foundation philanthropy – ceo's commentary
April 8th, 2013
One of the striking characteristics of the charitable sector is that aggressive marketing is highly frowned upon. We are seeing a bit more advertising than once was the norm but overhead cost is always an issue. Donors want their gifts delivering service and if marketing becomes too bold or too frequent, a questioning call can soon be expected.
With this in mind, I want to acknowledge the generous support that the media continually gives to community events and organizations. Agencies right across our city have significant impact on the quality of life we all enjoy. It is important that their stories be told.
The Winnipeg Foundation has enjoyed a long relationship with the Winnipeg Free Press enabling our Foundation Feature “stories” to appear every second week for more than a decade. Just recently I was a guest on Barbara Bowes’ Saturday morning radio show on CJOB. In mid-March Global TV aired on its show, Focus Manitoba, an interesting story about the generosity of Manitobans featuring a group of donors that established a scholarship fund with the Foundation. This kind of marketing really augments and stretches our budget and like all charities which benefit similarly, we say a sincere “thank you”.
If you share our belief that a more informed city is likely to be more caring and compassionate, then you may want to follow the stories that appear on Community News Commons. We are encouraging citizens to report on what’s important to them. Most of us are pretty tired of hearing about fires and police activity. The city is filled with people who are making a difference. Read about them; help them; join them.
It’s clear that with the benefit of a supportive media and a public engagement strategy, we will be stronger as a community and more effective at facing whatever challenges may come our way.
February 1st, 2013
Recently, we released our 2012 Annual Report and in it we had plenty of good news to share. Last year was a positive one for our Foundation, when the generosity of our community, combined with strong market returns, helped build our assets to more than $500 million (including those we manage on behalf of other Manitoba community foundations).
After so many years of recovery following the financial downturn of 2008, our investment returns were 12.2%. However, despite that strong showing, and new gifts totalling $26.1 million (the most we’ve received since 2004), last year also saw a slight decrease in our granting to $21.2 million (the second-highest in our history, but down from 2011’s $22.1 million).
In a year of such positive financial news for our Foundation, why did this happen?
Because The Winnipeg Foundation exists to serve our community in perpetuity, it’s important that our policies consider the long term. Our Spending Policy, which has been in place for many years, ensures the Foundation’s strong support of our community today and tomorrow by balancing current need for support with rebuilding capital. The amount we grant in a given year is determined by the average returns over the three previous years, mitigating any drastic market fluctuations and ensuring our community has a reliable source of support. So, despite our strong 2012, the average return over the past five years was only 3.28%.
Our Spending Policy contains a mechanism to address severe market downturns like the one experienced in 2008. It triggered a gradual decrease in the spending rate from our longstanding 5% to 4.0%. In 2013, we are at 4.2% and we expect to be at 4% in 2014. We expect to remain there for several years. Our projection model says that the spending rate will slowly increase, beginning in about 2018, but only long term market performance will dictate when or by how much.
It’s worth noting that despite the change in our spending rate, the dip in our granting has not been particularly severe. Thanks to the continued support and confidence of so many donors, combined with our policies aimed at stability and sustainability, we’ve been able to minimize the impact of the downturn on the charitable organizations that do so much in our community.
To access the Foundation’s Spending Policy, which also describes how we protect against inflation, click here. To read our 2012 Annual Report, click here.
Our staff is happy to answer any questions you may have about the Foundation’s Spending Policy and 2012 granting. Please feel free to contact us at 204.944.9474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 4th, 2013
Many of the 2,500 funds at The Winnipeg Foundation pay tribute to remarkable individuals who have shaped our community in a variety of ways. Some have done so very publically – playing key roles in business, politics and community leadership. Others have chosen quiet acts of generosity that will be felt for generations to come.
One of the newest of these funds honours someone who has served our community throughout his distinguished career as a lawyer and as a jurist as well as through active volunteerism with a wide variety of causes. Early this year, Richard J. Scott will retire from his post as Chief Justice of Manitoba, which he’s held since 1990. For friends, family and colleagues wishing to celebrate his years of service, the Chief Justice Richard J. Scott Tribute Fund has been established at The Winnipeg Foundation.
