Building the community foundation movement

Photo: The Kelwood Playground and Wellness Committee received a grant to redevelop a playground. Credit: Courtesy of Beautiful Plains Community Foundation.


Community foundations throughout the province help their local communities flourish. Endow Manitoba, the network of our province’s community foundations, delivers responsive and proactive programming to help build an even stronger foundation movement.

The Winnipeg Foundation’s support to grow community foundations in the province began more than two decades ago. It first started with a regional scholarships program delivered in partnership with the provincial government. This presented a unique opportunity to support capacity building throughout Manitoba.

In 1996, The Foundation reported there were 18 established community foundations in the province with many more emerging. In its annual report that year, The Foundation noted, “An annual conference brings us together each year and face-to-face visits have helped us to rediscover, share and learn.”61

The Endow Manitoba brand was developed in the early 2000s. Since then, the growth of the movement has been impressive. In 2004, there were 31 community foundations in Manitoba; by 2020 it had grown to 56. Manitoba has the most foundations, per capita, in North America. When joining Endow Manitoba, foundations receive a variety of supports and the opportunity to pool investment assets with The Winnipeg Foundation, thereby increasing access to investment opportunities.

One successful Endow Manitoba initiative is the Giving Challenge, a time period in November during which community foundations solicit gifts from donors to their unrestricted funds. Since the initiative began in 2014, The Winnipeg Foundation has been supporting the efforts by stretching each $5 gift by an additional $1, to a maximum of $2,000 per foundation, per year. Beginning in 2017, the Manitoba government also began supporting the program by offering an additional stretch of $1 for every $5 raised, also to a maximum of $2,000 per foundation, per year. In 2020, more than $1.2 million was raised, and every eligible community foundation participated. Since it began, the Giving Challenge has resulted in more than $5.47 million being contributed to Manitoba community foundations’ unrestricted funds.

In 2018, Endow Manitoba was expanded with the addition of program-dedicated staff, to provide more support to the growing number of foundations. Since then, a variety of activities have taken place, including establishment of an Endow Manitoba Provincial Advisory Board. The Advisory Board helps ensure programs in development and delivered through Endow Manitoba will continue to support the needs of Manitoba community foundations in an effective and collaborative manner. The Advisory Board includes representatives from community foundations across the province.

“Representatives are the people on the ground in their respective communities and regions. They carry the knowledge about the wants and needs of their foundation – what works and what doesn’t, but also the desire to learn and grow as a movement,” Reg Black, Chair of the Brokenhead River Community Foundation and a founding member of the Advisory Board, said in 2019. “Collaboration among members of the Advisory Board will no doubt be a huge benefit for the foundation movement in our province.”

In 2020, Endow Manitoba benefitted from a $10 million endowment created by the Manitoba government to help ensure foundations have access to training, technology, research and resources. Some of the first priorities include capacity-building foundation board workshops delivered in each of the province’s foundation communities; research and development projects in partnership with Manitoba universities aimed at advancing the movement through “made in Manitoba” innovations; and information technology support to ensure equal access.


The Manitoba Heritage Trust Program (MHTP) is helping support museums and heritage institutions across our province by helping grow endowment funds to provide annual revenue.

MHTP, created by the Manitoba government, is administered by The Winnipeg Foundation’s Endow Manitoba initiative, with support from the Association of Manitoba Museums and the Association for Manitoba Archives.

Between 2018 and 2021, the Manitoba government is encouraging museums, archives, and supporting organizations to create an endowment fund at their local Manitoba community foundation. Stretch dollars are provided for gifts to these heritage funds.

At the end of 2020, there were more than 50 MHTP Funds supporting museum and heritage organizations throughout Manitoba.

The building that houses the St. Boniface Museum
St. Boniface Museum.

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