Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category

Community Building

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

By pooling our gifts, we accomplish together what no one of us could do alone.

Just recently, I was asked to speak to the University Women’s Club annual luncheon on the topic of working together to build a stronger community. As I prepared my remarks, I kept reflecting on just how groundbreaking the idea of creating a community foundation really is. The Winnipeg Foundation is Canada’s first community foundation. As of December 31st, 2013, just over $327 million has been distributed to the community during our history. Our 93rd birthday is April 26, 2014 and as we look forward to The Foundation’s 100th anniversary in just seven years, it seems quite likely that by then total community support will reach beyond half a billion dollars.

William Alloway

In thinking about our history, it is pretty clear that William Alloway could see the potential impact of pooling resources in a community foundation. His founding gift of $100,000 was a lot of money in 1921. One cannot help but wonder how disappointed he must have been when no one else joined in after the legislation was passed. William and Elizabeth Alloway had personal knowledge of Winnipeg that reached back 51 years–when people came by canoe not the railroad. To say the least, they were very prominent citizens and amongst the most wealthy. And yet, despite their leadership, the idea of pooling gifts for greater impact seemingly offered no appeal to others.

We know nothing about the woman who validated their idea three years later. What prompted her to slip $15 into a plain white envelope? Perhaps she was associated in some way with one of the community organizations that received an early grant from The Foundation. One way or another, however she became acquainted with the Alloway vision, her decision to make a gift had remarkable impact. With three gold coins which she called “the widow’s mite”, the idea of a “community” foundation was realized. Last year, The Winnipeg Foundation made grants to over 800 different charities. In reflecting on the scope of that activity, this generous but unknown woman is arguably one of our City’s greatest citizens.

Assiniboine Park's Nature Playground

In the course of my remarks at the University Women’s Club, I listed just a few of the grants that were recently approved. The recipients included The Broadway Neighbourhood Centre, Friends of Sherbrook Pool, Ducks Unlimited, The John Howard Society, St. Paul’s College, The Sunny Mountain Day Care Centre and Prairie Fire Press. While Foundation grants average $15,000 to $20,000, there are of course some very large contributions. In January we made the final payment on a $6 million contribution to the national Human Rights Museum and we are currently in the process of paying a $1 million commitment to help with the new Children’s area at Assiniboine Park. This continuing flow of dollars into the community is far beyond the capacity of any of us as individuals. It is only by pooling our gifts that so much can be accomplished.

In the tradition of Alloway and “the Widow’s Mite”, we encourage families to consider creating a named “Community Building Fund” to generate annual income for the benefit of charitable agencies. Starting an endowment as a family legacy is a very simple process involving an initial gift of $2,500. There are many options allowing donors to shape their fund according to their philanthropic aspirations. With 2,800 funds, The Winnipeg Foundation is in essence an embodiment of the generous spirit so evident in our city. Our vision is “a Winnipeg where community life flourishes”. By pooling our resources, we can accomplish together what no one of us could do alone. For Good. Forever.

Read Rick Frost’s remarks to The University Women’s Club, Working Together To Build a Stronger Community

More than $400,000 was raised by nearly 2,500 contributions during Foundation's 90-Hour Giving Challenge in 2011.

Honouring our wartime heroes in perpetuity

Friday, 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

Explaining granting and market returns in 2012

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

A Fitting Tribute

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 or call 204.944.9474.

“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.