Kickstart your philanthropic journey with the Gadsden Initiative

The Gadsden initiative is designed for emerging donors who want to help make our community stronger. Centered on engaging a new generation of inspired community leaders, the program is a collaborative learning experience that invites members to join together and help shape a new philanthropy in the capital region. New donors will have opportunities to explore different ways to give while building a fund at the Victoria Foundation. The program supports members in building relationships with community and working together to take action on solutions that enrich our region.

The Victoria Foundation accepts new Gadsden Initiative members at any time. Contact donor services below to join a vibrant community of over 80 people who are making a lasting difference in our community.

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Through core sessions and other community activities, Gadsden Initiative members will:


Explore critical issues impacting our community

Build relationships with local organizations

Learn how your interests align with local initiatives

Explore causes you may want to support


The core sessions are framed through the through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Victoria’s Vital Signs Reports.

What will I learn in the core sessions?

The Victoria Foundation designs the Gadsden Initiative in collaboration with members so they can explore community issues, causes, and solutions more deeply, and learn how these intersect with their values and interests. In 2023, every Gadsden educational session and ‘Meet the Community’ event were organized based on inquiries from members.

2024 Core Sessions

  • Core Session #1 (Spring) – Discovering Your Values & Pooled Granting

    Members will explore their personal values around philanthropy and discover how models of mutual aid and reciprocity can be used to support the wellbeing of our community. As fundholders at Victoria Foundation, members can use this session to begin exploring collective granting.

  • Core Session #2 (Spring) - Trust-Based Philanthropy

    Members will discover how the Trust-Based Philanthropy movement can reimagine the way funders help to advance equity, shift power and build mutually accountable relationships for the benefit of community wellness.

  • Core Session #3 (Fall) - Trends in Philanthropy

    This session will be designed around hot topics or trends in philanthropy as they relate to the world around us. Topics may include impact investing, state of the sector research findings and other timely issues affecting our region, country, or planet.

  • Gadsden Projects (Winter)

    The final quarter is reserved for special projects related to topics members explored over the course of the year.

In addition to the core sessions, Gadsden Initiative members are invited to various Victoria Foundation social events throughout the year including the Donor Tea, Annual Open House, Vital Youth Year End Celebration, and Vital Signs launch.

Members are also invited to a series of ‘Meet the Community’ sessions which help members build relationships with community, learn how their interests align with local initiatives, and explore causes they may want to support. Past sessions have taken place at the Victoria Youth Clinic, the Cridge Centre for the Family, Mary Hill, and the Mustard Seed Food Security Distribution Centre, among other locations.

  • Gadsden Initiative event at ecoloygst

  • Gadsden Initiative event at ecoloygst

  • Gadsden Initiative event at ecoloygst

How does starting a fund with the Gadsden Initiative work?

Gadsden Initiative members are given up to two years to contribute $5,000 to a donor-advised fund. As one of our most popular types of funds, donations are permanently invested, with a portion of the returns made available for granting to the Canadian charities of the member’s choosing each year.

Once the $5,000 threshold is reached, the Victoria Foundation matches contributions with another $5,000. The total $10,000 is enough to create a fully established fund, enabling members to support the community through annual grant-making.

Gadsden Initiative members share their experiences


The Gadsden Initiative launched in 2019 and has since grown to represent a program of over 80 members and 50 funds. The program has evolved through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, but what has remained consistent is the Foundation’s commitment to explore meaningful ways that members can convene and deepen their connection to important community issues.   

Hear what members have to say about the Gadsden Initiative.


  • Waheeda

    Meet Waheeda

    “When it came time to make my first grant, I knew exactly where I wanted to send the funds. I chose to donate to the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, based on the important work this organization is doing in our community. As part of the Gadsden Initiative, we had the opportunity to hear Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi speak about her work building this organization from what was essentially an outreach program. I found the story incredibly inspiring, and I know that’s where I will be sending grants for years to come.”
    - Waheeda Esmail
    See pages 8 & 9 of the 2021 issue of Pulse Magazine for the full story.

  • Lindsay Gaudette

    Meet Lindsay

    “Through Gadsden, I was exposed to the Funders Network, hosted by Victoria Foundation, which has given me professional resources to support granting I facilitate in my day job.”
    - Lindsay Gaudette

    Watch Video
  • Carly Milloy

    Meet Carly

    "My husband Matt and I are both from Victoria and, together, we are raising two young kids here. It felt meaningful for us to have this chance to learn more about organizations that are working to make a difference in our community. There are already a couple charities close to our hearts (Victoria Hospitals Foundation and Victoria Cool Aid Society), but this was a chance for us to learn about other organizations doing meaningful work."
    - Carly Milloy
    See pages 8 & 9 of the 2021 issue of Pulse Magazine for the full story.

  • Bhupinder

    Meet Bhupinder

    After being involved in a number of youth-led initiatives, Bhupinder turned 30 and realized that while he wasn’t a youth anymore, he still wanted to make an impact in his community. In this video, Bhupinder shares his experience joining the Gadsden Initiative.

    Watch Video
  • Nick and Marlena

    Meet Marlena and Nick

    When Marlena and Nick learned of a family member with an illness, they knew they wanted to find a way to give back to causes that were important to her. They also learned that volunteering your time can be a significant way to advance opportunities in our community. In this video, the pair share their experiences becoming Gadsden Initiative members.
    Blog Post: Gadsden Initiative Member Marlena Salvador is Becoming Discreetly Loud About her Giving

    Watch Video
  • Andrew

    Meet Andrew

    Gadsden Initiative member Andrew shares his experience with the program – a philanthropic journey that started after the loss of his parents.

    Watch Video

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