Everything you want to know about your new community foundation
Across Canada, 191 community foundations are actively working to make their communities a better place.
In the world of community foundations, Innisfil Community Foundation (ICF) is the new kid on the block. While many community foundations have been operating in Canada for decades (in fact, the Winnipeg Community Foundation is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year) 2020 was ICF’s first year in operation.
Because we’re so new, we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some information with you.
What exactly is a community foundation?
Community foundations exist to make their communities a better place through financial grants and networking. They learn the ins and outs of the community, including its needs, strengths, opportunities and challenges. ICF’s Board of Directors volunteer for many community organizations, giving them a bird’s eye view of the community. These relationships help ICF make connections and strengthen the common good in town.
Where did ICF come from?
ICF is the result of years of planning and saving by our forward-thinking partners at the Town of Innisfil. Since 2002, the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG) has provided the Town with funds to support community projects. In 2013, Innisfil Town Council asked the question: “How can the OLG’s generosity make a bigger impact on the community?” Town Council began transferring some of the OLG funds into a reserve fund for the future community foundation. In 2019, Council formally committed to establishing ICF. We deeply value our partnership with the Town of Innisfil, but ICF operates at an arm’s length, with all decisions made by our independent Board of Directors.
The ICF Difference
When creating ICF, we made the bold decision not to endow funds. This choice challenged the status quo in the community foundation world, where investment funds are typically endowed, with a portion of the interest granted to charity. While researching and developing ICF, we learned that Canadian foundations have over $80 billion in assets, and most of those are tied up in endowment investments. That represents a great deal of money sitting on the sidelines. At ICF, we believe in a rich community – not a rich foundation. Choosing not to endow our funds means we can put donations to work in our community today. We believe that this decision makes us more responsive and flexible – and if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that responsiveness and flexibility are key in supporting the community through challenging times.
Another way we’re setting ourselves apart is by tearing down the power dynamics of traditional grantmaking. Too often, funders get in the way of charities doing the work they know best. At ICF, we value the partnerships we have with grantees and are here to elevate the work that local charities are doing. We are doing everything we can to take the administrative burden off of those on the front lines, so they can do the important work that matters the most.
We are proud to have played a role in our community’s COVID-19 response, granting $179,575 to local charities in 2020. Beyond the cheque, we created opportunities for charities and nonprofits to network and gain a better understanding of the important work they are doing. 2020 was our first year in operation, and while we expected we would learn a lot in our first year, we never expected the added challenge of a global pandemic! COVID-19 shaped how we operate, and the biggest example of this was instead of typical granting cycles we responded to needs in real-time – something we’re continuing in 2021.
ICF is Your Community Foundation
The sense of community in Innisfil is unlike anywhere else. Every day, people are pulling up their sleeves to make our town a better place for us all. We are proud to work with local charities and are passionate about connecting our community. ICF is your community foundation, Innisfil, and we look forward to getting to know you as we work together to strengthen our community’s common good.
Now that you know more about us, we want to learn more about you!
Do you represent a non-profit or charity?
If so, reach out and tell us about your mission. What kinds of needs are you seeing in the community? What ideas (big or small) do you have to create positive change?
Are you interested in making an impact through a charitable donation?
We’d love to hear more about your philanthropic goals and would embrace the opportunity to discuss how your generosity can support important local initiatives.
Would you like to help spread the word about ICF?
We’re recruiting volunteer ambassadors who can help spread the word about ICF!
We’d love to hear from our community and encourage you to reach out to ICF’s Executive Director, Jenn Rae, at email@example.com or 705-436-1755.