Organizational Sustainability




1. What we planned

For over a decade The Winnipeg Foundation (TWF) has supported the administrative costs of running Manitoba‘s now 47 smaller community foundations. Manitoba is home to more than 25% of Canada‘s 173 + community foundations. We believe in the growth potential of community foundations in our region and thought that investing in administrative strength made sense from an economy of scale perspective; i.e.: sharing the benefits of TWF‘s technology, asset investment pool, staffing. Manitoba has a high concentration of community foundations based in small population areas, the majority of which are volunteer run.

2. What we did

Initially we offered subsidies for professional development through Community Foundations of Canada (CFC).This has evolved to administrative support grants, investment management services and accounting services. We have gradually provided enhanced “back office” services, which we define as financial, investment, and technology services. This frees up our partner community foundations to focus on “front office” services in donor engagement, grantmaking, marketing and fund development and community leadership and to fulfill fiduciary and governance responsibilities.

For members of CFC in good standing, each Manitoba community foundation applies for an annual administrative support grant which takes into account the asset base of the foundation, together with its growth in actual and percentage terms. A total of $100,000 CDN is distributed on a pro rata basis.

For community foundations with assets managed by TWF (revocable capital), an annual grant assists with audit and public reporting costs. Total program amount is $15,000 CDN.

3. Here’s what happened

29 of our province’s 47 community foundations have endowment funds managed by TWF asset pool.

22 have started 59 new student scholarship and bursary funds under an incentive of the Government of Manitoba, resulting in $1.5 million CDN.

Every year a magazine format publication “Community Roots” profiles stories about community foundations in Manitoba. It is distributed across the province to the community foundations as a promotional tool and to their local businesses, professional advisors and donors. It‘s production supported by Manitoba Hydro, a public energy utility and the Government of Manitoba.

A spirit of working together/collective action has also inspired Manitoba community foundations to join together on Lake Winnipeg watershed issues with community foundations across two other Canadian provinces and several north central states, all affected by the watershed drainage basin.

Many community foundations are not equipped to have an effective web site (i.e. not kept current, lack of training to maintain). Lack of resources for maintenance and upkeep of websites is an ongoing challenge.

No community foundations are focused on Vital Signs, an initiative of Community Foundations of Canada. Vital Signs is an annual community check-up conducted by more than 15 community foundations located across Canada that measures the vitality of our cities, identifies significant trends, and assigns grades in at least ten areas critical to quality of life. (see CFC website and twitter)

4. What were the “defining moments” that took us toward or away from our goals?

After a decade we are reviewing the type of support provided to rural Manitoba community foundations, and are at the beginning stage of engaging these community foundation partners in defining a collaborative model.

The Endow Manitoba initiative has the objective of bringing profile and awareness to the community movement in Manitoba. As a two year pilot project, it helps build understanding of what a community foundation is, what it does, and how anyone can support their community through their local/regional community foundation.

A redesigned and repurposed Manitoba Foundations website: hosts program information, marketing materials for printing and download, links to resources, and an online capability to donate to a Manitoba community foundation.

We are jointly developing principles for collaboration, and based on a workshop held in July 2009 I’d like to summarize these:

  1. Any collaboration must have clear objectives
  • Clearly identify roles and responsibilities which are managed within the collaboration as opposed to responsibilities managed by individual foundations
  • Fall within the mission and purpose of each community foundation
  • Must include mutually agreed goals
  • Have an exit strategy in the event the collaboration ceases to exist
  • Be clear about time requirements from all stakeholders