by Jo Barnes –
It feels good to give, but even better when you know your gift will keep giving forever.
The Saanich Peninsula Community Foundation (SPCF) provides the opportunity to donate money that will not only benefit the community immediately but will continue to do so in perpetuity.
“When I joined the organization I was drawn to the concept of a permanent endowment that will support this community forever,” shares Viola Vanderuyt, President and Chairperson, SPCF.
Run by a volunteer board of directors, SPCF encourages donations that are placed in an endowment fund with the Victoria Foundation. These funds are pooled and invested, and the returns are then disbursed as grants to worthy charities. In this way, a donor’s gift is something that will keep giving over and over again.
SPCF began almost 20 years ago, but developments like a partnership with Brentwood Bay Rotary Club, and successful fundraising events like the annual Lobsterfest, help generate funds to advertise and hold community events so that the work of the Foundation can continue and flourish. “To see the foundation grow from an initial distribution of about $2,000 to our current level of $25,000 has been rewarding,” says Doug Guedes, longest-serving Director on SPCF Board.
So how does SPCF decide which charitable groups should receive their support? First groups must be registered as charities with Canada Revenue Agency and have been in operation for at least a year. Groups must also have a definite purpose, projects covering a specific period of time, and a plan which promotes participation by volunteers.
Over the years the SPCF has provided numerous grants in the areas of health and social services, recreation, arts and culture, conservation and education. One example is the SPCF’s support of Vital Youth at Stelly’s School. This program teaches young people about philanthropy and actively engages them in charitable work. Students select a cause to support and submit it to SPCF for approval.
“We provide the students with $2,500 to grant in the community to typically two or three charities with a need that they identify,” says Viola. “We also provide $500 to a permanent endowment for Vital Youth that is held at the Victoria Foundation.”
SPCF efforts have resulted in community benefits such as Saanich Marine Rescue Society’s Saving Lives on the Water program and Countryside Preschool’s new playground facilities for children of limited mobility.
Says Doug: “Our granting process really gives us a chance to understand how many groups on the Peninsula can benefit from our efforts, and it is always a nice thing to witness the results!”
But SPCF has bigger plans. It is working towards becoming an autonomous organization which supports the Saanich Peninsula, separate from the Victoria Foundation which supports the Greater Victoria area.
“Next year we will be 20 years old and we are starting the process of setting up a standalone charity. This will allow us to receive large gifts directly and legacy gifts through wills and estate plans,” shares Viola. She adds: “We are making a difference. There is so much more we can do.”
And this is where you come into the picture. Maybe you feel prompted to make a donation. Maybe you know a worthy charity that could really use some support. Giving begins with awareness. And in this case, that giving can last well beyond your lifetime.