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Community Foundation of Swan Valley

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

Story – April 3, 2018

Building a Strong Foundation for the Swan Valley's Future

— April 3, 2018 by Jeremy Bergen, Swan Valley Star and Times

In the comparatively brief time since the inception of the Community Foundation of Swan Valley (CFSV) in 2005, donors from far and wide have created a pool of endowed funds in excess of $2.2 million. Through the resources and organization of the CFSV, this has resulted in funding in excess of $480,000 for charitable projects within the Swan Valley.

“The Foundation was started to provide a perpetual pool of endowed funds to support charitable organizations within the Swan Valley,” said CFSV Board Chair Lorne Henkelman. “Donations, no matter the size, remain in the endowed funds to provide ongoing support to local charities. In comparison to many fundraising organizations, the funds of the CFSV are invested with only a portion of the interest used to support grants to local charities. Funding will be available, now and in the future, to support the growing needs of qualified Valley organizations.”

The concept of a Valley community foundation came to fruition as a province-wide challenge from the Thomas Sill Foundation in Winnipeg. This challenge offered a 2-to-1 funding opportunity over a four year period to communities starting a foundation and raising $200,000. The Sill Foundation challenge was accepted and achieved within one year.

Star and Times
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Original visionaries Doug Hinchliffe, Rex Leach, Conrad Robinson and Beggie Palsson spearheaded the formation of a board of directors from the G7 municipalities representing all portions of the Swan Valley. This group created policies and guidelines sufficient to meet Revenue Canada requirements and obtain charitable status with assistance from other non-board professionals.

The first financial goal was meeting the Sill Challenge. The plan was to create a Founders Club comprised of donors – either individual, family, business, service club or other – who would donate $1,000. This was achieved within one year and created a basis for the flourishing foundation. “Soon afterwards, the provincial government offered a matching program for the creation of scholarship funds – which the Foundation promoted to increase educational opportunities,” said Henkelman. “In addition, the Sill Foundation offered a matching opportunity to create a Youth in Philanthropy program at the SVRSS, teaching governance, fundraising and philanthropy to future community leaders.”

From time to time, special matching opportunities arise such as the 24 Hour of Giving Challenge held annually in November. This allows foundations to stretch donations in the Foundation unrestricted fund. In 2017, the Province and the Winnipeg Foundation matched local receipts by 20 percent.

Star and Times
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“The Foundation has created lasting monuments,” said Henkelman. “A Founders monument in the Swan River Legion Park and various Club level donors at the Swan Valley Historical Museum recognize donors who have stepped up to the initiatives promoted to grow the Foundation.”

The Winnipeg Foundation, the first of its kind in Canada, has endowed funds in excess of $500 million and was a natural choice for the CFSV to partner with. An operating agreement was soon completed and since its inception, all donations are invested there. Results have been positive with four percent being returned and used for local project granting and any excesses returned to the fund to ensure growth for the future.

“The CFSV Board meets monthly with committee meetings held as required,” said Henkelman. “The role of the Board is to provide governance, lead in fundraising, and carry out all fiduciary responsibilities to the donors. The Board approves the granting process, ensures applicants are qualified, and is responsible to see that policies and by-laws are current and in compliance with Canada Revenue Agency requirements.”

As the CFSV has evolved, so have the administrative needs. From a volunteer Administrative Assistant to the Board, to an Executive Assistant, to a present day part-time Executive Director, requirements have dictated change. The position now entails handling the day-to-day operations resulting from the continued growth from daily financial transactions, to liasing with the Board and committees, to communicating with fund holders and the Winnipeg Foundation.

“The ultimate goal of the Foundation is to grow and sustain an ongoing source of funds, held in perpetuity, to support qualified groups within the Valley complete projects to enhance the quality of life for all residents,” Henkelman added. “In 2018, there will be approximately $90,000 available for distribution to the community through grants, scholarships and directed funds.” The CFSV is also changing the way they give out grants, having announced in February that there would be a spring granting period to accommodate those organizations whose activities have ceased by the fall intake.

As facilities wither and crumble, the generosity shown by donors from far and wide to grow the CFSV will continue to grow and sustain the legacy of the Foundation through upgrades to sports parks, athletic fields, halls and organizations. Philanthropy, yesterday, today and tomorrow, will maintain and enhance the quality of life in the Swan Valley.