This year marks the 85th anniversary of the Victoria Foundation, which has been striving to make our community a vibrant, caring community for all since 1936, making us the second oldest community foundation in Canada.
From its humble beginnings as an idea borne by Burges Gadsden, who started the Foundation out of a soup kitchen on Pandora Avenue with an initial donation of $20 from his mother, Fannie, the Victoria Foundation has grown into the sixth largest community foundation in Canada.
I’ve had the privilege of being the Foundation’s CEO for the past 20 years and the community support I’ve witnessed over that time simply fills my heart with pride.
The growth the organization has seen in the 21st century has been incredible and inspiring. In 2001, we had 59 active funds; by the end of 2020 we had 640. Our assets have grown from $23.7 million in 2000 to over $351 million today. In 2000, we were able to distribute just over $1 million in grants. In 2020, we distributed over $25 million. That’s a growth from a million dollars a year to over $2 million a month.
All of these incredible strides are the result of the generosity of our community and the trust in the Victoria Foundation to connect people who care to causes that matter. This has allowed us to support efforts in such pressing community concerns as food security, homelessness, mental health, equity, and more, including our recent role in helping local non-profits and their clients weather the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also been proud to support arts and culture, education, sports and recreation, community services, and many other areas that enrich our community and our lives.
What I’m most excited to reflect on, however, as we mark this milestone, is not our past, but our future. Considering how far we’ve come, it delights me to imagine what can still be accomplished. As a community and as an organization, we are in prime position to support great change. And we are already working towards that future through such efforts as our focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, our new Community Action Funds, our growing commitment to equity and diversity, and much more.
We also plan to continue what has become one of our most successful projects: Victoria’s Vital Signs. For 15 years now, Vital Signs has been reporting on our community wellbeing and the citizen survey for this year’s edition of the report opens shortly after this column is published, on Tuesday, May 4.
I would encourage each of you at that time to visit victoriafoundation.ca to find the short survey where you are invited to share your voice on what is working in our community, and what needs improvement. This information helps us know how best to continue serving this community, both now and into the future.
By Sandra Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation.