Community Foundation of the South Okanagan celebrates milestone

Community foundation has given $1 million to local charities

Ian Bird

Ian Bird

Most of us would be thrilled with the prospect of making $1 million over 20 years. However, last week one Penticton group celebrated the exact opposite of that — giving $1 million away.

On Friday afternoon, Poplar Grove Winery was host to a celebration of philanthropy and generosity. Former and current board members and donors were in attendance to celebrate their organization’s milestone: the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan granting out over $1 million.

While the foundation has given away $1 million, this money was based on returns on the foundation’s endowment fund, which is over $6 million. This year, the foundation is set to give away $192,000 in grants, and will be looking to do the same next year, even without any new donations, said Aaron McRann, executive director of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan.

“It’s really exciting for myself and for our board of directors to see that we’ve been able to grant a million dollars to local charities, but the original gift is still there,” said McRann. “If we were to close up shop today, and not have any kind of administration or marketing, we would still be able to grant a million dollars over the next five years.”

The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, established in 1991, is one more than 180 community foundations across Canada. These foundations, rather than supporting their own programs or fighting for funding from the government, take charitable gifts from the community, invest them into a legacy fund, and then grant the fund’s return out to where the money is needed within the community.

Friday’s celebration comes at a time where community foundations across Canada are being looked to by Canada’s Governor General to unite, and help make Canada an even better place to live, said Ian Bird, a guest speaker at the event. Bird is the president and CEO of the Community Foundations of Canada.

“The Governor General David Johnston has turned to us, and called on us to do something more,” Bird told the crowd on Friday night. “We are going to assist him in this vision he has of Canada 2017, a smart and caring nation, a place where we might imagine where all people’s talents and skills and contributions can come forth.”

This initiative, called smart and caring communities, has two goals, said Bird. The first is to have every community in Canada supported by a community foundation. The second is the development of smart and caring funds for every community foundation in Canada to have in common.

“The idea is that if we have 100 foundations that all have smart and caring funds that are all discretionary, and a national initiative comes forward that says, ‘We, as a country, need to kind of come together and do x,’ then the community foundations could pitch in our smart and caring funds to do this,” said McRann.

However, for now the foundation will be concentrating on reaching out to outlying communities, such as Cawston, Keremeos and Princeton, to help them establish their own funds within the foundation, he said. While these areas have received funding in the past from the foundation, a lack of donors makes long-term funding difficult.

Future plans aside, McRann added that without the community, the foundation wouldn’t exist.

“We just wanted to say thanks to the community, and the whole region obviously, for believing in the foundation and for supporting it with their gifts and volunteer work and so on,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work towards making the foundation more impactful in the future, so we’re just pushing forward.”

For more information on the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, visit


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Sanders was dressed for the cold weather in Penticton Friday, as he made time to check out one of the city’s iconic landmarks. (Parkers Chrysler / Facebook)
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders spotted in Penticton

Sanders seems to have developed a taste for local craft beer

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Send your letter to the editor via email to Please include your first and last name, address, and phone number. (File photo)
LETTER: ‘Park your anger at the door,’ when it comes to supportive housing

Stable housing is needed for all in the community, writes Western News reader

(Pixabay photo)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines of the week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Administrative headquarters for the Regional District of Central Okanagan in Kelowna. (File photo)
Tempers fly over a pricey picnic shelter in the North Westside

Lack of detail on $121,000 shelter expenditure further incites self-govenance wishes

Big White Village on Dec. 16. (Big White photo)
11 more COVID-19 cases linked to Big White cluster

Interior Health provided an update on the cluster on Friday

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Send your letter to the editor via email to Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Historic poem is appropriate for new U.S. president

In 1941, Roosevelt made reference to poem by Longfellow

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘It’s incredibly upsetting’: Kelowna health care worker demands WestJet ticket refund

Kelowna woman has been waiting almost a year for a refund on her Kelowna to Edmonton flight

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Most Read