Mark Bonham calls himself a monetary ‘punk.’ Why he went from elevating hell to elevating cash for LGBTQ reasons

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Mark Bonham calls himself a financial ‘punk.’ Why he went from raising hell to raising money for LGBTQ causes


Mark Bonham is sitting in a cafe at U of T’s Hart Space as waiters set tables for the lunch crowd, with the discordant clinking of silverware and jazz taking part in within the background.

A flat November mild brightens the room with its darkish picket tables and hearth. An arched stone door is within reach, like person who would possibly result in an internal sanctum of a few historical church.

Mark Bonham is pictured at University of Toronto. Bonham, who was honoured for his philanthropy last month by fundrasising professionals, has endowed the groundbreaking Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at U of T, helped expand Casey House, and helped kids in Ontario’s North.
Mark Bonham is pictured at College of Toronto. Bonham, who used to be honoured for his philanthropy closing month through fundrasising pros, has endowed the groundbreaking Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Range Research at U of T, helped amplify Casey Space, and helped youngsters in Ontario’s North.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Megastar)

That is the place Bonham discovered a kind of benevolence, even supposing no longer the non secular type.

The alumnus gave the college $200,000 just about 20 years in the past to ascertain an endowment for a direction on LGBTQ problems — considered one of his first philanthropic gestures.

In the end, that become the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Range Research after he donated every other $1 million. The centre is the biggest sexual variety degree-granting centre on this planet, with 350 undergraduate scholars and 25 grasp’s and PhD scholars, and the endowment is as much as $eight million.

That, along side different efforts to lift cash, just lately gained Bonham reputation as an impressive philanthropist from the Affiliation of Fundraising Pros. The ones efforts come with thousands and thousands for Casey Space medical institution and a Toronto LGBTQ adolescence safe haven opening in 2019.

“It’s so great to peer Mark get that reputation. He’s so pretty,” says Lisa McDonald, Casey Space’s communications officer. “His used to be a transformational reward.”

Just about 20 years in the past, Bonham gave the medical institution $2.Five million, seed cash for a diffusion.

“We’re no longer used to those multimillion-dollar presents,” says McDonald. “It used to be very visionary of him to suppose we’d finally end up the place we’re. He used to be a believer and a supporter.”

Philanthropy is Bonham’s 2nd profession, which adopted his first, within the industry international.

Years in the past, a senior industry rival advised him he used to be mountain climbing a hill of sand on his fingers and knees. However he stored mountain climbing. He based two mutual fund corporations, handiest to be compelled out of each, the second one with a slap at the wrist.

Later on, he redirected his industry acumen and long-term making plans talents.

“I believed, I’m no longer going to begin a 3rd mutual fund corporate,” he says. “I’m going to concentrate on giving again.”


Photos of Mark S. Bonham selling 50/50 tickets in Northern Ontario to raise money for charity.
Pictures of Mark S. Bonham promoting 50/50 tickets in Northern Ontario to lift cash for charity.

To mention that Mark Bonham is a self-starter is a gross understatement.

The 59-year-old has been self-reliant since age 12, when he went to reside with a foster circle of relatives in Elliot Lake in northern Ontario after his oldsters divorced and he didn’t get along side his mom’s new spouse.

“I feel it used to be roughly mutual that I might reside in a foster house versus with them,” says Bonham, who spent his early years in Guelph. His mom died a few years in the past; he by no means noticed her after he left house and he has little touch along with his 4 brothers and two sisters.

That transfer used to be in 1971, when the mining the city used to be descending from a height because the uranium capital of the sector. Handiest two corporations nonetheless operated there and just about three-quarters of citizens had moved away.

His foster oldsters, he says, “had been great, don’t get me improper, however I wouldn’t believe them my alternative circle of relatives. I used to be by no means that just about them.” However his early life wasn’t depressing.

“I turned into very impartial and slightly self-supporting,” says Bonham. “I by no means were given into medication or the rest.”

He used to be the youngest child in his highschool magnificence — he’d skipped grades 4 and 5 — however he thrived through becoming a member of teams just like the yearbook committee, the place he used to be editor.

“I didn’t in reality have a social lifestyles, it used to be extra the standard stuff you bring to mind {that a} good child would do,” he says.