Chief Justice Richard Scott presenting a cheque to Manitoba Children's Museum, marking $100 million in cumulative grants achieved in 2001.
We’re very pleased to be home to the fund that recognizes someone who has been a long-time friend to our Foundation. Richard Scott served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors from 1990 to 2005, and as Chairman from 2001 to 2005. His tenure included incredible growth and important milestones. During his Chairmanship, the Foundation received a stunning $100 million gift – still the largest to a Canadian community foundation, reached $100 million in cumulative grants, and made the largest grant in our history – a $6 million contribution to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. During this time, the Foundation also proved itself an innovator and leader through the Centennial Neighbourhood Project, a 5-year, multi-faceted investment into one of Winnipeg’s most economically- and socially-challenged neighbourhoods.
While all these large-scale gifts, grants and projects garnered headlines, the Foundation continued, under Richard Scott’s steady leadership, to receive thousands of gifts from donors of all walks of life and make thousands of grants to a wide range of important community projects. Today, he remains an ambassador for the Foundation and chairs our Board Alumni Committee.
On behalf of The Winnipeg Foundation, I’m pleased to congratulate the Chief Justice on his retirement and thank him for his tremendous support and commitment to improving our community.
You can make a gift to the Chief Justice Richard J. Scott Tribute Fund, or any fund at the Foundation, through a secure on-line gift, over the phone, or by mail. Visit www.wpgfdn.org or call 204.944.9474.
November 29th, 2012
Winnipeggers are fiercely proud of our city and no one likes the fact that we are often portrayed as the child poverty capital of Canada. There are many factors that play into this reality—some economic, some demographic and some matters of public policy. To say the least, the situation is very challenging. How can we as individuals have an impact?
The Nourishing Potential Fund was created after consultation with agencies that serve the least advantaged kids in our city. We set two goals. First, Nourishing Potential would distribute, to youth-serving organizations, a total of $1 million over the five-year period from 2011 to 2015. And second, in order to sustain grants of at least $200,000 per year beyond 2015, we would try to build the capital in the fund to $5 million over the same period. These are not insignificant or easily achieved objectives, but we are making steady progress.
Just recently, the Nourishing Potential Advisory Committee reviewed the fourth round of applications to this program and, with these approvals, 57 grants totaling $362,796 have now been distributed. These grants help cover the cost of food, equipment and training for after-school programs that provide snacks and meals to Winnipeg kids.
Kids in the new kitchen at Rossbrook House.
Because Nourishing Potential was created in consultation with the community, it is not surprising that this new granting program has been well received. Early reports are consistently positive about the value of augmenting food budgets and teaching kids about good nutrition.
Everything that has been accomplished so far is because of 208 generous donors to the Nourishing Potential Fund. Like all funds at The Winnipeg Foundation, Nourishing Potential is supported by people from all walks of life: individuals, families, groups—and of course, companies, foundations and government agencies as well.
To each and every one of the 208 generous donors who have so far supported the Nourishing Potential Fund, your gifts are making a real difference not just for today, but for the long term. On behalf of the thousands of Winnipeg kids who are benefiting, we thank you.
September 27th, 2012
We all know there are homeless people in our city – people who live under bridges and sleep on cardboard boxes. Last week, we learned of a person walking downtown with no shoes. It was an international story that at once showed our city at its best: a bus driver who cared – and at its worst: the challenge of social inequity
That inspiring example has helped raise awareness levels about homelessness. Last week, our Community News Commons website had 134,000 hits and our Facebook page recorded 25,000 “likes” as people followed the story. It was a fitting lead in the first ever Homelessness Awareness Week in Winnipeg
“Change for the Better” is an effort to mobilize the community around supportive housing and employment programs that offer solutions. Tonight, I’m taking part in their CEO Sleepout event. I’ll be one of more than 40 Winnipeg CEOs spending the night on Winnipeg sidewalks to help raise awareness and support for this important issue. The discomfort of sleeping on the street for one night is hardly similar to the larger realities that face the least advantaged of Winnipeg citizens. But it does offer a tangible opportunity to help
Not everyone will give the shoes off their feet. But, we always have the opportunity to support homeless people with a donation. Your gift to Change for the Better goes to a good cause and every gift matters. Go to Change for the Better’s website.