Photo: FGCF's ( a DKM grantee) first completed Ethiopian project - the re-built Sebatamit elementary school. New facilities were built and trees planted as part of the school greening program (refer to the “before” photo in the “our work” section).
The DKM Foundation (DKM) was established and funded, by D. Keith MacDonald as a private family foundation in 2011. DKM became a Canadian registered charity in 2012. DKM is a self-funded, secular, charitable organization that works directly with our beneficiaries, partners, and local levels of government. At DKM we value integrity, respect, altruism, entrepreneurialism, collaboration, and innovation. We build meaningful and collaborative relationships with our partners and beneficiaries. By addressing some root causes of poverty, our goal is to meaningfully, and sustainably, better lives in the communities we work with. We believe in and promote, equal opportunity, well being and dignity for all.
Our origin story
In 2012, I travelled to Ethiopia with a small Canadian charitable organization that I had been supporting for several years. Their work was focused exclusively in Ethiopia. I wanted to see first hand the work that the organization was doing. During my travels, I was repeatedly astounded by the level of poverty in Ethiopia, by the impact our work could make on individuals and communities, and by just how far small amounts of money could go to have meaningful results. I was impressed by how entire communities were eager to truly partner with us on projects, by contributing financial and human capital alongside ours. I saw Ethiopians as a proud, industrious, people with strong family, community, and cultural bonds. They were very appreciative of the partner support we provided in their communities. I participated in many celebratory feasts of appreciation, prepared by whole communities, who in many cases waited for hours for our arrival to their remote locations.
One project in particular during the 2012 trip encapsulated everything for me. We had partnered with a community in northern Ethiopia to build a foot/cart bridge across the Blue Nile (a tributary of the Nile River). They came seeking our help because every year, during the 5-6 month rain and flood period, dozens of people would drown attempting to cross the river. This had likely been going on for centuries. People would risk the crossing to visit family, receive medical care, buy supplies, and attend funerals. We agreed to partner with them to do this. The charity provided most of the financing, materials, and engineering expertise, while the community members provided most of the labour and financed some costs. The bridge was completed in less than a year, on budget, for a total cost of just $90,000CDN.
Fortunately, our trip coincided with the bridge grand opening celebration. I was in attendance, along with four others from the charity and an estimated 10,000+ community members. The level of community joy and appreciation was palpable that day - and of course, they provided a delicious feast in our honour!
In stark contrast to this; once I returned to Calgary, the controversial Peace Bridge was just opening for use. This footbridge was placed between two nearby, existing footbridges across the Bow River. This additional bridge was deemed both unnecessary and unwanted by most Calgarians, especially given the delays and cost overruns which pushed completion costs to more than $25 million CDN. The disparity between need, cost, and impact on lives between these two bridge projects could not have been more opposite. This one example showed me the glaring differences between developing vs. developed countries and people’s concepts of need, priorities, and which choices are made (or not made) to impact people’s lives.
- D. Keith MacDonald, Founder & Managing Director
founder & managing director
D. Keith MacDonald
Over the last ten years or so, I have developed an increasing desire to give back, in more substantial ways, to help those less fortunate. I am very grateful for the career successes I have accomplished over the last 40 years in the Calgary oil sector, and I wish to parlay this success into the satisfaction of greater philanthropic involvement. I view this as a new career challenge which I am committed to and I approach with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Prior to 2012, my main philanthropic donations were directed to the Calgary and Area United Way (CAUW). After a decade of growing my philanthropic involvement passively, I decided to create the DKM Foundation to focus on giving back in a more involved, direct, and impactful manner.
Largely through my experiences in Ethiopia I decided to focus the philanthropic efforts of the DKM Foundation to the under-served people of sub-Saharan Africa. It is there where some of the world’s greatest need exists. It is also where small amounts of money can go a long way towards delivering enormous positive impact to huge numbers of people and their communities.
I joined DKM Foundation (DKM) after I moved from Europe to Calgary to be with Keith in 2017. Keith and I discovered early in our relationship that we shared a passion for giving back; to help generate positive, lasting change for those in need. So when I came to Calgary, I was excited to be part of DKM, to make a contribution, and together with Keith work to further the vision of DKM.
Originally from San Francisco, California, I moved to Florence, Italy in 1991. There I learned my business expertise from master artisans, and colleagues, and flourished as an entrepreneur, continually expanding my business for 26 years. While in Florence I spent years working on various initiatives to give back to the community where I had such a rewarding career. Those initiatives grew increasingly larger, and in time grew to other geographical locations, eventually reaching international scope.
Through my philanthropic endeavours to date my main focus has become giving in a mindful way. I like collaborating in the projects I am involved with. I am passionate about creating partnerships to address the problems and challenges at hand, that create solutions to help people and communities move forward into their next level of growth, I dedicate my experience to making lasting change, with an eye to sustainable growth. For it is through lasting, sustainable change that communities and organizations are able to truly grow and evolve on their own.
I am excited to be a part of the DKM team, and together with Keith I look forward to contributing to the current, and future, projects and partnerships of the Foundation.