How arts and culture organizations can create a perpetual source of funding

Did you know the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan manages 175+ endowment funds for individuals, families, and charities throughout our region?

“We’re delighted to help balance the importance of support for today with the need for stability and long-term success for tomorrow,” says Leanne Hammond, executive director of the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, noting arts and culture organizations are among the many that have embraced the opportunity for an endowment fund held at the Foundation.

There’s no doubt that arts and cultural activities play an important role in the vitality and well-being of any community.

As Vernon Public Art Gallery executive director Dauna Kennedy points out, the referendum Vernon voters recently passed clearly indicates they value the arts and want to see a new cultural facility become the cornerstone of the thriving local arts community. All arts and cultural organizations stand to benefit by igniting local creative passions, expanding arts education,and kick-starting the economic benefit of cultural tourism.

“I recently attended the Vernon Public Art Gallery’s Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts, and was delighted to see the outpouring of support for the galley’s mix of quality programming for all members of our community,” Hammond says. “While there will obviously be a significant fundraising focus in the near future for the facility, the bigger question of how to ensure funding for the region’s valuable array of arts and cultural groups looms always in the background.”

One strategy employed by savvy organizations is to partner with the Community Foundation to create endowment funds for the future. A quick look at arts organizations that have endowment funds at CFNO demonstrates the diverse mix of organizations at work in this community:

  • Vernon Public Art Gallery
  • Vernon & District Museum and Archives
  • Mackie Lake House
  • Vernon Community Music School
  • Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum & Arts
  • Vernon & District Museum and Archives
  • Vernon Performing Arts Centre
  • Okanagan Symphony Orchestra

Why start an endowment?

“Painting a picture of what could be, now and in the future, helps board members, staff and supporters grow excited about the possibilities of your organization and what an endowment offers,” Hammond says. “You might start by using income generated from the endowment fund to award annual students scholarships or community-building projects, for example.”

How can you grow your endowment?

Many organizations also find an endowment fund with CFNO allows them to look outside the box for new donors they have yet to engage, and underscores the long-term vision of the organization for board members, staff and donors.

“Start by having a conversation with some of your loyal donors about your intent to establish or grow a fund, and then look for a few donors who might provide matching funds or open their networks,” Hammond says. “You can even make it a team event or build a campaign around it.”

This way, you’re saying to your longtime donors, “You mean a lot to us because you’ve invested in us with your time, talent and treasures, and we are inviting you to partner with us to help us move forward,” Hammond says. “People love to help but only do so when they know you need their help!”

To learn more about the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan’s endowment services for charities, or to donate call Leanne Hammond at or email

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