Providing stability in times of great upheaval


From our board chair

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life – and the charitable sector – as we know it. It has revealed cracks in society through which our most vulnerable can fall. There is hope that people will come out of this situation thinking differently about how we live, how we treat each other, and our priorities. In many cases, it’s our charities that support those vulnerable citizens, and it’s our charities that draw attention to inequities and call for new and innovative programming.

And yet, right now, our charities are suffering. According to Winnipeg Foundation-initiated surveys of bellwether organizations, the bulk of charities have experienced a loss of revenue and have had to adjust staffing. Read more – Understanding charities’ COVID-19 challenges. While charities are demonstrating incredible resilience and adaptability, the services they offer are being impacted, even though demand has remained the same or increased. These results are in line with statistics gathered by Imagine Canada, the national umbrella organization representing the charitable sector.

Charities play a vital role in our community and are instrumental to our quality of life. From arts and culture to the alleviation of poverty, it is impossible to imagine a flourishing community without the passion and impact of hundreds of community agencies.

The Winnipeg Foundation is fast approaching its 100th anniversary. When William Forbes Alloway established The Foundation on April 26, 1921, the world was recovering from the Spanish Flu. That pandemic, which lasted from 1918 to 1920, is estimated to have killed between 17 and 50 million and infected one-third of the world’s population.

While we don’t know exactly what Mr. Alloway was feeling when he made his $100,000 founding gift, we do know he was struck by the idea of creating a community trust that would be available to support the changing needs of the community. Such a trust would create long term stability in times of great upheaval – something which the world had just experienced.

“Because Winnipeg has been my home and has done more for me than it ever may be in my power to repay. I owe everything to this community and I feel that it should derive some benefit from what I have been able to accumulate,” Alloway said almost 100 years ago.

This bust of William Forbes Alloway, founder of The Winnipeg Foundation, dons a mask made by Foundation donor Julie Ross and family.

Winnipeg’s culture of generosity runs deep, and though the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for us all, it has also resulted in incredible stories of hope and kindness. Consider Julie Ross and family, who sewed masks and made them available for community members by donation; the effort raised more than $6,800, which they donated to their family fund at The Foundation.

It is this culture of generosity that has given The Foundation the ability to respond during the COVID-19 crisis. Generations of Winnipeggers have made gifts that allow The Foundation to respond to the community’s changing needs.

Since the pandemic struck, The Foundation has made more than 120 COVID-19 Emergency Response Grants ranging in size from $2,000 to $100,000, and introduced a new, $6 million Stabilization Grants program to support the short- and medium-term financial needs of local charities. Read more – Supporting our community during unprecedented times.

It also established the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which immediately directs funds to those charities that need it most. Dozens of citizens have made gifts to this fund. Many of The Foundation’s Donor-Advisors have also augmented The Foundation’s granting with additional funds.

That The Foundation has been able to adapt and respond so quickly is a testament to its excellent leadership, which for the past 23 years has been provided by Rick Frost. On May 14, Rick publicly announced his plans to retire, effective April 26, 2021 – the date of The Foundation’s 100th anniversary. Read more – Winnipeg Foundation CEO announces plans to retire.

Rick’s stellar guidance and reputation for collaboration has grown The Winnipeg Foundation to the premiere organization it is today. While we will all miss Rick, we know he has built a strong team that will continue to provide the responsive community support we have come to depend on. He has continued Alloway’s vision for providing stability in times of great upheaval, and for that we are grateful.

This edition of Working Together was originally scheduled to come out in earlier spring, but was postponed due to the pandemic. You’ll see the first quarter of this edition is devoted to COVID-19 coverage, and the rest contains many stories that were written before life as we know it changed. While we do not know what life will be like moving forward, we do know that Winnipeggers will no doubt continue to rise to the occasion. This pandemic has reinforced that we truly are stronger by Working Together.

Doneta Brotchie
Board Chair, The Winnipeg Foundation

From our board chair is featured at the beginning of every issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full Spring 2020 issue on our Publications page.

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