(January 23, 2023) With its release of Community Giving: The Growth and Giving Priorities of Community Foundations, The Charity Report looks at their history and giving practices.
Community foundations have existed in Canada for more than 100 years, with The Winnipeg Foundation being established in 1912. They are organized with the local need of the community in mind and, in modern times, are a vehicle for prospective philanthropists to establish donor advised funds. As reported in The Charity Report on August 18, 2020, “a donor advised fund (DAF) is an account established when a donor makes an irrevocable donation to a foundation that houses DAFS,” in this case community foundations.
“The donor to the DAF – which could be the account holder or a third-party donor – receives a donation receipt upon making the donation. On aggregate, the foundation which holds the DAF must disburse a minimum of 3.5% of the average balance over the previous two years, but there is no annual disbursement quota for individual fund holders. Community foundations have fully vested ownership of the DAFs, but generally follow the advice received from the donor advisors of the DAFs.
In 2020, The Charity Report also relayed that, “the federal government announced a $350 million investment, the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) to “improve the ability of community organizations to serve vulnerable Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis.” and said the funding would flow through three intermediary organizations—United Way Centraide,
the Canadian Red Cross and Community Foundations of Canada—who have “the ability to get funds quickly to community organizations that serve vulnerable populations.”
With this study, the purpose of The Charity Report is to provide basic information about how community foundations operate, their granting priorities, their regional role in the charity
sector and in broader society.
Key findings include:
- There are about 168 community foundations in Canada that cumulatively hold about $3.7 billion in gross assets value. Together, they disbursed about 6.5% of their assets in 2018.
- 80% of the gross asset value of community foundations are held by 5 community foundations. (See complete listing in Appendix A).
- 67% of the gross asset value of community foundations are held in western Canada.
The report primarily considered the activity of the top 5 community foundations. Between 2008 and 2018, the gross asset value in the top 5 community foundations grew by 212%, while gifts to qualified donees grew by 163%.
In 2018, the top 5 foundations jointly:
- Spent 5.93% (182.9 million) of their combined assets on all expenditures
- Spent 4.39% (145.9 million) of their assets on grants to qualified donees
- Issues 165.3 million in charitable tax receipts