foundation philanthropy – ceo's commentary
November 8th, 2013
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second. No region in Canada has a more distinguished record in these conflicts than southern Manitoba.
Tomb of the unknown soldier. Photo from Flickr, taken by mostlyshine
Among the many endowments at The Winnipeg Foundation are some created to honour those called to serve, some of whom lost their young lives, in times of war. As we pause to reflect and remember on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, here are a few of their stories:
Private Frank Roper Memorial Fund Westminster Regiment
Private Roper worked for the C.C. Craig Company in Winnipeg for many years prior to the Second Great War. He was single, “a gentle soul,” and the lone support of his mother. When he was called up to join the Canadian Army, his familiarity with the operation of motorcycles led to his transfer to the Westminster Regiment. Frank Roper was killed in Italy and is buried in the Assissi War Cemetery in Perugia, Italy. As there was no known next of kin it is presumed that his mother died just after his enlistment. Roper Island in northern Manitoba is named for him.
World War II Veteran leaves poppy on the tomb of the unknown soldier. Photo from Flickr, taken by Patrick Cardinal
Regimental Trust Funds of 226th Overseas Battalion
The 226th Overseas Battalion C.E.F. was formed during the First World War. All such battalions had canteen funds, the income from which would be paid out to deserving members of the battalion or their widows or next of kin who may be in need. By 1955, there had been no claims made to the Trust in several years, and so, the trustees decided to turn the Trust over to The Winnipeg Foundation. The Foundation administered any claims on the Trust until 1958, at which point all remaining monies became general funds of The Winnipeg Foundation supporting our community forever.
John and Marion Abra Fund
Dr. John (Jack) Abra was called to active duty with the Canadian Army Dental Corps at the beginning of the Second World War, having enlisted in the Active Militia three years before. By completion of his six years of wartime service (two in Canada and four in England and Europe) he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He recorded his memories of that period in a document titled “One Man’s War,” which is held by The University of Manitoba’s archives.
For information about endowment funds at The Winnipeg Foundation, please contact Cathy Auld at 204-944-9474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 7th, 2013
At the Battle of Copenhagen in the 1800′s, the famous British seaman, Horatio Nelson, could see flag signals coming from the fleet’s commanding officer suggesting that he withdraw his ship from the naval engagement. Not believing that to be the best strategy, Nelson raised his telescope to his blind eye in order to intentionally avoid seeing the instruction. That is the origin of the familiar saying “turning a blind eye”.
It can be perfectly natural to intentionally not see things that are offensive to our world view. Sometimes we simply prefer to ignore reality.
A case in point is Winnipeg’s designation as the child poverty capital of Canada. It is not easy for proud Manitobans to think about these disadvantaged kids. In large part, I suspect that frustration is at the root of this reaction. Anyone might logically ask, with all the investment by government in education and social programs, how is it that we continue to leave so many people behind? This is a complex question and there are many different answers. But in the end, the reality remains.
Much of The Winnipeg Foundation’s work is focused on issues of social justice and the need to address inequities in our society. We believe that many of the underlying causes can only be addressed by changes in public policy. But there is an important role for philanthropy. Using the capacity that the Foundation has received from countless generous donors, we can help to fill gaps in service by augmenting the resources of community agencies working on the front lines.
One of the obvious areas demanding attention is food security. The Winnipeg Foundation has long established relationships with important organizations like Winnipeg Harvest, Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba and Siloam Mission – all of which provide significant food support albeit from different approaches. These and other critical agencies along with their committed volunteers are not turning a blind eye! On the contrary, their dedicated efforts make a difference every day.
One of The Winnipeg Foundation’s current initiatives is called Nourishing Potential. This relatively new endowment made its first grants in May 2011. Since then some $471,000 has been approved in funding for 71 grants aimed at providing healthy food for after school programs. In the course of doing this work, we are meeting others who are working on food security issues. Again, more people who are not turning a blind eye. As part of our communications related to Nourishing Potential, we are telling some of their stories. If you are interested in learning more, I invite you to read Stories of Food: Nourishing Winnipeg.
And of course, if you wish to help, please send this to your friends and consider making a gift to the Nourishing Potential Fund.
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 email@example.com.
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.