He used to be entrepreneurial even then, launching “Circarnifair,” a turducken-like title that the 14-year-old made up through combining circus, carnival and honest. The development raised $20, partially thru a haunted wooded area path with a 10-cent admission. He gave the cash to the Salvation Military.

Bonham began his personal paper, interviewing youngsters for tales concerning the neighbourhood. He handwrote them on two pages, double-sided, and delivered the editions.

“I didn’t know I used to be an entrepreneur on the time, however I at all times sought after to be in industry,” says Bonham. “I cherished to learn annual studies, and notice who used to be at the board of administrators. I knew I sought after to have affect.

“Most probably I didn’t know what it supposed on the time, however I sought after to be a president of an organization.”

He completed Grade 13 with the absolute best marks in seven topics, together with song and math. However he confronted every other hurdle.

His steerage counsellor and his oldsters sought after him to check chemistry at U of T’s Scarborough campus. They didn’t suppose he may care for the principle campus within the giant town.

Bonham used to be made up our minds to check economics and industry on the college. He advised them he would take a yr off and paintings to pay for his research. His foster oldsters had been dissatisfied and kicked him out of the home.

For a yr, he labored at a {hardware} chain. Bonham turned into warehouse supervisor and stored sufficient for college.

He were given in to U of T and lived in place of abode, downtown.


Mark Bonham's donation helped buy a run-down Victorian house, which was renovated and expanded so that Casey House hospital is now 53,000 square feet. The new building officially opened last year.
Mark Bonham’s donation helped purchase a run-down Victorian space, which used to be renovated and expanded in order that Casey Space medical institution is now 53,000 sq. ft. The brand new development formally opened closing yr.  (DOUBLESPACE PHOTOGRAPHY)

Bonham used to be doing his grasp’s on the London Faculty of Economics when he made up our minds to return again to Toronto and get started a mutual fund.

He’d earned a trade diploma at U of T operating part-time and in the summertime at Canada Lifestyles, the place he discovered how to shop for and promote shares in mutual finances and do the accounting.

He labored there every other two and a part years earlier than heading to London. All through his analysis there, he discovered the Canadian mutual fund marketplace used to be underdeveloped. A federal analysis paper mentioned plans to decontrol the monetary business and make allowance cross-ownership, i.e. letting banks purchase funding corporations.

“I believed if the banks get into mutual finances, with their nationwide distribution, the business is in reality going to take off,” says Bonham. “So I made up our minds to return again to Canada and get started a mutual fund.”

In 1986, he co-founded BPI — Bonham Assets Investments — with James McGovern, a scholar he met at U of T. The seed cash got here from pals who invested $5,000 each and every.

Bonham’s early goals had been in any case coming true. BPI used to be in a position to buy different mutual fund corporations after he persuaded banks to mortgage them cash, the use of the fund’s redemption charges as collatoral. The ones charges are paid when a person redeems investments.

As of late, the observe is referred to as securitization, says Bonham, however again then it had by no means been used.

Bonham used that fashion to shop for 14 extra mutual finances. In 10 years, BPI had property of $4-billion.

In 1995, BPI’s board compelled Bonham out, making McGovern CEO.

A Globe and Mail tale a couple of years later stated some co-workers and fiscal advisers complained he used to be aloof and hard to paintings with.

Six months after he used to be compelled out, Bonham based Strategic Worth Corp., with an English service provider financial institution as a spouse, and took the corporate public. Bonham started purchasing different mutual finances as a enlargement technique. However in 2002, Bonham used to be compelled to promote Strategic after a South African funding financial institution purchased his spouse’s percentage and insisted he both purchase them out or put his quarter stake within the corporate up on the market.

“I didn’t have that roughly cash,” says Bonham.

He used to be additionally sued for wrongful dismissal through a handful of the corporate’s executives, two of whom alleged they had been let cross after the corporate learn their emails, in step with the Globe tale.

A couple of months after he offered Strategic Worth, the Ontario Securities Fee dominated he couldn’t be an organization director or officer for 3 years as a result of Bonham had manually priced positive stocks in 3 finances for a duration in 1997-98 with out “written insurance policies or procedures in position in regards to the valuation of securities.”

Bonham says they had been most well-liked stocks that hardly ever traded and with no marketplace worth, anyone needed to “put a price on the ones stocks.” Each the OSC and Bonham say he by no means profited in my view from the valuations.

