RESOLVE donors honoured for generosity

David Bissett named Lifetime Philanthropist

There are many words that have been used to describe David Bissett. Visionary. Pioneer. Altruistic. Generous. Humble. Now, two more have been added — Lifetime Philanthropist.

Bissett, founder of Bissett Investment Management and a lead donor to the RESOLVE Campaign, has been named the 2014 Lifetime Philanthropist as part of the Generosity of Spirit Awards.

The awards were announced as part of National Philanthropy Week by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Calgary and Area Chapter to honour those who, through their outstanding contributions of talent, leadership and financial support, are making a real difference in our community.

Cedarglen Homes and Laureen DuBois were also recognized through the Generosity of Spirit Awards. Cedarglen Homes was named Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist. Its Cedarglen Living division has given a Visionary Gift to RESOLVE, through the construction of Stepping Stone Manor. DuBois, received the Hazel Gillespie Community Investment Leadership Award.

“We are thrilled with the recognition our donors are receiving for their outstanding community leadership,” says Sheryl Barlage, Executive Director of RESOLVE. “David is a true role model who brings creative thinking and practical solutions to social challenges.”

Bissett has spent his life inspiring others through actions more than words. He has supported a wide variety of causes particularly in education, the environment and homelessness.

“In my experience, philanthropy doesn’t have to be about some grandiose idea of changing the whole world,” says Bissett. “It’s about finding a way to have meaningful impact on people’s lives and doing whatever you can to help those in our community.”

Bissett’s ongoing commitment to helping the homeless has made a transformational impact in this city.

He was instrumental in shaping the RESOLVE Campaign prior to its launch by sharing his business acumen. And he made a lead gift of $3.4 million to the Campaign, directed to the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF). This follows numerous gifts in support of affordable housing, including Alice Bissett Place, a 114-unit complex in Inglewood built through a partnership of the Calgary Home Builders Foundation, the CHF and Horizon Housing Society.

“The homeless sector needs more champions who demonstrate Mr. Bissett’s level of dedication,” says Alan Norris, RESOLVE Campaign Chair, Chair of the CHF, and President and CEO of Brookfield Residential. “His commitment is exemplary and makes him a leading voice in providing vulnerable Calgarians with homes.”

Bissett has said that reading celebrated Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell’s essay “Million-Dollar Murray” served as a tipping point of sorts that convinced him of the wisdom of investing in solutions to homelessness.

Gladwell’s 2006 piece in the New Yorker magazine details the challenges of Murray Barr, a chronically homeless man in Reno, Nevada, and the costs to society as a whole. Barr’s plight shines a spotlight on the huge social and financial costs of trying to manage homelessness instead of investing in solutions to end it.

RESOLVE would like to extend a special thank you to Eva Friesen, President and CEO of The Calgary Foundation, and Wendelin Fraser, Associate Professor of Bissett School of Business, for supporting David Bissett’s nomination.