Wildlife centre seeks partner to help sustain services

A new kind of charitable sponsorship ­— or rather partnership — is being sought by the Medicine River Wildlife Centre.

A new kind of charitable sponsorship ­— or rather partnership — is being sought by the Medicine River Wildlife Centre.

Centre executive director Carol Kelly is a strong proponent of the kind of “venture philanthropy” described in a Tim Hortons commercial. Tim Hortons officials are shown helping coffee growers in South America market their product instead of just writing them a cheque and walking away.

“I think companies like to get involved,” said Kelly — not only is it more satisfying than making a single donation, it also gets their corporate name connected longer to a worthy cause.

Kelly would like her wildlife rehabilitation centre to be some corporation’s good cause.

Rather than seeking sponsors to write a one-time cheque, Kelly is seeking venture philanthropists who will commit to a several-year partnership with her Spruce View-area wildlife centre, which needs a facility redevelopment and upgrade.

Kelly would like the corporation’s advice, as well as financial contribution. “I’d like them to stay with us, to see our goals out to the end.”

Among her aims is attaining greater sustainability through a new endowment fund, and taking a deeper plunge into the tourism business. “We want to make tourism a bigger source of our income.”

Recent high school graduates from Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France have volunteered at the centre for several summer months over the last three years, as a way of gaining life experience and having an adventure before starting university.

Kelly, who gets the word out to overseas students through an international travel opportunities site, said the enthusiastic volunteers have learned quickly and have saved her from having to hire summer help.

Kelly’s quest for a venture philanthropist will be featured in an article in the January edition of Alberta Venture magazine.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com