During late 2000 and early 2001, a diverse group of Bowen Islanders — legal and financial professionals, community based educators, business owners and artists — came together to explore strategies for establishing a local philanthropic foundation. Members of that original group were Hans Behm, Ross Carter, Bruce Greyell, Jane Kellett, Dean Maidment and Ted Spear.
The group discussed the financial needs of the many volunteer organizations operating on the Island, how to build synergy and capacity within the community and within those volunteer organizations – and, ultimately, how to best encourage volunteers and island residents to “Give Back to the Community” through financial donations.
After much thought and after hearing from a representative of the Community Foundations of Canada, the group concluded the time was right to establish the Bowen Island Community Foundation. The Community Foundation was incorporated under the Society Act of British Columbia on June 6, 2001 (Charter No. S-43261) and qualified as a registered charity with Revenue Canada, effective December 3, 2002.
The Foundation’s Board had concluded that a strategic alliance with the Vancouver Foundation was critical to the ultimate success of the Bowen initiative. At the time the Vancouver Foundation managed more than $500 million in endowment funds, offered a range of logistic and financial supports to community foundations and had a name recognition and reputation for “giving back” that closely matched the objectives of Bowen Island’s original board. Now, the funds managed by the Vancouver Foundation have surpassed the $1 billion mark.
The Bowen Community Foundation also became a member of Community Foundations of Canada, an organization of more than 200 community foundations across Canada, groups from whom we continue to receive valuable support today. In 2002, with a $10,000 grant from Bowen’s Municipal Council, the Foundation became a member of the Vancouver Foundation and became entitled, as a consequence, to the following grants available to start-up foundations:
- Annual LEAD grants in the amount of $5000, for each of five years, to be used to grant back to qualified charitable organizations on Bowen Island.
- A matching grant program — the Vancouver Foundation matched funds raised by the Bowen Foundation to a maximum of $50,000 in each of 2005 and 2006. By the close of 2006 the Bowen Community Foundation had increased its General Community Endowment Fund by $100,000, thanks to qualifying for this grant program.
One of the principal purposes of the Foundation is to raise endowment or permanent funds, the interest from which can be given back to the community on an annual basis. Funds can be part of a general endowment for the community or directed to a specific purpose (for example, a project related to the arts, education or recreation). Funds can also be named for the purpose or the person, or for the family creating the fund.
Today the Bowen Island Community Foundation administers a range of these endowment Funds. A few examples:
- Bowen Island Community Impact Fund
- Bowen Island Golf Club Junior Scholarship Fund
- Bowen Island Arts Council Community Hall and Arts Centre Operating Expense Fund
- Maggie Cumming Community Legacy Fund
- Aaron Sluggett Memorial Scholarship Fund
- Margaret Witty Bursary Fund
It is also possible to create “flow through funds,” donations which are not endowments, but flow directly to a receiving individual or group, in order to meet a specific purpose.
The Board’s two most compelling mandates today remain those that first came to the fore back in 2002: building the funds we hold in endowments and enhancing community capacity by working with community organizations and individual islanders.