History

Since 1921 generations of thoughtful donors have improved life in our city through gifts with us.

William Forbes Alloway, a prominent banker, established The Winnipeg Foundation in 1921. With his gift of $100,000, Alloway established Canada’s first community foundation and fulfilled his vision of an organization, built by everyday Winnipeggers, that will support our community forever.

The second gift to The Foundation, an anonymous donation of three gold coins worth fifteen dollars, is a reminder that every act of generosity, no matter the dollar amount, makes a difference.

Thousands of people from all walks of life have followed in these donors’ footsteps. The collective power of their generosity has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars invested in local charitable projects that help individuals thrive, strengthen families and build our community.

Milestones

1921-1950

  • 1921
    The Winnipeg Foundation is established by William Forbes Alloway with a gift of $100,000.
  • 1922
    The Foundation makes its first grants: $6,000 equally shared by the Margaret Scott Nursing Home, Knowles Home for Boys, Victorian Order of Nurses, Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Aid Society.
  • 1924
    “The Widow’s Mite”, an anonymous donation of three $5 gold coins, is made to The Foundation. This second gift comes to represent the value of every donation, no matter the size.
  • 1930
    William Alloway dies, leaving his estate, and that of his wife Elizabeth, to The Foundation. Together, their estates totaled more than $2 million and greatly expanded the Foundation’s support to the community.
  • 1930
    Grants begin addressing community needs made more pressing by the start of the Depression.
  • 1931-1939
    Foundation assets see poor gains due to the economic recession, impacting support to community organizations.
  • 1937
    The Foundation receives memorial gifts for the first time.
  • 1941
    Investments are made in Victory War Loans
  • 1950
    The Community Reserve Fund, built through surplus funds from 1945 to 1949, supports flood efforts.
  • 1950
    The Foundation’s scope expands, enabling us to support educational and cultural programs.

1951-1980

  • 1952
    The Children’s Hospital receives a large grant to address the polio outbreak.
  • 1955
    Cumulative total grants exceed $2 million.
  • 1958
    The Foundation begins managing funds on behalf of charitable agencies.
  • 1965
    A grant helps establish The United Way of Winnipeg.
  • 1968
    The Government of Canada expands funding for charitable organizations, enabling the Foundation to focus on innovative and experimental projects.
  • 1972
    Assets exceed $10 million.
  • 1980
    The Foundation’s granting scope expands again to include environmental and heritage activities.

1981-2010

  • 1981
    Assets exceed $20 million.
  • 1996
    The Foundation celebrates its 75th anniversary with a bronze bust of William Alloway, by Winnipeg sculptor Leo Mol.
  • 1996
    Assets exceed $100 million.
  • 1999
    Youth in Philanthropy is launched, giving local high school students a voice in The Foundation’s granting.
  • 2002
    The Foundation sees unprecedented growth, including a $10 million gift from Israel Asper and a $100 million gift from the Moffat family.
  • 2002
    Cumulative total grants surpass $100 million.
  • 2003
    The Foundation makes the largest grant in our history — $6 million to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
  • 2008
    A downturn in the stock market triggers a change in our spending policy in order to rebuild assets.
  • 2009
    Cumulative total grants surpass $200 million.

2011-2015

  • 2011
    The Foundation marks its 90th anniversary with a public celebration at the Manitoba Museum as well as the 90-Hour Giving Challenge.
  • 2011
    The Nourishing Potential Fund is established to support child and youth nutrition programs in Winnipeg.
  • 2012
    The Foundation launches Community News Commons, public media project to engage citizens in community life.
  • 2012
    The Growing Active Kids Fund is established to support educational, recreational and cultural activities for Winnipeg youth living in and around social housing neighbourhoods.
  • 2012
    Cumulative total grants surpass $300 million; assets surpass $500 million.
  • 2013
    We welcome colleagues from across Canada as Winnipeg hosts the Community Foundations of Canada conference.
  • 2014
    More 1,800 youth, ages 14-29, grade our city in 15 key areas in The Foundation’s Youth Vital Signs project.
  • 2014
    The Foundation hosts the 24-Hour Giving Challenge to encourage gifts to all 51 Manitoba community foundations.
  • 2015
    The Foundation, along with its community partner CJNU Nostalgia Radio, produces River City 360, a weekly radio show featuring views and news from around Winnipeg.

2016-2020

  • 2016
    The Foundation launches Fast Pitch, teaming the business sector with the charitable community. Participants make their high-energy cases for support in three minutes or less.
  • 2017
    The Foundation releases Winnipeg’s Vital Signs® 2017, a snapshot of life in Winnipeg. It measures the vitality of our community, identifying significant needs and trends by combining research with the results of community surveys and conversations.
  • 2018
    The Foundation committs $1 million to help organizations work towards our shared goal of reconciliation in our community with a new Reconciliation Grants program.
  • 2018
    The Foundation releases Stretch, Stressed & Still Standing, a report on Winnipeg’s charitable sector.
  • 2018
    The Foundation partners with the Manitoba government to administer the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program, providing support for museums, archives, and supporting organizations in Manitoba.
  • 2019
    Cumulative total grants surpass $500 million.
  • 2019
    The Foundation releases Perspectives Insights on Winnipeg Foundation Grantmaking.
  • 2020
    COVID-19 Emergency Response Grants and Stabilization Grants support local charities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021

  • 2021
    The Foundation celebrates its 100th anniversary.
  • 2021
    The Winnipeg Foundation achieves Imagine Canada accreditation.

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