Archive for the ‘Partnerships’ Category

Is an informed city a caring and compassionate city?

Monday, 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.

“Thank you” x 208!

Thursday, 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.

A Retrospective on Centennial

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Richard Cloutier from CJOB radio recently dropped by our offices to talk about outcomes from the Centennial Neighbourhood Project; a five-year neighbourhood redevelopment effort, initiated by The Foundation back in 2003. Our fundamental strategy was to build on local assets, invest in education and engage others with us in focusing resources on this largely ignored 10-square block area behind City Hall. The Winnipeg Foundation spent approximately $3 million during the five years, and our many partners collectively invested at least 3 times that amount. Richard was asking what was accomplished and what lessons were learned.

The fact that people who are interested in our inner-city have now heard of Centennial is likely a good place to start. Recently, a group of young students from Centennial visited City Hall to make the Mayor and Council aware of certain concerns. It is easy to reflect back on how extra-ordinary it was to see a similar delegation during the project timeframe. The area is now a City of Winnipeg Housing Improvement Zone, part of Neighbourhoods Alive, and involved with the Community Schools Partnership Program. The Central Neighbourhoods Community Association was also born in Centennial. Through all these forums, people have a stronger voice.

The Aboriginal Head Start Program, which operates out of Dufferin School, is likely still the only such early education effort of its kind in Winnipeg elementary schools. The CSI summer learning program which operates today in several inner-city schools was born in Centennial; the BUILD program which helps former inmates transition to jobs in the construction sector is a remarkable success, also born in Centennial. And obviously, the housing investments made between 2003 and 2008 will serve the community for years to come. So there clearly are legacies.

In terms of lessons learned, our conversation turned to the role of philanthropy and the importance of augmenting what public policy can provide. We all know government cannot do it all. But at the same time, the charitable sector does not have the resources to transition from short term projects to long term solutions on issues as complex as poverty.

At the Foundation, our vision is “a Winnipeg where community life flourishes”. If we want to live in a truly flourishing community, there has to be a sense of social equity. Everyone deserves a fair chance. Without question, the investment in Centennial made a meaningful difference but at the same time, many underlying issues still persist. Striking the right balance so everyone gets to fully share in Winnipeg’s quality of life is not easy when government budgets are being reined-in. All citizens need to ponder the kind of community we want to sustain and how best this can be accomplished.

It’s the Manitoba Way

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Stats Canada recently released the numbers for 2010 and, once again, Manitoba ranks first (at 26.3%) when it comes to tax filers who claim a charitable donation. This finding is consistent with previous years and with other research that says Manitobans donate one percent of their income to community organizations—again the highest level in Canada.

As I drove to work today, I was thinking about a December ad campaign that would encourage Manitobans to make an extra gift to their favourite charity or to a charity that they have not supported before. The theme would be: “Everyone gives. Everyone claims. Everyone wins. It’s the Manitoba way”.

When you are in first place, it is hard to ask for more and yet, at The Winnipeg Foundation, we see countless examples of worthwhile projects that require public support. We also welcome contributions to some of our own recent initiatives:

  1. The “You Can Do It Awards” provide inner-city kids from grades 5 to 12 with a $1,000 learning account to be applied to their future post secondary education in Manitoba.  You can create a $1,000 award by donating $300 to the You Can Do It Awards Fund at The Winnipeg Foundation, which will be matched by the Province and the Foundation to make up the balance.
  2. Up until December 10th, you can support world class medical research taking place in Winnipeg.  The Foundation is sponsoring a virtual race to raise funds for HIV/Aids research. For more information about this unique venture, visit the Virtual Marathon for Medical Research.
  3. You can help us “grow the orchard” through our Nourishing Potential Fund. The Fund provides snacks and meals for Winnipeg children and youth. In just the first year, we have already “harvested” 28 grants (almost $175,000). Every gift helps.

Manitoba has a relatively small population and we are geographically isolated. As a result, if we want our community organizations to flourish, we have to step up more than others. Twenty-six percent of us claim a charitable gift on our tax returns and, together, we donate one percent of our income. Even though these numbers lead the nation, there is opportunity to do better. The need is so apparent, and this is the season to give just a bit more.

Steady as she goes

Friday, September 9th, 2011

This old nautical saying reflects the importance of staying on course. The Winnipeg Foundation’s 2011 fiscal year ends on September 30th, in the midst of continuing economic storms. These circumstances remind us that, even in the roughest seas when our ship is surrounded by high waves, we must focus on longer-term direction. For a foundation, this means relying on its policies and professional advisors to carry it through

The past few years have been characterized by turmoil in financial markets. This August saw unprecedented volatility as indexes tumbled one day only to spike up the next. In 2008, when the major financial meltdown occurred, it was common among foundations to revamp their spending plans. At The Winnipeg Foundation, we stayed on course, followed our formulas and actually increased our grants in 2009 by more than $1 million. Since then, we have been making modest annual adjustments to account for longer-term trends. Our investment and spending policies are very much focused on the horizon.

We are also living in a time of profound change to the legal framework that shapes our mission. Canada has amended tax laws such that many community foundations are shifting focus to “flow through” granting and “term” endowments. Here again, our core business at The Winnipeg Foundation remains unchanged. We are building permanent endowments to generate annual grants that support Winnipeg’s charitable sector. Of course, the Foundation will accommodate other types of gifts when there is good reason to do so. Shorter-term projects such as our work in Central Park, the recently created “You Can Do It Awards” program and our administration of the Business Council’s Aboriginal scholarships clearly demonstrate this flexibility. But in the end, we are in the legacy business: “For Good, Forever.”

The current climate is also forcing the charities we support to examine new ways of delivering their services. Many are wondering about using business activities as a means of fulfilling their mission. Recognizing this growing interest, The Winnipeg Foundation, in partnership with U of M’s Faculty of Law, is hosting a symposium on September 21st called: Philanthropy, Law and Social Enterprise: New Direction or Distraction? We have arranged for leading thinkers from the USA, UK and across Canada to lead the discussion.

Understanding these profound winds of change is an important part of keeping your eyes on the horizon. While it is impossible to ignore the turbulent waters that currently surround our activities, working in this climate continues to be interesting, challenging and rewarding. Our Board and staff know that our only reason for being is to serve the people of Winnipeg. And to do that effectively, we need to keep our focus steady as she goes.