Oak Tree 3

The Oak Tree Project was launched in 2014 to demonstrate how philanthropy is changing by engaging communities and strengthening local non-profits.

Strengthening volunteerism in our community

For Oak Tree Project 3, the focus was on the best ideas to attract, develop, or celebrate volunteerism, strengthening local charities, individually or in collaboration.

“Just cutting a cheque wasn’t the right fit for us” commented Mike Hyrn from the Mactaggart family. “We wanted to build something that we could point to as a new approach to giving that wasn’t just about money.” For our third iteration, the Oak Tree Project wanted to help non-profits in the community find new, creative ways to engage and support volunteers.

By adopting volunteerism for the third Oak Tree Project, we hoped to help move the needle a little bit. Getting more people in the community talking about volunteering, celebrating our existing volunteer base, and even stimulating the development of some new ideas: all was worth celebrating at the Oak Tree finale.


The process was similar to previous Oak Tree Projects, where nominated charities were submitted a program or dea, and the public was able to vote for the charity of their choice. We then gathered for a grand finale to hear pitches from the finalists at a finale event and, all together, award the winning charity with a $5,000 donation.

By the third chapter of the Oak Tree Project, more than $80,000 had been donated to Guelph/Wellington charities and there were more than 4,000 comments or stories captured about their impact in the community.


The winning charity was The Elliott Community. This charity had the idea to improve the quality of life of residents suffering from dementia through a volunteer-led Music and Memory program.

The four other finalists:

This year alone, over $32,000 was donated to charities and over 2,000 impact stories came through surrounding the participating 20 charities.

Finale Photos

*Shelldale Family Gateway: Formerly known as Onward Willow Better Beginnings, Better Futures