It took just 40 minutes on Friday night for Rapid Relief Fund donors to match the $100,000 offered by a group of 20 individuals and couples.
That meant that the fund grew by $200,000, or $5,000 a minute, during that 40 minutes.
The announcement of the $100,000 match was made at the start of CHEK TV’s Rock for Relief: A Living Room Concert for Vancouver Island.
CHEK’s special show was a fundraiser to support Vancouver Islanders affected by the COVID-19 pandemic via the Rapid Relief Fund, which supports Greater Victoria and the Cowichan Valley, and the Community Response Fund, which assists communities north of the Cowichan Valley.
The group making the offer is part of the Gadsden Initiative, a program launched last fall by the Victoria Foundation to encourage philanthropy.
Each member of the group contributes $5,000 over two years that is matched by the initiative, to create a permanent endowment fund for a philanthropic cause. The plan is for members of the initiative to change every two years.
Inspired by Burges Gadsden, whose vision led to the creation of the Victoria Foundation in 1936, the initiative seeks to reach a new generation, including Gen X’ers and Millennials.
“This group of people aren’t a bunch of the super-wealthy,” said Rob Janus, director of communications with the Victoria Foundation. “They are a younger demographic of individuals and couples representing a cross-section of the population coming together to learn about and help their community.”
The group used $100,000 in discretionary funds held by the Victoria Foundation to set up their challenge grant.
Stewart Story, a fifth-generation Victorian and owner of Story Construction, said he and his wife, Jenny Chapman, joined the Gadsden Initiative as a way to show their kids how to give back to the community.
“There is power in coming together with like-minded people to do our part.”
He said the initiative, which includes learning activities such as site tours of non-profit agencies, a speaker series and classes every two months, has given them a better understanding of the variety of needs in the community.
“We are able to do a deep dive on the issues, get in on the ground and hear from people on the front line.”
The money the group has pledged to the Rapid Relief Fund, a partnership between the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl family and the Times Colonist, will be put to work quickly.
“While we are doing our due diligence, we are also distributing the money we have collected as fast as it is coming in,” said Janus, noting the fund has given $2.4 million to 34 non-profit organizations in less than a month. “Early next week, we will be announcing another $1 million to dozens more.”
The bulk of the $4.8 million raised as of late Friday night has come from more than 10,000 individual contributions, he said.
“We have been basically blown away by the response,” said Janus. “It’s incredible how people have really rallied around the cause. Small to large, every donation is equally important. We’re all in this together.”
Every single dollar received goes to those who need it, Janus said. “There is an ongoing need. People are still suffering and feeling the effects of the outbreak. For others, the ramifications are just sinking in, with rent and exhausted finances. We will continue to assess our priorities and support those in need.”
> To donate to Greater Victoria and Cowichan Valley’s Rapid Relief Fund, go to rapidrelieffund.ca.
> To donate to Nanaimo and Up-Island’s Community Response Fund, go to islandresponsefund.ca.
Rapid Relief Fund
Tax receipts will be issued. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.
• Online: RapidReliefFund.ca
• Phone: 250-381-5532
• Mail: Send cheques (made out to the Victoria Foundation) to RapidRelief Fund, Victoria Foundation,
200-703 Broughton St., Victoria V8W 1E2
The Rapid Relief Fund was created by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation, and the Times Colonist to help people in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHEK Television, Coast Outdoor Advertising and Black Press are helping to boost awareness. Every dollar received from donations goes out as grants to the community.
Donations are being distributed through the Victoria Foundation.