Building special relationships: the Cortes Foundation

In addition to being given charitable status, the Cortes Island Community Foundation developed some important relationships. 

“We recently were just accepted as a member into the Community Foundations of Canada and that’s also like a really big step for us,” explained Vice President/Treasurer Mark Spevakow. 

Screenshot of Mark Spevakow taken during interview

This is the governing body for about 200 community foundations, which range from small island organizations like Galiano and Salt Spring to the much larger Victoria, Winnipeg and Vancouver Foundations.

“If we’re running into a problem, there’s a good chance that somebody involved with another community foundation has already crossed that ground,” said Spevakow.

One of their new associates is the 25-year-old Campbell River Community Foundation

“So there might be something  geographically that allows us to contact them and say, ‘Hey, have you come across something like this?’”

The Foundation is also working with Cortes island’s 20 plus grassroots organizations, nonprofits, and charities. 

Manda Aufochs Gillespie was hired, as part time staff, to help set up a social profit network.

The Foundation purchased a community grants database, to help organizations identify the specific grants they should apply for. 

“I think we worked together with about a dozen organizations and, based upon that initial push, my understanding is that leveraged to more than $100,000 of additional grants and money coming into the community for community projects,” said Spevakow.

The Foundation and Cortes Community Health Association partnered to raise $30,000 for a micro temporary workspace known as ‘the pod.’

“People can go there and they’ve got internet access and an office that they could work out of,” explained Spevakow.

The Foundation, Cortes Literacy and the Community Health Association partnered to deliver almost $20,000 in small, actionable micro grants to 30 different projects on Cortes. These include Klahoose cultural language programs, women’s aging support group, youth programs, equipment and a lot more.

Up until now, all of the Foundation’s funding came from the Directors. 

They have just made another big step: “We have just received our very first donation that came from outside of one of the directors.”

Spevakow added, “The thing I wanted to touch on, which is also really important for our foundation, is that we have set up our first permanent ‘forever money’ fund.”

This is the core funding that will not be spent. It is the principal that will  serve as a guarantee that there is money to be dispersed for the community’s needs every year. The board spent quite a bit of time vetting where this money should be invested. 

“Luckily, a few years back, the Vancouver Foundation started a separate fund called their socially responsible investment fund. It places funds into investments with strict environmental, social and corporate governance,” said Spevakow. 

He believes the return was greater than 10% this year. That 10% is the money that would be used for community disbursements.

Top photo credit: Circles map – Courtesy Report from Cortes Island’s 1st Social Profit Forum, Sat, Sept 28, 2019

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