The Winnipeg Foundation: Working together to support Manitoba communities

Apr 26, 2021 | Chamber News, Corporate Member News, Front Page

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of both The Winnipeg Foundation and the Canadian community foundation movement, The Foundation has developed a special website and magazine filled with stories commemorating 100 years of community support. Learn more at

Did you know Winnipeg is the birthplace of the Canadian community foundation movement? Since then, community foundations have spread throughout the province – and momentum continues to grow! Community foundations are charities, built on the premise that we are stronger when we work together. Gifts are endowed, and a portion of annual interest is granted out to the community.

The Winnipeg Foundation is Canada’s first community foundation (public charitable organization), and was created by William Forbes and Elizabeth Alloway in 1921 with a gift of $100,000. The Foundation’s second gift – three gold coins, valued at $15 – was not received until 1924. This gift was well worth the wait; it demonstrated it was not the amount, but rather the act of giving that matters, and it solidified that we achieve more when we work together.

As the concept of community foundations and the opportunities they present have become better understood, thousands have supported The Winnipeg Foundation and other community foundations across our province, country, and world. Generous gifts of all sizes are pooled and permanently invested, and the interest earned from these endowments generates a sustainable source of support for local charitable projects. In 2020, The Foundation received more than $187 million in gifts and distributed $73 million to the community.

The Winnipeg Foundation has long supported the growth and development of community foundations across the province, dating back to the 1980s. In 1996, there were 18 community foundations in the province – which increased with the Thomas Sill Foundation’s challenge to Manitoba communities to establish local community foundations to address community well-being, now and into the future. The Winnipeg Foundation responded by creating programs that support rural community foundations’ operations and investments, without impacting independence.

Today, Manitoba has the most community foundations per capita in North America. With 56 community foundations across the province, odds are your hometown is supported by a community foundation. Rural Manitoba foundations manage more than $150 million in assets, which means each year these foundations grant millions of dollars to a wide range of local charitable projects.

In 2018, The Winnipeg Foundation combined and bolstered these supports under the banner of Endow Manitoba. These community foundations are led by volunteer Boards which represent the community and its interests, and the majority of these foundations do not have paid staff. Endow Manitoba provides guidance and support so these volunteer-led organizations can grow and succeed. Thanks to a permanent endowment established by the Manitoba government in 2020, Endow Manitoba now has the capacity to support provincial community foundation development and capacity building, while also undertake programming related to academic research, information technology, and networking. For example, all Endow Manitoba member community foundations now receive laptops and software to ensure connectivity.

The Endow Manitoba Giving Challenge is an annual opportunity to engage donors throughout the province to make a gift to their local community foundations’ community funds. Since the program 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 each $5 raised, to a maximum of $2,000 per foundation, per year. In 2020, more than $1.2 million was raised.

To learn more about the community foundation serving your favourite community, and how you can get involved, go to

[Pictured right: The Kelwood Playground and Wellness Committee receiving a grant from the Beautiful Plains Community Foundation to redevelop a playground. Photo courtesy of Beautiful Plains Community Foundation.]

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