CFOW looks to increase its Community Fund 

Local charity reflects on past year at annual meeting

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRANDON BARRETT - COMMUNITY FIRST The Community Foundation of Whistler, which hands out tens of thousands of dollars in grants to community organizations each year, held its annual general meeting at the Maury Young Arts Centre last week.
  • Photo by Brandon Barrett
  • COMMUNITY FIRST The Community Foundation of Whistler, which hands out tens of thousands of dollars in grants to community organizations each year, held its annual general meeting at the Maury Young Arts Centre last week.

The Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW) is set to make a big push over the coming year to expand its Community Fund, according to the charity's recent yearly summit.

Addressing the few dozen in attendance at the CFOW's annual general meeting last Wednesday, Nov. 23, board member Robin Douglas spoke about how critical it is to grow the foundation's most flexible fund.

"We need to build up the Community Fund because it's the only fund that is really unrestricted," he explained. "That means the money goes where the board of directors and the subcommittees think the money should go."

The CFOW holds 27 funds for a wide range of causes, handing out over $216,000 to local groups and initiatives in 2016 alone. But the flexibility of the Community Fund means the organization can respond to the current needs of Whistler as well as address challenges that may emerge in the future.

"The Whistler of tomorrow, 20 or 30 years from now, is not the Whistler of today," Douglas added.

Right now the fund makes up about $90,000 of the $5.8 million at the CFOW's disposal, and just under $8,200 was granted from it last year. Douglas hopes to significantly bump up that number in the future — and local business owners will be key to that.

"It's going to be my mission in the coming year to encourage ownership of business to start investing in this future," he said.

One way the CFOW can build that fund is through its Legacy Book project that was launched this summer. The project gives community members a chance to leave both a personal and financial legacy for years to come by inscribing a personal statement in the book and making a promise to leave a monetary gift or bequest to the CFOW.

The other major initiative on the CFOW's docket for 2016 was the first ever Vital Signs report, released in October, which asked residents to identify the local issues that matter to them most, providing a roadmap for future action. The CFOW engaged with dozens of community members and stakeholders through the development stages, and garnered more than 600 responses through an online survey.

"We see the report as a key tool in informing our grant programs and other activities at the foundation. We also hope that it can inform the work of other community organizations," said board member Carole Stretch.

Currently a community group-needs assessment is underway to create a baseline of knowledge for the non-profit sector and to help identify potential avenues for collaboration on key issues.

"The community sector definitely, we believe, has a leadership role to play as community stewards," Stretch said. "Questions we're seeking to answer through this survey are: what is the capacity of our local non-profit sector? What challenges are they facing? Do we need to rethink how the sector functions, and how we need to support it as a community foundation?"

The CFOW is inviting local non-profits to attend a Vital Dialogue session from 2 to 5 p.m. at the library on Tuesday, Dec. 6 to discuss the results of the Vital Signs report and explore next steps.

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