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General News · 13th May 2016
Sandra Wood
A small steering committee is working toward starting a community foundation for Cortes Island. These minutes are a summary of our 2nd public meeting held May 2/2016, which was well attended by 20 persons with good island representation from many of our existing non-profits and charities.

What is a community foundation?
A community foundation is a single entity non-profit organization that coordinates and funds the efforts of many other, more specific non-profit services in the community. The foundation’s task is to recognize needs in the community, by consulting with local non-profits & charities, then supporting projects and programs that meet those needs.

A community foundation operates by seeking funds from donors, estate bequests, other foundations or granting agencies; both to fund immediate needs by grants to existing non-profits, and to build a permanent endowment to provide continuous funding in future from the endowment income.

What does a community foundation do?
Typical projects undertaken by other community foundations are: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment, Health, Heritage, Recreation, and Social Services.

At this meeting, attendees also did a visioning session on potential Cortes-Crafted projects for our community such as: create more affordable housing options, multi-generation legacies, transportation solutions, music education, youth & family programs, linked forest trail network, aquaculture and eco-forestry support, wild crafting, local food sustainability, improved internet, economic development collaborations, and more….

What is the idea for Cortes?
There are 3 options:
1/ Start as a special Cortes Fund (under the umbrella of a larger community foundation, for example the Vancouver or Victoria Foundations). The advantage of this option is a quicker start-up, with full administrative support by the “parent” foundation, with the Cortes Fund’s Board of Directors making the decision on the allocation of the actual grants for Cortes. The potential disadvantages are the investment philosophy of the parent foundation (regarding ethical, socially responsible choices), their administrative fees, and the perception of local donations going into a larger foundation?

2/ The Cortes Fund could negotiate a transition plan that would allow them to become their own Foundation in future, for example if they were expecting a large endowment or estate bequeath that would cover local operating & staff expenses. The advantage of establishing our own Cortes Foundation (in the future) would be that we would have total control of the investment philosophy for our local endowment. The main disadvantage is that the original Cortes Seed fund must remain with the parent foundation (it cannot be moved), although we still have access to it for local grant allocations.

3/ Create a local Cortes Foundation from the beginning, using the blue print documentation available, from Community Foundations Canada who offer workshops, advice and assistance to start-up foundations. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get started, as we learn about administration, investment, grant giving decision. The main advantage is that a Cortes Foundation becomes the most recognizable “face” for giving in this community and has a higher chance of successful fundraising. The main disadvantage is covering the operating costs for the first few years while the endowment is built.

Next Steps?
The existing steering committee is ready to appoint the first board of directors. The Board’s first decision is to choose one of the above 3 options, then build the mission and develop a constitution with bylaws in consultation with the community and other non-profits. They will then apply to CRA for charitable tax status. Once that is achieved, they will begin fundraising.

The board’s ongoing work is also policy development; public involvement, non-profit sector involvement, and eventually requesting grant proposals for projects. The board can begin the important work of strategic discussions about needs in the community while the legal and tax structure is underway.

If you are interested in participating either as a potential founding board member or a committee member, then please contact Frances Guthrie via e-mail or phone 250-935-6782.

With Thanks from the Cortes Community Foundation Steering Committee:

Noba Anderson
Colin Funk
Frances Guthrie
Greg Osoba
David Rousseau
Sandra Wood