Taking direction from community


The Winnipeg Foundation is listening and learning as we build our best path forward.
By Sky Bridges, CEO, The Winnipeg Foundation

Community foundations represent a commitment to a community’s perpetual improvement. When you make a gift to a community foundation, not only are you saying you believe a community is worth investing in, but you’re also putting your trust in the institution. Community foundations respond to community needs, and while those needs may change, the dependability of that support does not.

During the global pandemic, The Winnipeg Foundation continued to provide reliable support to charities working on the frontline. Between March 2020 and June 2021, more than $17 million in COVID-19 related support was distributed within our community. This is a result of the decades of donors who have given to The Winnipeg Foundation during our past 100 years, including those who gave to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund. You can read more – Supporting the community during COVID-19.

So how does a community foundation know how best to respond to community needs? Our board and staff have been thinking about this question given the increased calls for racial equity and social justice. It requires an awareness of the historic and systemic injustices faced by Indigenous communities, Black communities, People of Colour, the 2SLGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities. It also requires understanding power structures and how institutions may inadvertently perpetuate inequities. You can read more here – Building a community that truly is “for all”.

As The Winnipeg Foundation embarks on its second century, we are committed to asking, listening and learning from the community as we build our best path forward.

There are a variety of ways we are doing this. We know charities and their staff have been hugely impacted by COVID-19. Our Grants team is committed to listening to community organizations, being flexible with funding, and utilizing an equity lens for its work. Megan Tate, our Director of Community Grants, explains what this means in Grantmaking in the time of COVID-19. The Foundation also surveyed community organizations to gain a more formal understanding of their experiences; read more – Charity check-in: understanding how Winnipeg’s sector is navigating COVID.

As part of our centennial celebrations this year, we invited leaders from a variety of sectors to articulate their visions for Winnipeg’s next 100 years, and the potential role philanthropy might play in achieving those aspirations. The essay collection was so well received, we’ve turned it into a speakers series, called Examining philanthropy’s role in shaping Winnipeg’s Next 100 years. The first virtual session offered this month will focus on conversations crucial to philanthropy’s future, including how to ensure we as donors are not inadvertently causing harm through our giving. Learn about upcoming conversations at wpgfdn.org/next100.

There are many other ways we are asking community for feedback. We are currently undergoing a brand audit, and are also developing grantee and donor perception surveys. Vital Signs® will return for 2022, offering an opportunity for the larger community to weigh in on the quality of life in our city. We will also hold Vital Conversations on topics identified by stakeholders, beginning in 2022.

Foundation CEO, Sky Bridges shares a message in every Working Together magazine. Download or view the full Fall 2021 issue on our Publications page.

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