With some new methods and a new logo courtesy of an art student at David Thompson Secondary School, the Columbia Valley Community Foundation (CVCF) is looking to raise their profile in the Columbia Valley.
“The biggest reason we’ve decided to spend $500 on advertising ourselves is because people don’t know who we are or what we do,” said CVCF vice-chair Dr. Don Miller from the organization’s booth outside Valley Foods on Saturday (July 7).
The CVCF has been active since 2000, when a small group of Columbia Valley residents took it upon themselves to form a local community foundation.
For those unaware of what a community foundation actually does, the principal roles these foundations take on are to cultivate and grow legacy funds for the communities in question, and then to share these funds through grants to support a wide range of community initiatives. These foundations, which are non-profit, typically run on a large pool of funding that comes from a variety of sources, from private donors to larger organizations like the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).
In the case of the CVCF, they estimate they give out roughly $20,000 a year to a variety of local organizations, including groups like the Columbia Valley Food Bank, Pynelogs, the Columbia Valley Arts Council, ICAN, and the Invermere Hospital Auxiliary.
“[Applications] have to meet certain criteria,” said CVCF co-chair Janice McGregor. “It has to be for the good of the community, not just for one person or one little organization… it has to be something that betters the entire community.”
However, one of the issues the CVCF currently faces is a lack of exposure and publicity. Not very many people know what role the foundation plays in the community and the number of applications each cycle has slowly waned as a result.
“It’s actually come to the point where we get very few applications because people really don’t know who we are,” Miller said.
In deciding to update its logo, the CVCF held a contest and offered $200 to the DTSS student who could design a winner, which was won by Christopher Hynes.
Currently, the CVCF has a reserve of about $800,000, which they also expect to double within the next year. The catch with those funds is that they sit in perpetuity, and cannot be spent. The funding for grants comes from the interest that money accrues, and also from a certain amount of flow-through dollars that are sometimes contributed from organizations like the CBT.
“I think of ourselves as a conduit, we take in money and then we push it out,” Miller said. “We’re trying to make it known that we’re giving away as much as we take.”
Applications are made twice yearly and, since 2001, the CVCF has given away over $250,000. However, the CVCF is more than prepared to handle more applications, as practically every applicant from the last cycle was successful in receiving funding. The CVCF is also looking to potentially fund some form of major project, as they feel such an action would raise their profile and in turn increase the number of applicants and donors.
“(Our goal) is to support the local community and make it a better place to live,” Miller said. “…to help those in need of assistance and better the lifestyle of the valley and the whole community.”
CVCF board members act on a completely volunteer basis and the current chairperson is longtime member Seona Helmer. For more information or for application forms, visit their website at www.valleyfoundation.ca.