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Vital People: Gadsden Initiative seeks to grow a new generation of givers

The Victoria Foundation is laying the groundwork for an emerging new generation of philanthropists — those between 25 and 50 years old — through the Gadsden Initiative.
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Siblings Trevor McCall and Stacy Lund were part of the first group of young philanthropists that took part in the Victoria Foundation’s Gadsden Initiative. VICTORIA FOUNDATION

The Victoria Foundation is laying the groundwork for an emerging new generation of philanthropists — those between 25 and 50 years old — through the Gadsden Initiative.

The initiative was inspired by Burges Gadsden, whose vision led to the founding of the Victoria Foundation in 1936.

It is part of the Victoria Foundation’s commitment to work toward implementing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

“The Gadsden Initiative is aimed at a younger demographic who are charitable but doing it on an ad-hoc basis,” said Kate Donahue, philanthropic services specialist with the foundation. “We teach them about the community, help them define their core values so that they can be more strategic in their giving.”

The goal is to engage a new generation who wish to make a lasting difference in the community by establishing a permanent endowment fund to build a better world.

Participation is limited to 30 individuals, couples or families. There are four core classes, with optional events such as learning workshops and networking opportunities with peers. Other activities are tailored for children or family participation.

Every participant is expected to contribute $5,000 toward the creation of an endowment fund, which is named by the participant. Family and friends can also contribute to the fund, which is eligible for tax receipts.

The Victoria Foundation will make a matching donation.

Participants can use a portion of the annual investment returns from the $10,000 fund to give out as grants to causes or charities of their choice.

For Carly Milloy, who was already giving to a number of charities, the initiative was an opportunity to learn about others in her area of interest.

What attracted her to the initiative was the network building — professional and personal — when interacting with others in her cohort and the staff at some of the charities she toured.

“Our community is built on relationships,” said Milloy, director of advancement and external relations at Pearson College.

The other appeal was that the legacy fund could be passed on to her children so that they could continue to help even when she is gone.

“While our two children are still young — they are five and seven — I imagine that we will be having conversations about giving back to the community before long,” she said.

Siblings Stacy Lund and Trevor McCall were part of the initial focus group that helped the Victoria Foundation fine-tune the initiative.

They were so impressed with what they heard the program offered that they joined the first cohort, which began in late 2019.

“The initiative opened our eyes to the services available in Victoria,” said Lund, business development manager at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.

Her legacy fund will centre around the importance of sports for children and providing quality physical literacy for youth.

Her brother’s charity of choice is the Victoria Hospice.

“I have tremendous respect for the work they do,” said McCall, president of McCall Gardens. “This will be our legacy and where we can direct our funds to where they can be the most impactful.”

Both expressed that it was also a way for them to teach philanthropy to their children.

“It’s a pathway for them to follow,” McCall said.

The program is still accepting applications to be part of the next cohort, which runs from September 2021 to September 2022. For more information, go to victoriafoundation.bc.ca/gadsden-initiative.

parrais@timescolonist.com