In 2019, the Province of BC officially declared September as Community Foundations Month. This annual celebration aims to educate the public on the ways in which Community Foundations support local non-profits and charities.
This year, Community Foundations Month is also highlighting how countless volunteers, non-profits, and charities have been a lifeline for their communities throughout the pandemic.
Of the 191 Community Foundations across Canada, 49 are located in British Columbia. On Vancouver Island, there are many wonderful Foundations making a difference in their communities including the Metchosin Foundation, Salt Spring Island Foundation, Nanaimo Foundation, Alberni Valley Community Foundation, Parksville-Qualicum Foundation, Comox Valley Community Foundation, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, and the Campbell River Community Foundation. Visit the Community Foundations of Canada’s website to view a full list in British Columbia.
What Are Community Foundations?
With a goal of guiding financial and volunteer support to where it is needed most, Community Foundations help people ‘give where they live’. They work with donors and partners to create permanent endowment funds that generate income to support local charities and non-profits.
Check out the Community Foundations of Canada video below to learn more.
The Victoria Foundation is Celebrating 85 Years
Did you know that the Victoria Foundation is the second oldest Community Foundation in Canada, after Winnipeg? Established in 1936 by Burges Gadsden, the organization started its 85-year journey as a soup kitchen. The Sunshine Inn was located on Pandora Avenue with a vision to support the community during the darkest days of the Depression. Gadsden’s dream of creating a solid funding source to support charities throughout the community was finally realized following an Act of the B.C. Legislature. The Victoria Foundation subsequently became a registered charity.
The first gift came from Burges’ mother, Fannie Gadsden. Though she gave $20 “with the wish that I could afford one hundred dollars to so fine an undertaking,” her generosity changed the community forever. To this day, the Foundation still stewards this original gift along with many others.
Learn more about the Foundation’s history.
The Victoria Foundation’s Impact
The Victoria Foundation has seen incredible growth over the last 20 years under the guidance of current CEO, Sandra Richardson. In 2001, the Foundation had 59 active funds and by the end of 2020, the figure had grown to 640. Furthermore, assets at the Foundation have grown from $23.7 million in 2000 to over $351 million today. In 2020, the Foundation distributed over $25 million; a growth from a million dollars a year to over $2 million a month.
Programs and funds including Hosted Organizations, Individuals and Families, Legacy donors and Community Action Funds have immensely contributed to the success of the Victoria Foundation. They’ve also helped us support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and grow our commitment to equity and diversity, both in our community and within the organization itself. But none greater than the generosity of the community and its trust in the organization.
The spirit of generosity was never more evident than in 2020 when local organizations were first beginning to weather the impact of the pandemic. In response, the Victoria Foundation launched the Rapid Relief Fund in partnership with the Times Colonist, the Jawl family, CHEK News, and others. This initiative raised over $6 million in just 52 days via 15,000 donations. To date, the fund has distributed 105 grants to 97 organizations, totalling $6,002,700.