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Giving Back and the Gift of Time - A Conversation with Jennifer Thompson

Charitable giving makes the work we do as a not for profit possible. Despite the pressures that the COVID-19 pandemic placed on giving, reports from Statistics Canada indicate that in 2020 the total donation amounts reported by tax filers increased to close to $10.6 billion. At a point in time when incomes and livelihoods were lost as a result of the pandemic, donors stepped up and helped ease financial burdens for both non-profits and general populations.

This past month, our Communications team sat down with Jennifer Thompson - the trailblazing BC-based founder and CEO of Herstasis Health to find out what giving back means to her. She is an expert in the commercialization of Applied Science inventions, particularly with an engineering focus, and avid supporter of EWB.

Jennifer has a Master’s degree in Economics but has always had a passion for Engineering and Science - so it’s no surprise that she was drawn to EWB’s work and the role that Engineers can play as problem-solvers. Working principally in the startup space, Jennifer has helped a number of engineering-based organizations start and grow, raise capital, and set up a solid governance foundation.

Jennifer is also a philanthropist with UNICEF Canada’s Women UNLimited program. During a trip to Ghana with UNICEF in 2019, she used a simple, yet incredibly effective tool called a Tippy Tap . This tool makes hand washing easy and sterile using just a plastic jug with a lid, string and sticks and is placed beside the new outdoor toilets installed by the project to replace open defecation in villages.

Upon returning to Canada, she began to read about other simple but effective tools that anyone can make using simple machines like levers and pulleys (rather than tractors and proprietary agricultural seeds). Her first call was to EWB to “understand the opportunities available to Canadian engineers to learn about on-the-ground needs of other global citizens, and design solutions for them that reflect the circumstances on the ground, not as we might imagine them to be.”

Since then, Jennifer has supported EWB as an advisor and feels excited about initiatives born out of the organization such as the Virtual Talent xChange. Our five-point Impact Framework is also closely aligned to her day to day work and volunteer engagements. As a supporter of EWB Jennifer values the stories that come out of our organization. Of global youth striving to support each other with their skills and experience . Of innovative projects like EWB UBC’s Smoke Free Homes and the Calgary Professional Chapter’s Water Movement that can meaningfully impact lives. For Jennifer, giving back does not have to be in monetary terms; there is something deeply important about giving your time to causes you believe in. Her own roster holds a breadth of non-profit experiences - as a board member for the Elizabeth Fry Society, as a grant reviewer on the National Science and Engineering Research Council and as a philanthropist with UNICEF Canada. Jennifer’s advice is that “giving back doesn’t start when you’re 50, 60 and 70, giving back starts right away in your youth”.

With support from incredible donors like Jennifer, our organization inches closer and closer to our mission to address the root causes of poverty and inequality by investing in people and ideas that will continue to build an equitable and sustainable world.

If you can, consider supporting our work through a direct donation or by connecting with us about community and professional initiatives that you can be a part of!

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