“It used to be very irritating,” says Bonham. “I did have a name constructed of being kind of the younger punk within the business.”


Mark Bonham selling 50/50 tickets in northern Ontario to raise money for charity.
Mark Bonham promoting 50/50 tickets in northern Ontario to lift cash for charity.  (Provided)

The tables on the Hart Space eating place at U of T are just about all set, able for the lunch crowd to reach.

Bonham first gave the varsity cash round the similar time he got here out as homosexual. He started becoming concerned within the LGBTQ group and discovered he can have an affect on social problems.

“I in reality imagine that schooling is a core element to growing a society,” says Bonham. “And the alternatives, and sticking at school, finding out, understanding what you need to do together with your lifestyles thru that procedure,” he says. “All of it got here out of my background out of Elliot Lake.”

Bonham says when he first began in finance, homosexual males weren’t welcome. “It’s handiest been just lately, the closing 15 years, that that has modified,” he says. “To the business’s credit score, particularly in funding control, there has had a whole reversal.”

He tells of when he introduced BPI and met a brokerage company to invite if his may get on an licensed listing, which means the brokerage would promote BPI’s mutual finances to its shoppers.

The fellow took him right into a stockroom, sat him down and advised him all of the packing containers surrounding them had been prospectuses for mutual finances {that a} staff of best brokerages had been about to release. “We’re going to place younger punks such as you into bankruptcy,” he advised Bonham. “So that you suppose you’re going to get on our licensed listing, suppose once more.”

Bonham by no means were given at the listing, however two years later, when the mutual fund staff used to be up on the market, he purchased it.

“That’s the character of the business,” he says. “It’s aggressive. It’s masculine.”

However by the point he’d reached his mid-30s, he sought after a spouse and a circle of relatives.

When he got here out, it “used to be very difficult in my view, but additionally for my pals,” says Bonham. “I misplaced a large number of pals once I got here out as homosexual.”

A couple of years later, he gave Casey Space $2.Five million, partially to shop for a run-down Victorian space around the side road at the nook of Jarvis and Isabella, which used to be renovated and expanded in order that the medical institution is now 53,000 sq. ft. The brand new development formally opened closing yr. Bonham used to be additionally an instrumental member of the staff that raised the remainder of the cash.

He created the Mark S. Bonham Charitable Basis in 2002, and gave cash to the Inside of Out LGBTQ movie pageant to endow a scholarship for a filmmaker. He endowed the centre for sexual variety research.

Extra just lately, he co-chaired a fundraising marketing campaign for Egale Centre, a homeless safe haven for LGBTQI2S adolescence, at Dundas and Sherbourne Sts. With Ed Clark, former head of TD Financial institution, and Martha McCain, who’s at the board of the Margaret and Wallace McCain Circle of relatives Basis, he raised $16 million in six months for the 35-bed facility. The centre will space adolescence for as much as a yr and supply disaster counselling to assist them go back to college or in finding jobs.

Toronto Mayor John Tory and then premier Kathleen Wynne were among the dignitaries who helped Bonham officially open the Casey House expansion.
Toronto Mayor John Tory after which premier Kathleen Wynne had been a number of the dignitaries who helped Bonham formally open the Casey Space growth.  (Provided)

Lisa McDonald of Casey Space says Bonham helps fundraise to construct a rooftop terrace and therapeutic lawn for sufferers, and so they’re nearing their purpose of $500,000.

He’s additionally written a lot of books, together with one on LGBTQ leaders, and based the web page QueerBio.com

This summer time, he went as much as communities in northern Ontario and offered 50/50 tickets for We Are the Villagers, which finances extracurricular actions akin to hockey or song for underprivileged youngsters “I might say at anyone time I’m fascinated by 12 to 15 tasks like this,” says Bonham, who’s unmarried. “Possibly I’m a little bit too concerned.”

He remains energetic within the funding control industry, serving to pals and acquaintances with wealth control. He sees industry and philanthropy as parallels.

“It’s robust. It’s impactful,” says Bonham of fundraising. “It’s like a industry to me, that you’ll be able to take your goals and in truth make sure trade and affect other folks’s lives.

“I really like seeing the end result.”

Patty Winsa is a Toronto-based knowledge reporter. Achieve her by means of e-mail: [email protected]

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