The Burns Lake and District Community Foundation has been operating since 2006 and offered its first grant in 2008. It is an endowment fund the supports local education, arts, culture and community applications. It was established under the guidance of the Prince George Community Foundation.
Operating under the umbrella of the Prince George organization allows the local foundation to concentrate on raising both funds and the profile of the foundation. Not only does the Prince George foundation provide annual accounting, reporting and investment management, but by pooling their resources with the larger fund in Prince George the local foundation is able to get a better rate of return on its investment.
“Prince George graciously offered to assist us with the annual reporting and investment of funds,” said Bernice Magee, a director with the Burns Lake and District Community Foundation. “The rate of return has been around seven per cent, which is very good given the current economy.”
As an endowment, or legacy fund the foundation only disburses the interest earned on its previous years investments. The principal amount of the fund is never touched or diminished. Even the cost of managing the fund is taken from the interest earned.
“We initially started with $25,000 from the community forest and that was matched by the Vancouver Community Foundation,” said Magee, “and then the Northern Development Initiative kicked in another $25,000. That really got us going.”
Most recently the foundation received a $500,000 donation to the Dick Nourse legacy fund.
The Minerals North 2012 conference in Burns Lake this past summer was profitable and so the Burns Lake Community Foundation will receive over $8,000 directly. Bill Miller, director for electoral area B announced that, “The region will match up to $10,000 of the money coming from the minerals north event.”
Although these donations do not contribute to this year’s grants (the new money needs to first collect interest for a year), Magee is happy to report that, “We’ll have between four and five thousand dollars, plus another $1,500 from another fund, to disburse this year.”
“We’ll start taking applications for this money in February or March of 2013,” said Magee. “Last year we had 15 applicants and eight fell within the guidelines.”
Most received funding. “Even those that we didn’t give funding to last year,” said Miller, “we were able to direct to other [organizations] that where able to provide funding.”
Applications are available at the Village of Burns Lake office. “It’s not an intimidating process,” says Magee. “We are very relaxed about the whole thing. Other funds are intimidating in terms of the application process. This fund cuts through all of that, and you don’t need to have matching funds in order to get money from this fund. In fact, organizations can use donations from this fund to serve as [the basis] for matching funds for other grant applications.”
The best way for the community to support this fund, which exists exclusively to support local use, is to make a donation. There are a number of ways to donate, from simple tax-deductible donations to the general fund to more structured and specific ‘named funds’.
Named funds are separate funds within the foundation with specific parameters for their disbursement. “You could associate your fund with whatever you want, forestry, sports, and so on. For example, the Paul-Jean Scholarship is awarded every year to a high school student going into a forestry program.”
“Charity begins at home,” said Miller. “What you put into your community comes back to you and your kids, family and friends. This fund brings the community to the decision process.”
The community foundation is run by a nine member board of directors.
For more information stop in at the village office and pick up a brochure.