Canada’s community foundations understand that today, there’s more than one way to measure philanthropic success. The size of their financial endowment is one, but so are the other ways they help donors impact their community.
That was the message shared last month when Andrew Chunillal, Community Foundations of Canada CEO, visited the Okanagan to discuss leadership, trends and challenges in philanthropy. The region’s three organizations, including Vernon’s Community Foundation of North Okanagan, heard inspiring stories of philanthropic innovation across Canada’s network of 191 community foundations.
“The endowment is a tool – and only ONE tool to make an impact on a community,” Chunillal says.
While it may be what foundations are best known for, it’s important to be aware of other tools in the toolbox. That means offering donors new ways to make a difference, including making an immediate impact, explains Leanne Hammond, CFNO executive director.
“Striking the right balance between endowment and immediate funding allows donors to do both – investing some to generate perpetual income, and spending some right now,” she says.
CFNO has always offered “flow-through granting” – allowing donors to donate through the foundation to specific charities – but now it also offers “spend-down funds” along with endowment funds.
“We’re working with donors who recognize that sometimes only distributing the interest on an endowment fund isn’t enough. Some want to really dig in and help ‘right now,’” Hammond explains.
That balanced giving can also offer significant benefits for charities.
“We have two new funds that between them are distributing over $300,000 to a specific charity over the next 10 years. That predictable funding allows the charity to plan, take a longer view, and spend less time chasing one-off grants to keep the doors open.”
The value of endowments
Other charities see the value of endowment funds that allow donors to leave a legacy in their will.
“We now have 185 individual endowment funds. When we combine the income from each donor fund that has chosen the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation as one of their charities of choice, the cheque becomes over $100,000 a year – not just once but every year in perpetuity. That shows us that endowment works well and still has a role to play in the long game!” Hammond notes.
The new philanthropy
Chunillal also encourages recognition that how younger donors want to give is often different from their parents. Younger people often want to see the impact of their giving more quickly, and while they may not be able to give as much right now, they’re building relationships and trying new giving methods.
Partnerships also play a much larger role in philanthropy today – seeing opportunities to work together, and leverage the power of other organizations, our donors and community leaders, Hammond says, highlighting the recent announcement of the Investment Readiness Program. Okanagan Community Foundations will be working together with Community Foundations of Canada and the federal government to distribute throughout the Okanagan – to help get social enterprises, social purpose organizations ready for investment.
“The role of community foundations is evolving, and it’s an exciting time to be involved,” Hammond says. “Stay tuned for a whole new world!”