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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”Watch Video
- Lindsay Gaudette
"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.
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
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.Watch Video
Blog Post: Gadsden Initiative Member Marlena Salvador is Becoming Discreetly Loud About her Giving
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a permanent endowment fund work?
When funds are established with the Victoria Foundation, the principal is held in perpetuity. A portion of the annual investment returns is granted to causes of your choice. The balance of the investment return is added back into the permanent fund which allows the fund to grow over time. As the endowment grows, so does your ability to grant to causes or charities of your choice.
Do donations to the fund qualify for tax receipts?
Yes! All donations, including your initial contributions or contributions by others, will qualify for a tax receipt.
When can I start making grants?
If you complete your total donation of $5,000 to your fund by September 30th of the current year, then you can make your first grant the following year.
Can other people contribute to the fund?
Absolutely! Anyone can contribute to the fund. They just need to make sure that they provide the fund name when completing the donation. We can even create your own custom donation form and webpage! Send us an email for more details.
Do I need to attend all the events in the program?
We hope that new members attend all sessions in the core program. Participants can also take part in many optional events, such as the Vital Signs launch, a Donor Tea at Government House, and other learning workshops and networking events. Don’t worry – if you’re unable to make it, we’ll provide you with resources after each event.
Can children and family participate in the events and activities?
Yes! Throughout the program, many of our events will be family focused, and children will be encouraged to attend. Unless we specify otherwise, due to limited space, you are always welcome to bring another family member or guest along.
Will all events be in-person, or will there be online options too?
After the pandemic, everyone was eager to return to in-person events; however, as the program evolves, we’re learning that members would like the option to attend online events as well. As we plan for future sessions, we will definitely explore including some online programming.
Am I able to close or transfer my fund to another institution or foundation if I move away?
The initial gift and any future gifts to the fund are held in perpetuity as an asset of the Foundation for the purposes of the fund as agreed upon by the donor and the Foundation.
What is the usual timing for events?
Most events are held at the end of the workday for 1.5-2 hours. On occasion, there are weekend or midday events that you could attend on your lunch break.
Will I be able to socialize, form relationships, and have some fun? Or is it all learning?
You will absolutely have fun! At every event we leave time for socializing. A key part of the Gadsden experience is to get to know your other members and make connections – both through philanthropy and your personal interests. We definitely want you to have fun while you learn!
Do I have any input to session programming?
Yes! We are always interested in knowing what you’d like to explore on your philanthropy journey. If you have a cause area that you’re passionate about or an idea that you’d like to delve into more deeply, chances are that other members will be just as interested.
I have questions about my fund/the program/philanthropy, but I don’t feel comfortable speaking up at events. Are you ever available to talk one on one?
The events are great for networking, but we actually learn the most about you and your interests through conversations over a cup of coffee or a video call. We’re always available to chat so let’s set something up.
I’d like more hands-on volunteering experience with non-profits and charities I may care about. Can the Gadsden Initiative help me find those opportunities?
Yes! Several of our members have gone on to have further involvement with the organizations they’re introduced to. We will always share resources about who you can contact to find out what opportunities exist. If you’ve been considering connecting with an organization outside of the Gadsden program, reach out to us – we likely have a contact we can connect you with.
I’m really interested in a specific cause area. Do you think there are other members who might share my interest and want to dig deeper?
We are happy to introduce you to other members who share the same interests as you. Gadsden is a great opportunity to share your passion and knowledge. One of our core activities brings members together into small working groups to discuss and brainstorm on specific cause areas.
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