Founding a long term legacy for Ladysmith

Jan. 26 Nanaimo Foundation meeting to consider Ladysmith endowment



It’s difficult sometimes to think beyond immediate campaigns for funding to complete important community projects.

There is an opportunity, though, to provide for these and other projects in the longer term by establishing an endowment fund, whose principal would remain secure forever, but which would generate interest annually to be used for community grants – forever.

Sound like a dream? Think of it as a vision.

Before I came to Ladysmith, I lived for many years in Greater Victoria, where I was one of the founders of a not-for-profit community land trust. I learned very quickly how difficult and time-consuming it is to start such a community organization from scratch.

As we moved from one small success to another, I learned about the remarkable capacity of community foundations to assist small non-profits. I went on to work more closely with the Victoria Foundation, an experience that strengthened my faith in the role community foundations play in Canada.

The Nanaimo Foundation has approached the people of Ladysmith with a proposal to establish an endowment fund. How does this help our community? Obviously, once it is established, it provides an ongoing source of grant funding for Ladysmith community organizations. But equally importantly, it provides a place for people to leave a lasting legacy to the town that has been a part of their lives.

All the funds (less a very small management fee) directed to the Ladysmith endowment would be used to support Ladysmith projects. The door would also remain open for Ladysmith groups to apply to the Nanaimo Foundation’s other granting programs.

I wondered to myself: How does a community raise enough cash to get something like this started? Then I did a little mental arithmetic and calculated that if 1,000 Ladysmith citizens donated $100 to a new endowment, we would have $100,000 put aside – a very healthy beginning.

I was thinking that to do this, we would have to start from Square One, building a foundation from scratch. But working with the Nanaimo Foundation we could get off the ground very quickly, availing ourselves of an existing infrastructure to handle administrative details, while leveraging Ladysmith’s return by joining our investment with a larger pool.

This is one of those truly win-win situations, but it won’t happen on its own. If you have a vision for your community, and are prepared to work toward a long range strategy, give some thought to supporting an endowment fund for Ladysmith with the Nanaimo Foundation.

Mark your calendar for Jan. 26 at 7 p.m., when the Nanaimo Foundation will host the second community information meeting  at the Eagles Hall to discuss this important initiative for Ladysmith.

Bruce WhittingtonLadysmith, BC