Building a foundation of support on the Saanich Peninsula

There’s a group of people dedicated to helping make the community a better place, and they’re doing it with an ever-growing pool of cash.

There’s a group of people dedicated to helping make the community a better place, and they’re doing it with an ever-growing pool of cash.

The Saanich Peninsula Community Foundation was established 14 years ago, says one of the Foundation directors, Clive Tanner. He says it was Jack Barker, a municipal councillor in Sidney at the time, who was concerned about how often community groups were coming to town council with requests for funding.

“He didn’t want any of them to go wanting,” Tanner says.

So, the Saanich Peninsula Community Foundation started, with funds contributed by North Saanich and Sidney. It follows in the footsteps of the highly successful Victoria Foundation. That group, Tanner says, was Canada’s second such entity, started by an act of the legislature. Only the community foundation in Regina, Saskatchewan, is older — and the first one in Canada, he says.

The Victoria Foundation, Tanner notes, has been doing very well, with an estimated $116 million in its endowment account, generating an annual pool of funds from which they distribute to various organizations in need.

On the Saanich Peninsula, that pool of money sits at around $500,000, Tanner says.

“We should be doing better than that,” he says. “Fundraisers help support the Foundation to be successful.”

Foundation members are also active in the region, seeking corporate donations, bequests, property and other gifts. That pool of money, he explains, supports others in health and social services, arts and culture, education, conservation and recreation.

A three-person, non-partisan grants committee reviews applications each year and the successful groups — big and small — are notified of an annual ceremony in June where the funds are handed out.

Groups that have benefitted from Foundation grants in the past include: Sidney Concert Orchestra, Sidney Preschool, Saanich Peninsula Hospital Auxiliary, Saanich Pioneer Society, North Saanich Mountain Bike Society and Peninsula Soccer, to name a few.

Yet, says Tanner, as a funding source the Saanich Peninsula Community Foundation is still relatively unknown. That could be attributed, he says, to a low profile board of directors.

However, they do get into the community with fundraising events — like their annual Lobsterfest — to help add to their permanent endowment.

Even so, Tanner says the pace of donations is still relatively low — but at least their endowment is always growing. That fund, Tanner says, is managed by the Victoria Foundation.

“They have the professionals who know how to do that,” he says.

“The money generated on the half-million we have is around 10 per cent. That means we have around $17,000 to give away in 2015.”

Typically, the grants given by the Foundation amount to around $2,000 or $3,000 each. Added to other sources of funds (the Saanich Peninsula municipal governments also have annual grants programs), Tanner says the Foundation contributes to many good causes.

“And saying no is always tough.”

Groups have until April 1 to apply for Saanich Peninsula Community Foundation funds.

To find out how, visit saanichpeninsulafoundation.ca or call 250-655-4447.