Bob Armstrong, SVP Vancouver
We spoke with Bob to learn more about his approach to engaged philanthropy.
What inspires your philanthropy?
I’m regularly reminded that most Canadians—most people around the world—don’t have the financial flexibility to choose to give back. I do what I do because I want to and because I can. I feel fortunate to have had a good life. I now have the ability to help others and I enjoy assisting where I can.
I was raised with the mindset of giving back as a responsibility, and I try to instill those values in my children, too. As a parent, supporting youth and the future of our community is an obvious cause. The future of Canada, the future of the world, sits with our youth, so I want to inspire and create a better society for them. It’s straightforward for me: helping others is its own reward.
What brought you to SVP, and what will keep you involved?
I joined SVP about eight years ago because the model appealed to me. I like the idea of contributing more than just dollars through time, talent, and treasure. SVP offers a unique way to truly engage in the community. That hands-on involvement is much more rewarding and impactful than just writing a cheque. The SVP model is a perfect fit for how I want to give back.
In terms of remaining involved, I appreciate that SVP does great due diligence in identifying opportunities where I can truly add value by utilizing my professional skills, like facilitating strategic planning sessions for Investees. I work with one or two Investees per year, and I think I’m able to have a meaningful impact. It’s a great feeling.
Why is collective philanthropic action important to you?
I think about it in terms of scale advantage. By pooling our talents and resources, we can make a more significant impact together than any of us could individually. You give up some personal control but gain the power of scale. As long as I’m aligned with the overall vision, then joining the collective enables me to multiply the good I can do. If 150 people make giving decisions separately, it doesn’t add up the same as uniting behind shared goals. With SVP’s model, one plus one equals three. I can see how the combined effort leads to real change, which is more fulfilling than going it alone.
Outside of your philanthropy, what lights you up?
I am lucky to have a diverse portfolio of board and advisory roles that keep me intellectually stimulated. No two are the same. I work with companies, nonprofits, and community organizations of all types and sizes. My days are never boring! I’m constantly engaged and challenged. I also cherish family vacations where we manage to get all my adult children together. As they get older, those chances become more and more precious.