Understanding Indigenous philanthropy


Report aims to define, support and enable Manitoba’s Indigenous philanthropic sector.

The Winnipeg Foundation is part of the team aiming to build a better understanding of the Indigenous philanthropic sector in Manitoba, to help create an enabling environment in which Indigenous philanthropy can flourish.

A two-year collaboration between The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (The Circle), United Way Winnipeg and The Winnipeg Foundation resulted in the 2017 publication Measuring the Circle: Emerging Trends in Philanthropy for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Communities in Canada – A Focus on Manitoba.

The report identifies that for many Indigenous people, the word charity is problematic as it implies “a deficit model of helping that is not culturally relevant and does not fit within the Indigenous conceptualization of reciprocity.” Furthermore, in some cases charities are providing services to Indigenous people that were originally guaranteed by the treaties.

Exploring and building consensus around concepts of Indigenous philanthropy was one of the project’s objectives. Amongst the terms agreed upon and defined are:

  • Indigenous-focused charities: those that are registered charities with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and have a mandate to serve Indigenous peoples.
  • Indigenous charities: registered charities that not only serve Indigenous people, but also have significant Indigenous leadership and cultural values woven into the fabric of the organization.

Using CRA data, the report determined there are 4,392 charities in Manitoba, of which 85 are Indigenous-focused – or approximately two percent.

The report developed a definitional matrix to determine what makes a charity Indigenous. According to findings, The Winnipeg Foundation is a charity that has Indigenous beneficiaries.

The report states, “[t]here is much more work to be done to advance Indigenous philanthropy. For Indigenous charities, there is a keen interest in gaining knowledge about how to develop stronger partnerships with non-Indigenous donors, particularly large foundations. For non-Indigenous donors, there is a quest to participate in the overall societal movement towards truth and reconciliation and to engage in meaningful, equal partnerships with Indigenous peoples. There is also a real opportunity to further integrate Indigenous approaches to community caring and sharing to increase resiliency across all of Canadian society. There are many research opportunities that can build on the findings of this project to the benefit of all those who call this land home.”

Some of the report’s conclusions and recommendations include:

  • Establishing an Indigenous organization accreditation process with guiding principles.
  • Prioritizing funding to Indigenous communities and organizations to advance truth and reconciliation. This includes helping to “hold government accountable for equitable provision of public services to Indigenous communities as outlined in the Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action.” See more below.
  • Seeking out and supporting guidance from Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers.
  • Expanding training related to Indigenous philanthropy.
  • Continuing to support research on Indigenous philanthropy.

For a copy of the full report, contact The Circle’s through their website: the-circle.ca

The Foundation’s new reconciliation granting stream

At The Winnipeg Foundation’s Annual Celebration in January 2018, we announced a brand new granting stream. In 2018, $1 million in grants will be available for projects that uphold one or more of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action. Program details are currently being developed by an Advisory Committee, with further information available in the spring. Grantees will be announced in fall. More info will be available at wpgfdn.org in the coming months.

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