foundation philanthropy – ceo's commentary
Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category
Friday, 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.
Friday, 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.
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.
Friday, July 6th, 2012
It is with great sadness that our city learned Mayor Bill Norrie passed away today at the age of 83. In his professional life, his only reason for being was to serve the people of Winnipeg. He was a great municipal leader because he understood city life and why people live in cities. His vision of strong neighbourhoods is represented by two CORE agreements—unique in Canada—which provided millions of dollars to re-vitalize the inner city. His deep appreciation that everyone needs to belong and to be included is represented by his untiring commitment to attend countless community events. His understanding that a city needs to have a sense of pride and place is represented by the legacy of The Forks and the Pan Am Games. While so many community leaders and politicians debate what should be done or how it should be done, Mayor Norrie’s leadership always started with why it should be done. A person who is driven by public interest and never by self interest easily motivates others to follow.
2003 Winnipeg Foundation Board photo: (left to right) Justice Guy Kroft, Lawrie Pollard, Bill Norrie
Like so many in this city, I knew Bill well because he was so personable. No one could be more engaging, have a kinder heart or a greater interest in others. He recruited me to Winnipeg in 1989 and we worked closely together at City Hall for the following three years. And he was the longest-serving Board Member of The Winnipeg Foundation. In 2009, I had the opportunity to pay tribute to Mayor Norrie when he was honoured by the Government of Japan. It is with great respect and affection that we all have admired the profound impact Bill had on the lives of those around him.
The sincere condolences of the Board and Staff of The Winnipeg Foundation are extended to Helen and the Norrie family at this sad time. Bill left such a positive mark on this city and in our hearts that he will be forever remembered
Friday, February 17th, 2012
During the early part of February, I had an opportunity to spend some vacation time in Florida with my wife enjoying the sun, walking, swimming—not doing anything at all that might be described as demanding. I got to a Jets game in Tampa (which we won). I also read a few books.
One, entitled Confidence Men, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, is about the first two years of the Obama administration and the financial crisis. As we now know, the unethical practices of leading American financial institutions prior to 2008, led to a meltdown on the markets that the world is still trying to recover from today. Every organization and individual with investments was profoundly affected. Certainly, The Winnipeg Foundation has felt the negative impact.
There were a variety of causes, including a seriously weakened regulatory framework, the capacity of new technology, overly complex financial instruments which pushed legal limits, ill-advised compensation practices, weak private sector governance and a consumer-driven culture where people routinely bought what they could not afford.
I found one section of the book to be of particular interest. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein is testifying before a government committee and talks about why there is such confusion about the role of banks. We see that in the mind of the public, banks are generally viewed as fiduciaries. They have a duty of care; the interest of the client comes first. When they sell an investment to a client, the client expects that the bank believes in the investment. But, in fact, that was not the case. The banks were selling investments they knew were of questionable value and, even worse, were betting through the market that these investments would soon rapidly decline in value.
That got me thinking about The Winnipeg Foundation. We unquestionably have a duty of care with respect to our donor’s gifts. Ever since 1921, generous people from all walks of life have contributed to “their” community foundation with an expectation that we would act prudently in good times and bad.
In these turbulent times, acting with a duty of care in mind is not as straight-forward as protecting the invested capital of the Foundation. Donors to endowments give money to provide sustainable support to the community and its charitable agencies. So there must be a balance between protecting capital for the long run and making annual grants for immediate impact.
Over the past five years, our investments have earned an annual average return of just over 2%. This is not enough to cover the cost of our distributions. We have traditionally granted 5% of our asset value, though in recent years, this rate has been gradually reduced. This year it is 4.4%. So, during these troubled years, we have been using some capital to continue grant distributions to the community.
In reflecting on the many policy discussions at our Committees and Board, I think we have struck the balance right. We are working to create a predictable revenue stream for the community while at the same time, building an investment strategy that will deliver long term sustainability. Every year, we model and review our assumptions as we apply our own “duty of care.”