Victoria Foundation broadens its funding mandate

New initiatives seek to enhance focused giving, foster non-profit activities

Heather Gardiner

After reading the signs and considering possible directions, the Victoria Foundation is taking new steps toward creating the transformational change Greater Victoria needs to grow more healthy, vital and vibrant.

Following up on the publication last fall of its eighth annual Vital Signs report, which analyzes and grades various indicators of health and progress in the Capital Region, the foundation has unveiled two new initiatives.

The first, the Community Knowledge Centre, is an online resource containing detailed information on local not-for-profit and charitable organizations. The goal, said foundation board chair Deirdre Roberts, is to make it easier for foundation donors and other interested parties to target local programs and projects that need support.

A search function allows website users to drill down further and find listings for organizations that support a particular population, serve a specific geographic area or address particular issues in the community.

“The community can find out how to contribute to immediate needs and the organizations themselves can discover ways of working together to help address complex issues,” Roberts said.

Vital Loans, the second of the two initiatives unveiled today at Government House, is designed to provide non-profits with up to $500,000, financed over 36 months, to undertake projects or program enhancements.

Victoria Foundation and partner Island Savings Credit Union have created a Vital Loans fund, from which donor investments will act as collateral for organizations that wouldn’t qualify for a conventional loan.

Island Savings chief financial officer Bill Snell said the loans can be used either to cover costs associated with a specific project, or to cover operational costs while groups plan a special project that may have a future revenue stream.

“It allows them to get their programs out in the community, as opposed to (having to build) the nest egg behind it first,” he said.

Pacific Opera Victoria is the first group approved for a loan under the program. It will use the funds as “bridge financing” as it produces a citywide festival aimed at bringing various aspects of opera to children and families in the Capital Region.

“An important part of making this festival happen was acquiring the short-term capital we would need to finance three productions simultaneously,” said POV executive director Patrick Corrigan.

The loans program is an example of “mission-based investing,” Snell said, which aims to provide cash flow for organizations whose values and operational goals and approach match those of potential donors.

Applicants will be assessed by both the foundation and Island Savings for the strength of their business plan and management, he added.

“We are anticipating that with this program, it is going to draw a lot of interest,” Snell said. “Whether it’s arts and culture or other groups, they’ll be looking at it closely.”

editor@vicnews.com

Foundational supports

• The Victoria Foundation’s Community Knowledge Centre resource is at ckc.victoriafoundation.bc.ca

• Criteria and other details of the Vital Loans program can be found at victoriafoundation.bc.ca/vital-loans

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