LIVING: Community Foundations

Philanthropic. A word too often associated with only the wealthy. We can all be philanthropists, no matter our means, by giving to and benefitting from the Community Foundations of Canada (CFC). Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for Canada's 191 community foundations, the first formed in Vancouver in 1943.  The CFC was born with an idea to help Canadians invest in building strong and thriving communities in which they live. Within the Halton region there are currently three such foundations; Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington.

A win win situation, our community foundations provide us with an opportunity to invest in our community and with peace of mind. A donor need only give within their comfort zone, then allow the experts to pool their resources, knowledge and expertise to fulfill your endowment wishes. The foundation receives, manages and distributes your gift, making it a stress-free process for the donor.  Earnings from endowments are used each year in the form of grants; meeting charitable objectives in the communities served.  Endowments can be made by means of cash, stocks and bonds, real estate, retirement assets, and life insurance. 

Deciding on a charity is a very personal choice, and can be somewhat daunting.  Your local foundation can wisely guide you based on the Vital Signs system. Vital Signs uses community knowledge to measure the vitality of our neighbourhoods. By gathering data and publishing reports on social and economic trends, they can determine how Canadian communities are faring. Fusing data, Vital Signs establishes the big issues within each community and in turn aids in a donor's decision making process.

“I think community foundations are powerfully donor-centric,” says Eileen Mackenzie, president and CEO, Mississauga Community Foundation. “Playing a crucial role in how people give back where neighbourhoods need it most, donor satisfaction is paramount. Here is a legacy building opportunity that creates an effective, efficient and sustainable support for causes that matter in their community.”
For many donors it's important the things they care about ““ be it a place, community service, or institution ““ be supported long after they are gone. They want to think their donation will last without risk. The Oakville Foundation's Director, Communications and Development, Sarah McPherson wants donors to know they can rest easy. “We are not investment managers. What we do is assess investment performance and focus on taking risk off the table.”
Burlington's president and CEO, Colleen Mulholland encourages entire families to establish an endowment fund. “Your gift can be directed by you ““ and your family members ““ to build an endowment that will give forever. The fund will earn income annually and be used  to generate grants to charities that are making a meaningful impact in the areas of greatest importance to you.”

Community foundations honour and protect the intentions of their donors in perpetuity. Think of your community foundation existing as a community savings account ensuring your gift will do good work, now and in the future. Truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Mississauga Community Foundation
Since May of 2001 the Mississauga foundation's leadership has been busy building community vitality. As of 2015, cumulative grants back to the community are more than $7 million.

Eileen Mackenzie, 58, joined the MCF in January 2005. “I had been in the charitable sector for close to 30 years so I was always interested in the foundations. There wasn't one here as yet and I thought I would like to start one, and then they called me! If I could think of an ideal job this would be it.  The foundation is an ideal model for sustainable charities in the community.”

There is nothing more satisfying than to witness the impact of a grant. Choosing a grant recipient and then watching it flourish is as exciting for the foundation as it is the donor. “It is rewarding for all involved,” says Mackenzie. “Donors get the joy of granting and impacting their community without any administrative burden.”

Grant beneficiaries are success stories in the making and the first to thank their community foundation. Such grateful recipients include Peel Children's Centre summer camp program, CNIB, Chamber Music Society of Mississauga, Victim Services of Peel's Emergency Client Assistance program and The Mississauga Food Bank.

“What is wonderful about philanthropy is the tangible evidence of our empathy for each other as neighbours and a community.”

MCF events for 2016 are currently in the planning stages, and if they are as exciting as last year's Dancing with Mississauga Star's Gala…you won't want to miss it!

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Oakville Community Foundation
The Oakville Community Foundation thinks of themselves as a conduit between the passions of philanthropy, families and organizations. Since 1994 they have been connecting individuals, families and corporations with causes that truly matter. To date they have issued more than $18 million in grants to the Oakville community.

For the past five years Sarah McPherson has thrived in working with donors with real philanthropic ability and interest. “We help people realize how setting up an endorsement can change the way they see and support the charitable sector.”

The OCF's continuing contribution of funds and financial resources given back to the community  is immeasurable. They have in fact brought other large scale charitable organizations such as the Lions Club and Oakville Hospital Foundation for inclusion in their investments for management. 

Representing two sides of the community, one philanthropic and one charitable, it is a foundation's responsibility to ensure funding is provided for programs that directly benefit Oakville residents. One such program, Homeward Bound, whose sole purpose is to transform lives by bringing together the key supports families need to become self-supporting, has received more than $100,000. “It has been a real collaborative effort,” says McPherson. “The real beauty of this is enabling single mothers to go back to school fulltime and break this cycle of poverty.”

Events for 2016 are currently being finalized. OCF will be holding an investment presentation in April 2016 followed by their Annual Guest Speaker Event and AGM in June.

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Burlington Community Foundation
Burlington resident, Colleen Mulholland, brought 27 years of executive leadership and management experience to her role as BCO President and CEO in 2011. She is proud to say their foundation has granted more than $3.2 million to their community since its inception in 1999. BCF currently manages more than $10 million in assets, stewards more than 75 charitable funds and has distributed more than $3.18 million in grants in Burlington and the surrounding area.

“To continue to address important needs in our community, as well as to help reduce resource burden on charitable organizations, this year BCF is implementing a two-category grant making program with a total granting envelope this year of $91,000. This program provides seed grants of $1,500 or less, and larger grants ranging from $20,000 to $30,000.”

As with all the foundations, BCF events are a celebration of philanthropy.  Last year's Masquerade “Mystery of the Night” Ball was an enormous success and in 2016 with be hosted on October 22.

For every person thinking of becoming a donator, Mulholland's words ring true for each Community Foundation, “By establishing an endowment fund, your gift can be directed by you ““ and your family members ““ to build your endowment that will give forever. As your fund will earn income annually that is then generated into grants, you can be certain that your funds will go to charities that are making a meaningful impact to areas of greatest importance to you. You are in fact building your own legacy.”

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