Community foundation looks to boost profile in Wellesley

In the last eight years of operation the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF) has seen merely one request for assistance from a service group or organization in Wellesley Township.

Not a good record for an organization whose geographic area covers Kitchener, Waterloo, Woolwich, Wellesley and Wilmot.

“My belief is that purely and simply we’re not known. People don’t know that we’re here and we’re here to serve Wellesley,” said the organization’s CEO, Rosemary Smith, who addressed township council Tuesday night.

Her visit to Crosshill was prompted by a desire to raise the foundation’s profile, letting residents know it’s able to help local organizations in need of funding support.

“I’m really here to make you aware that we have a granting process that serves all.”

The KWCF is a “charity for charities.” It does not provide charitable services but instead helps other community organizations by providing them with funds for new programs, capital needs, student awards and more.

It provides them with ‘venture capital’ so that they may, in turn, establish new projects and programs and helps new organizations with their start-up costs. It does not, however, offer ongoing funding to cover operating costs of organizations from year to year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Wellesley chief administrative officer Susan Duke noted that the sparse requests from within the township were likely the result of past confusion about the KWCF’s range of coverage.

“I think you’re dead-on that it now needs to be promoted properly in the community;  there are so many organizations here that are in a fledgling state that could take advantage of what you have to offer,” Duke said.

She also lauded the organization for allowing the municipality to step in and ‘sponsor’ groups not registered as charities searching for funding. While the KWCF requires that an applicant must be a registered charity recognized by the Income Tax Act, it will consider applications by non-registered charitable groups if the township sponsors them and acts as a legal entity “that will take responsibility for ensuring that the money is spent in the way that the money said it would be spent,” Smith explained.

KWCF receives its funding primarily from individual donors. Some funding also comes from companies and some Trillium Foundation grants. It has supported 451 organizations and assists anyone from Catholic Family Counselling and KW Counselling to MT Space, a group that offers a program of plays and performances geared towards immigrants and newly arrived Canadians. Applications for funding are available at the KWCF website and a grants manager is available to help applicants see whether they qualify for funding before submitting their applications.

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