The Campbell River Community Foundation (CRCF) is the silent partner in a lot of community projects in the Campbell River area.You don’t see a big plaque hailing the foundation’s contribution but it plays a large role in helping groups help people in the region.
The foundation’s mission is simple. ”We exist to support non-profit organizations in the community that help people,” said Mary Ashley, Community Foundation president.
“We fund a fairly wide, diverse group of charitable organizations. In 2014 alone, the CRCF funded 12 projects for a total of $31,400 (see sidebar). But few people really know about the CRCF and what it does.
So, what does the CRCF do? In a nutshell, according to its Mission Statement, the CRCF enriches life in Campbell River by:
• Developing a permanent endowment;
• Assessing and responding to the emerging and changing community needs;
• Providing a vehicle and service for donors with varied interests and levels of giving;
• Serving as a resource catalyst for charitable activities in our community.
The CRCF acts as a community umbrella, providing grants to many non-profit, charitable organizations which, in turn, support the needs of the community.
The CRCF came about in 1990 when then-Mayor Robert Ostler and city council were notified of a meeting that was to take place win Ottawa to discuss the concept of Community Foundations in Canada.
The meeting was hosted by the Ottawa Community Foundation and funded co-operatively by the Vancouver Foundation, Winnipeg Foundation and the Toronto Community Foundation.
Mayor Ostler and city council were intrigued by the concept and then-Coun. Ashley went to Ottawa as a guest of the Vancouver Foundation to learn more about the movement. Ashley was quickly converted into an enthusiastic supporter of the concept and reported back to council which then agreed to set aside $5,000 in seed funding for a new Campbell River Community Foundation.
An initial group of community leaders was formed to begin the task of building a community foundation in Campbell River.
Ostler, Irene Ross, Judge Tony Sarich, Dr. Bob Gordon, Coun. Ashley and Bill Halstead (then city clerk) participated in the early development which led to the formation of the community foundation as a non-profit society.
The society then applied for and obtained charitable status so that tax receipts could be issued to donors who helped to build the permanent fund. One of the first funds to be established was a legacy from the Western Premiers’ Conference held in Campbell River in 1994. The interest from the legacy is directed towards the need of children and youth in the community.There are two basic types of funding by the CRCF. One involves donors allowing the grants committee of the foundation to decide on grants based on a variety of needs and the other type of fund is set aside for specific community non-profit groups such as the Museum at Campbell River, the Hospital Foundation and Trinity Presbyterian Church for example.Besides year-round donations, the CRCF holds two special fundraising events each year. One is the annual Swing for Charity golf tournament in May and the Campbell River Community Foundation Gala in October. Both events are supported by the business community and community leaders.In her message on the CRCF’s website (www.crfoundation.ca), president Ashley said, “It is all about the donors who make this work possible, from individuals who establish tax-receiptable Family Funds, legacies, insurance policies and other forms of giving to provide assurance of future growth and a ‘forever gift’ towards the well-being of Campbell River. There are many businesses and volunteers who support the Foundation in its goals through special events that continue to build the assets.
What a wonderful way to contribute beyond our lifetimes to one of the most beautiful and caring places on earth! ”One way to think of the CRCF is as a gift that keeps on giving. It also allows anybody to give back to their community no matter how modest your means. Just regular people can do this,” said CRCF board member Bill Ritchie.
That’s because all donations are pooled together and the combined funds generate an ongoing mechanism for funding specific project needs in the community.
The way it works is that all the donations are pooled and the interest they generate is what is used to fund projects.
”We don’t spend the money we get, we spend the interest,” Ritchie said. And it starts to add up.
The CRCF’s main pool of funds is now at $1.6 million. It has taken 15 years to raise the first $1 million but Ritchie expects the next $1 million will come in over the next five years as the CRCF continues to build momentum and becomes more and more familiar to the community.
At the heart of it all is the opportunity for people who live in this region to leave a legacy. That is a strong motivator.
”There’s quite a few families that are building funds; some small and some large because it’s one way to leave a legacy in their family names,” Ashley said.
Ritchie is not just a board member, he is also a contributor to the foundation through a family fund.
”Before she died, (my wife and I) had made a decision that we’re going to restrict our giving to Campbell River. When she died, I started a fund in our family’s name and I learned about a way it could be done through insurance.
”People leave legacies in order to continue contributing to the community well into the future I think that this community (has) got a lot of spirit and it’s a generous community,” Ashley said.
The CRCF has a close relationship with the Vancouver Foundation – the largest in Canada – through which it is investing its permanent endowment.
The size of the Vancouver Foundation’s endowment enables it to help smaller foundations by increasing the amount of interest earned on the permanent fund through sound investing.
One of the CRCF’s preferred methods of working is to contribute to projects that seek matching grants which allows it to maximize the contribution.
Groups can apply for a grant by visiting the CRCF website. The deadline for grant applications this year is March 13.
You can download an application form from their website.