CDCF’s perpetual harvest

The Cranbrook & District Community Foundation is building a community legacy for future generations

Lynnette Wray sits on the staircase inside the lovely new Ground Floor business complex on Seventh Avenue South in Cranbrook

Lynnette Wray is the executive director of the Cranbrook & District Community Foundation, newly relocated to the lovely new Ground Floor business complex on Seventh Avenue South in Cranbrook. — Marie Milner photo

“It has been my pleasure to bring new ideas and new energy to the organization,” said Lynnette Wray, who became the executive director of the Cranbrook & District Community Foundation (CDCF) in May 2017. “The foundation has quietly been doing good work for 15 years, and we’re now working to raise our profile.”

The CDCF is a place where every donated dollar does some good, forever. Even the smallest donation contributes to the community in perpetuity. The CDCF holds more than $2 million in 29 permanently invested endowment funds that cover a broad range of interests. Those include arts and culture, sports and recreation, health and community services. The CDCF also administers community funds in Sparwood and Fernie.

We asked Wray to explain a few things about the functioning of the CDCF.

What are some of the key things you’re accomplishing?

The foundation started in 2003, and our first granting year was 2004. Since then we’ve provided almost half a million dollars to eligible organizations in the community. We’re very proud of that number.

We’ve really worked hard to bring our message to the community. We provide a simple, long-term, sustainable approach to charitable giving. If I donate a dollar today, that dollar is going to be permanently invested, and every year the interest on that dollar is available to do good things in the community. It’s all about creating a community legacy.

Part of our work is to create revenue streams for non-profit agencies to help them diversify and assure their sustainability. It’s about keeping wealth working in our community to benefit our community forever.

The metaphor that we use is that we’re planting seeds to grow an orchard, and every year we pick the fruit. The orchard will always be there, and we hope to plant more trees and harvest more fruit every year. It’s special to know that your one-time contribution, even if it’s a small one, has an ongoing effect.

What is a community fund, like the ones you hold for Fernie and Sparwood?

It’s a different kind of endowment fund. Rather than each community having to pay out the various fees to set up its own community foundation, they become part of our foundation as a community fund.

It’s an efficient way to provide community foundation services under a larger umbrella, while avoiding duplication of administration costs. They can focus on fundraising and supporting their chosen recipient, and leave the paperwork to us. When it comes time to do the granting, they review the applications and make the decisions about the funding, and we write the cheques.

Tell us about choosing where to donate.

One option for giving is our general community endowment fund—if someone has a general interest that isn’t matched with an existing fund, the general fund is a good option. The general fund gives us the flexibility to respond to new and emerging needs.

If someone wants to contribute to a specific area where we don’t already have an endowment fund, we can work with them to set up a new fund. Otherwise, we have a list of specific areas where their support can go, and they can pick one or more.

If someone is having a birthday or anniversary and they don’t need more stuff, making a donation in their honour is a great way to celebrate them. It makes them part of the legacy in our community. An in-memoriam donation is a great way to remember your loved one and make them part of a permanent legacy.

What’s your focus for 2018?

We’re looking forward to celebrating our 15th anniversary and will likely do that as part of our AGM and awards-granting celebration in June. We hold an endowment fund for the Cranbrook History Centre, and they have offered to host our event at the Royal Alexandra Hall.

We’re happy to have moved into our new location in The Ground Floor on 7th Avenue South. We want to connect with the whole community, and the business community specifically. We want to raise our profile as an option for charitable giving. Just imagine the legacy we could build together for future generations.

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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