Keeping pace with the times

Photo: University of Winnipeg, 1986. Recognition of support for the Youth Business Learning and Development Centre. Source: Winnipeg Foundation files.

The 1980s bring to mind big hair, big music, and big shoulder pads, and conditions were similarly big for The Foundation in terms of asset growth, granting and activities.

By 1981, The Foundation’s assets exceed $20 million – double what they were in 1972. By 1987, capital assets had once again doubled to more than $40 million.

In 1981, The Foundation’s first Donor-Advised Fund, the Thelma and Steward Martin Heritage Fund, was established. Today, Donor-Advised Funds are a popular option where donors work together with Foundation staff to direct grants each year. See more – Working together for greater impact.

In 1989, following financial challenges in equity markets, The Foundation changed the way its assets were managed, transferring a large portion of its consolidated trust fund to two external investment counsellors.45

A growing capital asset base meant grants distributed also increased throughout the 1980s. Grants in the areas of medical research and health, as well as culture, increased, as did work with families and children’s agencies.46

Alan Howison retirement notice, Oct. 21, 1989
Alan Howison retirement notice, Oct. 21, 1989.
Source: Winnipeg Foundation scrapbook.

In 1980, a revision to The Foundation’s Act expanded granting to include conservation of human, natural and heritage resources. Television and technology were playing an increasing role in our daily lives. In 1982, “The Computer” was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, and three years later, The Foundation operated its own microchip computer system for accounting and administration for the first time. In 1981, the cable network MTV (Music Television) was launched. Three years later, in 1984, the Children’s Hospital received a grant of $75,000 to assist with the development of what becomes known as the Children’s Hospital Television System, or CHTV.

As governments focused on fiscal responsibility, requests to The Foundation increased. By 1985, The Foundation reported:

“…both the Federal and Provincial Governments must reduce their deficits or face severe consequences including further currency devaluation. In view of the fact that many of the agencies with which we work are dependent upon government funding, we are now seeing them turn to us and others in the private sector for some of the support they had previously obtained.”47

This, no doubt coupled with the fact that 1985 saw bonds yielding 24 per cent and common stocks on major exchanges approximately 17 per cent,48 led The Foundation to increase its staff for the first time in 36 years.49

In 1986, nearly $700,000 was invested in the area of Family and General Services, more than double what had been invested the year before. The largest grants in this area were to the Citizenship Council of Manitoba for the construction of a hostel to accommodate refugees; to Marymound School to hire more staff; and to Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg to develop a Manitoban branch of the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy.

The following year, in 1987, there was a sense of excitement about our city’s possibilities. The Foundation reported, “Exciting things are now happening in this city as governments have assumed responsibility for most of the massive costs of the Core Area Initiative,”50 which was a 10-year program initiated by Mayor Bill Norrie to reinvigorate the downtown area.51

This sense of excitement continued into 1988, and The Foundation’s Board became more comfortable with the organization’s innovative capabilities.

“The Winnipeg Foundation sees its role in society as a facilitator or initiator of worthy projects. We make capital grants to assist in the creation of new agencies or new projects that are worthy of support, and that have a demonstrated place in our changing society. The Winnipeg Foundation is a risk taker… The Foundation believes it is our place to encourage services demanded by our changing society. We are not disheartened when they are not all successful.”52

In 1989, Alan Howison, who held the position of Executive Director beginning in 1976, decided to relinquish the position moving instead to the role of Director of Development and Investments. Dan H. Kraayeveld was hired as the new Executive Director.

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