Message from Foundation CEO Sky Bridges
As I draft this message for the latest edition of The Foundation’s magazine, the April blizzard is roaring outside like a last poke at what has already been a long two plus years for our community. We have been through a lot together since March of 2020 when the pandemic was racing around the world, and now we have to collectively determine how to move forward as a changed community, with love and gratitude for each other.
The Winnipeg Foundation is starting its second century with a comprehensive review of how we can best serve our community. This examination includes several research and engagement activities, designed to help us learn more about what our community needs from us today, and in the years ahead. Although there is change all around, The Foundation remains steadfast in its support for our charitable sector and the evolving needs of our city.
One of the tools we are using to listen is Vital Signs®. This 2022 community research project is measuring our city’s wellness across dozens of areas: safety and security, environmental influences, access to resources, healthy living habits, equity, education, and supports for our most vulnerable citizens are some of over 100 data sets being collected. The Foundation conducted its first Vital Signs® project in 2017 and we recognize a lot has changed in our community since then. We look forward to the detailed measurements and insights Vital Signs® 2022 will provide, as The Foundation develops its next Strategic Plan.
The results from Vital Signs® and other Foundation research projects, including Donor and Grantee surveys, a Brand Audit, and Vital Conversations, will inform and guide the core of our Strategic Plan; we are listening and learning from our community.
We do know that the community is going to need our collective support now more than ever. Manitobans are known for their generosity. It is in our DNA to support our communities, as much as we are able. For decades our province has led the country in terms of percentage of income donated to charity and by the number of tax-filers who make charitable donations. We should all be proud of our commitment to community through this generosity.
What we’re learning, though, is that during the past decade charitable giving in Manitoba has decreased by almost 16%. This is a trend across the country. Thanks to Winnipeg Foundation donors, we’ve been able to support our city’s charitable sector more than ever during COVID, however the long-term effects of the pandemic are placing stress on our essential charitable sector like never before.
Our most recent bellwether survey has told us local charitable organizations are burnt out, overwhelmed, and anxious about the future. They’ve been operating in an ‘extended crisis management’ mode for the past two years. The sector is feeling unstable right now while the general public grapples with the fallout of the pandemic in their own lives. Winnipeg charities want us all to know they are prepared to meet challenges but cannot do it alone.
It is going to take all of us together to decide how we want our city to rebuild and flourish. The Winnipeg Foundation’s tag line is For Good. Forever. For this to be realized it involves us all and to that I say, For Good. Forever., is achieved with love together. For the greatest love is of humankind. Through this, we assemble our collective energy and compassion to help elevate Winnipeg to a new level where love for all can lead the way. I believe we can, and we will.
This story is featured in the Spring 2022 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.