BCF Release Final Vital Signs Summary Reports

November 16, 2019

The Bermuda Community Foundation [BCF] is observing “Community Foundation Week” with the release of its final Vital Signs Summary Reports.

A spokesperson said, “The Bermuda Community Foundation [BCF] is observing “Community Foundation Week” with the release of its final Vital Signs Summary Reports. As in years past, participating community foundations help raise awareness on philanthropy by sharing information about the work the sector is doing to address persistent civic and economic challenges.

“The Bermuda Vital Signs is a community-driven, data-collection programme which ultimately facilitates a “community check-up” to measure quality of life.

“Since the 2018 release of its first Vital Signs study, the BCF has convened with approximately 70 individuals from community organisations, not-for-profits, businesses and government to investigate the most important issues identified by this community study.

Michael Schrum [BCF Chair] and Myra Virgil [BCF Managing Director]

Michael Schrum and Myra Virgil Bermuda Nov 2019

“Vital Signs itself uses local knowledge to measure the vitality of a community and provide direction to improve the collective quality of life. It was originally developed by Community Foundations of Canada and has been adopted around the world. Once the information has been gathered, it provides a benchmark measurement for use by individuals and philanthropic organisations, such as the BCF, to target their philanthropic activity more effectively.

“The Bermuda Vital Signs research process began in 2017 with the community study on what people considered the key contributors to quality of life in Bermuda. Responses from a representative sample of the population guided the ensuing work.

“Overall, the programme has involved hundreds of hours of research, in which the BCF team received support from Strategic Evaluation Consulting. Experts from the community have also been a key component of the work, examining the public opinion data from the main Vital Signs report as well as relevant local and international data. As a result, nine reports have now been completed. This week summary reports are released on: Citizen Engagement & Civic Responsibility, Diversity & Inclusion, Safety & Security, Housing and Education. Last year’s reports were on: Health & Wellbeing [Physical Health & Mental Health]; Arts, Culture and Heritage; the Economy and Work [Employment and Cost of Living]; the Environment; and Volunteering & Charitable Contribution. The BCF, and potentially other funders, will use information in these reports to guide funding decisions through 2022. The ultimate goal is to improve and strengthen outcomes in the civil sector. The summary reports are available on at www.bcf.bm under “Vital Signs Convening Reports”.

“We are particularly grateful to the more than 150 individuals who joined us across 12 sessions to determine what would move the needle in the key areas,” said Michael Schrum, Chairman of the BCF Board of Directors. “Most importantly, we have had decision-makers at the table, which means the resulting reports have tremendous credibility. The depth and breadth of the Vital Signs initiative requires collaboration across the community in order to succeed. Thank you to all convening participants.”

Dr Myra Virgil, Managing Director of the BCF, said: “It’s interesting to note that a high percentage of sector experts at our convenings said that these ‘Vital Conversations’ as we call them had inspired them to re-examine their own organisational outcomes. Given the essential nature of the work of Bermuda’s not-for-profit sector, and the decreasing availability of resources, it’s crucial that we target the most significant needs and make best use of resources.

“The work to date has been more extensive than in most other jurisdictions, partly because the data had not been collected previously. It took considerable resources, but it will be worth it in the long run.

“BCF’s primary mission is to build a substantial community endowment fund from which grants are made annually. We will use these reports to direct its giving and to advise other funders. We hope funders will be encouraged to work with us to support action in the critical areas that the reports identify.”

Dr Virgil also talked about the role of community foundations, which she said “represent one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy today. Worldwide there are 1700 of them, and every state in the USA has at least one community foundation. They are large and small, urban and rural, all working to advance solutions on a wide range of social issues in their own ways. In Bermuda, we are just one community foundation, but we have found ways to facilitate discussion and a mechanism for tackling problems collaboratively. As our contribution to Bermuda and as a tribute to the global effort to highlight local-impact philanthropy, this is just one of the roles we can responsibly play.”

BCF will host a series of Vital Signs Boot Camps on January 28, 2020. More information and sign-up links will be available in the new year. To learn more about donor-advised philanthropy go to www.bcf.bm. To read about the community foundation movement visit here.

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