The prospect of having someone else match or stretch one’s own donation to a worthy cause is attractive to many people. In 2014 a friend of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) offered to match all new donations earmarked for a specific project, up to a maximum of $100,000. By the end of that year, funds had been raised to that amount, so our friend issued a matching cheque, and MHV was doubly blessed.
We have a similar yet very different opportunity available to us now. On April 1, 2018, the Manitoba Government initiated the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program where new private donations to the endowment fund of a museum or an archives will be matched at a rate of 50 cents per dollar. The Province has made $5,000,000 available for this for a three-year period beginning April 1.
An endowment fund is a pool of money invested for the specific purpose of generating ongoing revenue for an organization. In other words, the fund itself is not available for use, but the investment earnings from it are usable and will continue to be in perpetuity. For example, twenty years ago, friends of former federal cabinet minister Izzy Asper rallied to establish such an endowment fund. They collected $265,000 to be invested. In the succeeding 20 years, the earnings from this fund have provided gifts to its beneficiaries of $270,000, and the fund has a current value of $315,000. In addition to contributing more than its original value, the fund itself has grown.
For the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program, the Winnipeg Foundation will be managing all dollars raised during these next three years. After that, the funds for each participating organization will be transferred to local community foundations, in our case the Steinbach Community Foundation Inc.
MHV currently owns a small endowment fund, managed by Abundance Canada, which is worth just under $100,000. The income it generates is used to assist with the operation of our museum. Many universities have substantial endowment funds, some of which are clearly earmarked for scholarships or bursaries.
This Manitoba Government initiative is a new opportunity for MHV and for our constituency. Between now and March 31, 2021, every dollar donated to our MHV Endowment Fund, to an accumulated maximum of $50,000, will be stretched by an additional 50 cents by the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program. The limit of $50,000 has the potential to expand at the end of the three-year period, depending on how successful the other museums and archives have been in their fundraising.
We are delighted about this opportunity and hope that many of our constituents will find it compelling as well. At the same time, we hope that donations made to the MHV Endowment Fund will not “cannibalize” donations that would otherwise be going into our annual operating fund. It is essential that we maintain a sufficient revenue stream to fund the daily operations of MHV.
Donations to the MHV Endowment Fund can be made in person, by mail, or through the Canada Helps facility on our website at www.mhv.ca. Securities donations are also welcome and would be processed by the Winnipeg Foundation.
While the static nature and the relatively conservative investment strategy of an endowment fund may seem less than appealing to some donors, we need to remember that this fund will continue serving our organization for the future life of MHV.
Calendar of Events
April 26 – 7:00PM, Volunteer Orientation
May 1 - Opening day for the Livery Barn Restaurant and the Outdoor Village
May 6 – 2:30PM, MHV Auxiliary Faspa (Mennonite Floor Patterns - Margruite Krahn)
May 12 – 9:00AM–5:00PM, Manitoba Day
May 13 – 11:30AM–2:30PM, Mother’s Day Lunch Buffet