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Community Foundation of Swan Valley

Leaving an everlasting legacy for the Swan River Valley, Manitoba, Canada

Story – April 20, 2010

Lions help foundation smash through $1 million mark

— April 20, 2010 by Trisha LaCarte, courtesy of Swan Valley Star and Times

Over the last five years the Community Foundation of Swan Valley (CFSV) has grown from a seed of an idea to a strong, forward moving organization thanks to the tenacity of the founding members. Their goal from the beginning was lofty but with faith in the community and belief in their objectives, the foundation has achieved their $1 million goal.

“It was the first major goal that we set as a board, and when we set it it seemed like a pretty big stretch, people wondered was it too much,” said CFSV Director Norm Bruce. “I honestly did not think we were going to hit a million in five years,” said CFSV Fund-raising Chair Doug Hinchliffe. “That’s what he said when I brought the brochure with the target,” Bruce laughs.

“Most of this million has come from small donations. There have been a few larger donations, but other than that they were all $1,000 donations here and there,” says Hinchliffe. “It’s just been a tremendous success of outpouring by the community in support. It’s unbelievable. A lot of foundations have not had this kind of success in the same term, and it says a lot about the community as a whole.”

Star and Times photo by Trisha LaCarte
Click to enlarge

The donation which pushed them over the $1 million mark was the generous sum of $5,500, bringing their total to $7,500, from the Bowsman Lions Club. The Lions have started a donor advised fund, and have tentatively decided the interest received from that fund will go to the Bowsman Cemetery.

The CFSV has seen many changes over its short life, but through that has seen continued growth and support as the community is touched by the various funds, grants and projects.

“I think as we go forward and support charitable objectives in the Valley it’s going to make people more aware of what the foundation is, what the objectives are and will continue to and maybe grow their support as they see this is helping their community. The Bowsman Lions are an example of that. If people have a goal or a wish they would like to support, the community foundation provides that.

We’ve likely given back $50,000 to the community. We don’t have $950,000 because we’ve given $50,000 out, and I think that’s so key that this will continue on.” Bruce said.

Although the future of the foundation is bright, there is bound to be changes in leadership and goals. Despite the fluctuation in board members over the past five years, the foundation will soon be facing major changes in leadership.

“We set up the board of 12 people, we had four with a one year term, four with a two year term, and four with a three year term. And the bylaw said you couldn’t serve more than six consecutive. So we’ve had some rollover of terms but this year will be the first year that none of the existing (original) board can stand for re-election,” the director explains.

“Doug, Rex (Leach), Con (Robinson) and I were on for a three year term. We went on to a second, but in that we lost both Rex and Con,” said Bruce solemnly. Both Hinchliffe and Bruce remember fondly their late friends’ contributions to the foundation in its infancy, and credit how each played a key role in its success.

“Rex’s strength was fund-raising. He was the treasurer and set it all up to begin with. He spent countless hours (volunteering for the CFSV),” said Hinchliffe. “That’s the unique thing about the foundation, people give to people, they don’t necessarily give to causes or projects, but they give to people. And if the right person makes the right ask at the right time, nobody knows what the benefit may be,” adds Bruce. “And Rex was a master at that because he was the right person for most people,” said Hinchliffe.

“Con brought his expertise to the granting committee. Con steered them through the ups and downs, determining the merit of the different applications and who should get money,” Bruce explained. “That could be difficult when you got people from all ends of the Valley asking for all different things, but to my knowledge it ran very efficiently and smoothly,” said Hinchliffe.

Aside from the member changes, the foundation is tapping into its creative reserves in an attempt to reach out to more individuals. “We’re in a strategic planning process and I think (our main goal) will be another million in the next five years,” Bruce said. “The interest is growing,” adds Hinchliffe, noting the board is trying to make the model of the foundation and various avenues of giving accessible to all individuals.

“We want to create a benefactor society for planned giving, where people can be recognized for saying ‘I plan to donate to the community foundation through my will.’ We’re talking about creating a heritage club, that would be recognized at the museum which would be similar to the Founder’s Club,” said Bruce. For former Valley residents, there is talk of creating an alumni club as a way to give back to their home community.

Regardless of its happenings, there is no doubt both community and board alike will strive to ensure the foundation's success. Now more than $1 million strong, it will continue to give back to the Valley as it grows. “We really appreciate the support the community has given us and hope they continue to as we move forward,” the director concludes.