Recognizing we are all a part of something greater

A lot happens in a century. People are born, live and pass away. Time sees societal changes which influence the way we view the world and each other, what we believe and what we do in our lives. People often focus on their personal here and now, but something interesting happens when we examine the world from a 30,000 foot view: we see the bigger picture and we recognize that we are part of something greater, something substantial.

Because of the generosity of Winnipeggers and Manitobans, The Winnipeg Foundation has now been bringing stability and foresight to its work for 100 years. The Foundation was created by William Forbes Alloway in 1921 with a gift of $100,000. The Foundation’s second gift – three gold coins, valued at $15 – was not received until 1924. This gift was well worth the wait; it demonstrated that it is not the amount, but rather the act of giving that matters, and it solidified that we achieve more when we work together.

Since then, thousands of citizens have made gifts to The Foundation, demonstrating their support for our vision of creating “A Winnipeg where community life flourishes for all.” Those generous gifts have resulted in a sizeable endowment, valued at $1.4 billion as of our 2020 fiscal year-end.

While in 1922, the total amount granted was $6,000 to six agencies, in 2020 The Winnipeg Foundation distributed $73 million to approximately 1,000 charities. Those first six grants, however, set the tone for The Foundation’s future work by addressing inequities and supporting those experiencing vulnerable situations. Today, The Foundation’s activity and mandate remain firmly focused on social justice, human rights and the general vitality and well-being of our community.

In creating Canada’s first community foundation, William Forbes Alloway and his wife Elizabeth, the first Legacy donor, established an institution that takes the long view, making a significant impact on our city and province while providing reliable and responsive community support. With this publication, we bring you a snapshot of The Foundation’s work decade-by-decade. By explaining what was happening in Winnipeg and beyond each decade, we aim to bring greater context to The Foundation’s activities and decisions. As society’s needs and interests change, The Foundation has consistently demonstrated its ability to adapt. The latest example of this is The Foundation’s support in the face of COVID-19; between March and July 2020, The Foundation distributed $12.8 million in COVID-19-related grants to the community.

While we don’t know what the community will become in the next 100 years, we can feel confident we have built a strong and stable institution that can continue to support its changing needs and emerging opportunities.

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