By Aaron McRann
On June 22, 2012, Ian Bird, President & CEO of Community Foundations of Canada, and Terry Jackson, CFC Chairman, came to Penticton, BC to help the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan (CFSO) celebrate a major milestone in its history.
This is our 20th year and we’ve surpassed $6 million in our endowment fund … but these were not the reasons for the celebration. We were celebrating an even more significant milestone: granting a total of more than $1 million to local charities.
For a small region such as ours, putting $1 million back into local work to make our communities more vibrant and vital is a huge deal. Even more exciting is the fact that, with $6 million in the endowment fund, we should be able to surpass $2 million in total granting within the next five years or less!
We invited Ian and Terry to our Thanks a Million Celebration at the beautiful Poplar Grove Winery, with 80 of our closest supporters. While the impetus was to celebrate the past, Ian’s presentation – and our core purpose in bringing everyone together – was focused on imagining the future: a future built on Smart & Caring Communities.
The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan is already a regional Foundation, supporting 7 towns and several smaller villages. We already have four community funds, but they are small and have been quite inactive. The first step will likely be to rebrand them as Smart & Caring Community Funds. But we are boldly imagining the possibilities right now, thinking about how we can truly make a difference with this program.
Imagine creating Smart & Caring Community “boards of directors” in each community to promote and build their own community funds. Imagine supporting these SCC boards in their marketing efforts and in the process of determining annual grant allocations for their communities. Imagine connecting with a whole new network of donors who are focused entirely on their own small community and who once feared getting lost in a larger, regionalized structure.
We believe Smart & Caring Communities will galvanize our neighbours to act for the betterment of their communities. Our role will be to support them in their efforts to build their endowment and to build real, working services that make their communities better places to live. Our goal is to use Smart & Caring Communities as not only the spark for growing an endowment, but the impetus to begin community impact work in earnest.
As with most other foundations, our vision for Smart & Caring Communities is still evolving. To do justice to the communities we serve – and to the Governor General’s vision – we will meet with each community and ask them what they want Smart & Caring Communities to mean in their town.
Convening, inspiring, and listening – as Ian and CFC are doing – are key.
Aaron McRann is Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan.