The word “philanthropy” comes from the Greek words philos (friend) and anthropos (human), and the act of philanthropy springs from our consideration for other human beings. Philanthropists, be they investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders, employees or ordinary citizens, are friends of humankind who are motivated by caring.

Manon Durocher, Director of Philanthropic Development at FitSpirit, summarizes our organization’s ongoing relationship with its donors: “The donors who choose to support FitSpirit do it out of conviction, because they believe in the cause, and sometimes for personal reasons. Every donor is different, but whatever the nature of their support or its scope, it is vital to us. FitSpirit wants to express its deepest gratitude and appreciation to each and every one of its donors, sponsors and partners.”

Rise of social entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurship is becoming part of the Quebec philanthropic landscape, alongside donations in cash and in kind, volunteering, responsible purchasing and community engagement. Social entrepreneurship is a form of mutual support that involves creating a private enterprise whose primary mission is to support a cause rather than to make a profit.

FitSpirit’s President and Founder, Claudine Labelle, was definitely a social entrepreneurship pioneer. Her passion and her vision drove her to create FitSpirit and spearhead its philanthropic development. “For the philanthropic side, I surrounded myself with experts in the field, such as Manon Durocher,” she says.

Passion and optimism
Philanthropy has always been a central focus of Manon Durocher’s professional life. A dynamic, creative woman who is open to other people’s ideas, she has an impressive track record: “I started at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and then joined the Canadian Cancer Society, where I worked my way up the ladder for 10 years. Next, I became the first Executive Director of the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation and served in that capacity for three years. After that, I led a five-member team at The Lighthouse, Children and Families for six years. In 2016, I moved over to FitSpirit, where I strive to inspire others with my optimism and original ideas.”

“There’s no denying that philanthropic development can involve some major challenges, such as complex funding applications and accountability requirements, donor burnout as well as lack of resources,” Manon says. “But at FitSpirit, thanks to our innovative ideas and our efforts to acknowledge our donors and earn their loyalty, philanthropic development is more dynamic than ever.”

Manon Durocher is tackling FitSpirit’s challenges with energy, passion and a clear recognition of the fundamental role that donors play in FitSpirit’s long-term success.

FitSpirit’s philanthropic achievements
“When I joined the FitSpirit team,” Manon recalls, “I saw that it was receiving donations from the corporate sector as well as from the general public. When FitSpirit was founded, it had support from its founding partner, Saputo, and funding from Québec en Forme. Its first major fundraising campaign, Let’s ramp up the movement, attracted major donors. And signature events such as the Father-Daughter Ball and the Mother/Daughter Relay have contributed to our philanthropic development, as have the Peer-to-Peer Campaign and the FitSpirit Circle of Influence.”

It goes without saying that the FitSpirit idea laboratory will have to come up with original new creative projects to support the organization’s ambitious expansion plans for the coming years. Thanks to the energy, passion and commitment of the entire FitSpirit team, philanthropic development will continue to evolve and innovate while remaining a priority for FitSpirit.

For more information about current trends in philanthropy in Quebec, see the latest Épisode study (in French) here. (click on the link in the upper right-hand corner)

Thanks to Mélanie Dugré for preparing this article.