GUEST BLOG – Georgia Strait Alliance receives grants for programs and capacity

By Cheryl Onciul – Fundraising Assistant

As one of the newest members of the Georgia Strait Alliance team, I am really excited to share some of the highlights of my 5 months as GSA’s Fundraising Assistant. In my work, I share GSA’s stories and plans, in the hope that like-minded Foundations and businesses will want to partner with us.

It was a busy spring, but well worth all the work as we have received news of exciting grants in recent weeks, notably from a couple of Canadian leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Vancity.

MEC’s Vancouver store recently approved a $2000 grant through their Urban Sustainability Grant Program for the expansion of our Clean Marine BC (CMBC) – Marina Eco-rating Program. The grant will help GSA promote the program and inspire more facilities to join the program, focusing on boating facilities in the Lower Mainland. Our voluntary program encourages marinas and other boating facilities to adopt environmental best practices, making positive impacts on waste, energy consumption and transportation.

MEC also awarded a $20,000 Capacity Building grant which supports the investment in tools and training that will increase GSA’s capacity to better engage supporters and members. With these funds, we are engaging Groundwire to install, provide training and integrate the Salesforce database program into our organization. This database and engagement program is a key technical part of our overall strategic planning process but the bottom line is it will help us stay connected with you, keep you updated on the latest happenings, and help us to empower more concerned citizens like you to become engaged in the pursuit of our shared vision for the region – a healthy Georgia Strait!

We are also very excited to let you know that GSA is among 15 organizations selected to receive a 2011 enviroFund award from Vancity for our Connecting Communities to a Healthy Strait program. In January of this year, we launched our online map, and these funds will help us to ramp it up as a way to connect with you on issues of concern in the Strait, as well as bringing these issues to the attention of local decision makers. With Vancity’s support, we will also be able to continue growing the map, adding more useful information and improving its reliability. The project also includes the development of our “Georgia Strait Protection Principles”. The Principles will be created with your input and aim to support the incorporation of marine habitat protection and restoration issues and values into urban planning and development.

It has been an exciting few months for me here at Georgia Strait Alliance, and a rewarding time. I remember the day I first met GSA’s Executive Director, Christianne Wilhelmson and Board Member Frank Tester. It was my job interview, and I was asked “what do you think would be the easiest part of working with Georgia Strait Alliance?” My response was “convincing funders to support GSA’s work.” It turns out, I was right. There was little doubt in my mind that in joining the Georgia Strait Alliance as a contractor, I would be joining a winning team. GSA’s programs are really making a difference to the health of the Strait. The programs are based on science, involve the people who most stand to benefit from them – residents of the region, are cost-effective, achieve measurable results, are collaborative, stand on a firm foundation of past successes, and are responsive to the changing needs of communities and the environment. It has been a real pleasure to share some of GSA’s stories with a few funders over the past few months. I look forward to continuing to do so, and hopefully to sharing a story or two with you too!

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