Giving back to the city


“The Winnipeg Foundation and the community building fund give me an opportunity to be involved.” – Barbara Sharp.
Barbara Sharp’s monthly gifts to the Foundation’s community building fund make a difference.

Barbara Sharp loves Winnipeg, and she loves giving back to her community. As a self-described shy person, she’s not comfortable volunteering. That’s why supporting The Foundation’s Community Building Fund is a perfect fit for her.

“Some people are very good at being involved in charities and working on them and organizing them and I think that’s wonderful, but it’s not something that I think I could do. The Winnipeg Foundation and the Community Building Fund give me an opportunity to be involved through regular donations.”

Born and raised in Winnipeg, our friendliness is one of Ms. Sharp’s favourite things about the city.

“When I’m out and just going for a walk, I like to say hello to people on the street – smile at people, have them smile back at me. To me, little things like that make me feel good,” she says. “There’s a lot of places that don’t have that feeling. That’s another reason why I love Winnipeg – people seem to really care about each other. It’s all a sense of community.”

She first learned about The Foundation from a neighbour, and soon after participated in our 90-Hour Giving Challenge in 2011, during which time The Foundation stretched gifts made to charities. Later, she decided she would like to streamline her giving, and began making regular monthly gifts to The Foundation.

“I was getting a little annoyed with some organizations that were constantly sending [requests for] more money. And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be better if I just give to one place?’ It makes it easier for me.”

She spoke with a member of The Foundation’s Donor Services Team, and after discussing her interests, Ms. Sharp decided she’d like to make regular gifts to The Foundation’s general Winnipeg Community Building Fund.

“I have wide interests and concerns that I just can’t seem to focus on one thing. So, to me it’s best to just leave it in this Community Building Fund because it encompasses a lot of things.”

By making gifts to the general Winnipeg Community Building Fund, Ms. Sharp is supporting the community’s most pressing needs and emerging opportunities. She’s also giving The Foundation the discretion to determine which charities receive support through its Responsive Grants program.

“I thought that that was the best thing because The Winnipeg Foundation would know best where the money was needed.”

Ms. Sharp’s partner is dealing with vision issues, and she knows he will likely one day need the support of Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Knowing that she’s supporting all organizations, including CNIB, through the general Community Building Fund is reassuring to her.

Ms. Sharp spent her career at Great-West Life Assurance Company, working in the investments division prior to her retirement, so she sees the value of endowments, and of working together to support the community.

“I understand the importance of investing and I think this is a great idea to take the money and help it to grow. And that it’s always going to be there to make sure this community gets the help that it needs,” she says. “Every gift makes a difference and it doesn’t matter how big or how small it is. That’s the idea with an endowment fund: your contribution – no matter how big or small – is helping the community.”

Since she’s become a regular donor, Ms. Sharp has attended a number of Foundation events. She’s participated in a small group meeting with Foundation CEO Rick Frost, where she discussed what The Foundation can do to enhance her experience as a donor. She attended the opening of the Alloway Arch and Widow’s Mite fountain at The Forks in 2015, which pays homage to Foundation founder William Forbes Alloway and the second gift ever received by The Foundation. And she’s gone on Community Learning Sessions, where she’s able to learn about charities and upcoming programs and projects she’s helping to support, such as Assiniboine Park’s Diversity Gardens.

“It’s just wonderful,” she says of the events she’s participated in. “It really brings the community even closer.”

And to Ms. Sharp, building a strong community is vital.

“I love Winnipeg. I love the community feel of it. There’s so much that Winnipeg has to offer as far as entertainment, sports, things to do, and it’s a good place to raise a family… Of course, there are people who need help and I want to make sure that those people get the help that they need.”

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