Whistler’s foundation investing in our future 

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By Kerry Chalmers

Glacial ice, green roofs, snowboarding inner-city youth, forest history studies and expanding community capacity through dialogue are examples of the dividends being invested in Whistler through grants from the Community Foundation of Whistler.

The Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW) will never deplete its donations as it is committed to sharing the fruits of its investments with other community-based organizations, making it arguably one of the most sustainable organizations in our resort community. The CFOW is a registered Canadian charity founded in 1999. Our vision is to improve the quality of life in Whistler by enabling, demonstrating and encouraging philanthropy in Whistler and beyond.

Community foundations are different from other non-profits because they exist to support communities as a whole. The operating structure of community foundations is such that we never deplete our resources. Instead, we use them to grow the capacity of other community-based organizations, hence contributing to the overall sustainability of a community.

Endowment Building:

A community foundation is different from other charities in that we do not spend our donations. The donations go into endowment funds, which are like savings accounts where the capital is never touched. The capital is invested in the financial markets, and the income is returned to the community in the form of grants. The donations continue to grow in perpetuity. Thus, a community foundation is essentially a community’s most sustainable form of support. The CFOW uses this structure to ensure that funding will be available for the community each and every year — forever.

The CFOW is proud to have a portion of our endowments invested in a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) portfolio. This is an investment account that deals only with companies certified as socially and/or environmentally responsible. These are companies whose business and financial practices are screened. Corporations such as tobacco companies or companies that have poor environmental practices would not be deemed as “socially responsible” and hence are not qualified for investment.

SRI, or mission based investing, is a way for community foundations to use their financial assets to further their mission.

In the past, SR investing was not very popular because it was believed that SRI portfolios earned lower returns. However, research is now showing that this is simply not true. Many companies today strive to be certified by the Sustainable Responsible Investment Certification Program as socially responsible because this certification builds market confidence in their product and increases the pool of potential investment opportunities.

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