonprofits and charities. For G&G it was supporting small scale farmers who found themselves competing against more sophisticated food delivery companies and antiquated farming policies (such as production threshold limits on hobby farms). In the winter of 2021, they successfully wrote and won a grant from the Government of Canada’s Impact Canada Food Waste Reduction Challenge.

Fellowship Work at the Centre
Some of the questions Anil would explore during his fellowship are: 

  • If rapid-response policy-making/program roll-out is a prerequisite for equitable recovery and rebuild, then how do design methodologies and practices need to be re-built from the ground up?
  • If rebuilding from the ground up is an opportunity to rethink co-design and co-creation, then what tools, frameworks and technologies can best support highly collaborative work?
  • If highly collaborative work is viewed as a practice, then what skill-sets, operational readiness, technology infrastructure and data-literacy is required within philanthropic and social purpose organizations
  • If data literacy remains to be an important component of dialogue and decision-making, then how do philanthropic and social purpose organizations fine-tune their mastery in it to shape public policy in the years to come.

As a facilitator, Anil will be convening dialogues with key partners to strategize and co-create together. As a visual thinker, he will be producing diagrams, illustrations, flow charts and other interactive documentation where he will be adding and annotating in a sharable format with colleagues and collaborators.