Photo : Jeff Malo
GOOD FRIENDS, A COMMON CAUSE AND EXCELLENT NETWORKING. THIS POWERFUL COMBINATION IS BEHIND LET’S BOND, A COLLECTIVE OF YOUNG PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE USING THEIR SAVVY AND SKILLS TO RAISE MONEY TO BENEFIT LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS. WELCOME TO PHILANTHROPY 2.0.
For the last eight years, a group of young professionals has been changing the face of fundraising in Quebec. They may not be reinventing the wheel, but their approach and methods are as current as it gets. It’s impossible not to be inspired by the drive and energy of Let’s Bond, not to mention impressed by the fact that they have chosen mental illness as their cause. It was taboo that drew them all together in 2011. “The founding members could easily have chosen another focus for their efforts, but they decided on mental illness because it seemed that everyone had some kind of experience with depression, anxiety and stress, either personally, or through friends and relatives,” explains current president, Chris Harden. Their primary goal was to raise funds for organizations working in the field, and to change the way people think about mental illness. So, they began developing a network of contacts, built partnerships with Fondation Jeunes en Tête and the Douglas Foundation, and planned events designed to attract a new generation of donors. It was a quiet start with modest proceeds, but Let’s Bond soon found its stride. “From the first fundraiser, we knew something special was happening,” says Harden. “Eight years in, it’s clear that all the hard work and dedication is really paying off.”
Let’s Bond has raised more than $1M for the Fondation Jeunes en Tête program, Partners for Life, and for the Douglas Institute development fund. Partners for Life is a Quebec-wide program which aims to teach young people 14 and over, parents, and school staff how to recognize the signs of depression and guide people in need toward available resources. The Douglas Foundation supports patient care and their environment, research in neuroscience and mental illness, as well as training and education.
Let’s Bond raises money through two events tailored for young professionals. In Style with Holts is for fashionistas of all stripes who come together for an evening of glam, fashion shows and private shopping. But it’s the Urban Ball that really has people talking. Last year’s event attracted 1,000 people, and this year’s ball on September 14 is expected to be another smash hit.
Let’s Bond understands the strength in numbers, and they are using this collective power to raise awareness of the social isolation from which so many people with mental illness suffer. It’s a fresh, new approach … and it’s working.