By Gary Dyck
Image Caption: Your endowment gift is never spent, but carefully invested. As the income builds we only distribute part of the interest created by the fund.
Christmas is about celebrating a Gift that keeps giving, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about how we can all give gifts that keep giving. I first heard the word ‘endowment’ as a young college student. At the time, I thought it was something for very wealthy people to establish and contribute to. Like scholarships known by the name of a single benefactor or Harvard’s 40-billion-dollar endowment started by wealthy people over a century ago (which makes Harvard one of the wealthiest entities in the world). However, as the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) it has been my privilege to see another side.
Over the past years, a permanent charitable fund at MHV was established by numerous donors. As the ancient Chinese proverb goes, “Dripping water can eat through a stone.” The power of an endowment is in its continuous dripping. Recently the Government of Manitoba established the Manitoba Heritage Trust Program (MHTP) which “aims to attract public and private funding and provide long-term sustainable revenue for community projects and organizations.” They are attracting a lot of attention, by providing matching dollars 2:1. So until March 31st, for every two dollars put into MHV’s Heritage Endowment fund, they will provide an additional dollar!
These gifts invested over time will make extra annual funds available for MHV use. The gift as principal value is preserved in perpetuity, with the funds pooled for maximum benefit and invested to achieve long-term capital growth. The Winnipeg Foundation has an excellent track record of producing 5% rates of income, even in hard times like 2020. In thirty years, the cumulative benefits of these rates can equal or surpass the base fund itself!
In 2013, Winnipeg’s Dalnavert museum closed their doors because of lack of funding. The closure of the Victorian mansion in downtown Winnipeg spurred a group of dedicated and passionate individuals to come together. In 2015, they reopened the museum with an endowment that now pays for all staff wages and many of their operational expenses. With their help and the endowment, the future of Dalnavert is secure.
The Manitoba Heritage Trust Program is available until March 31st, 2021. Donors like you can now gift directly to our endowment fund on our website (mhv.ca) or with an endowment designated cheque sent to MHV and the government will match it 2:1. Your gift will be locked in as principal and with each passing year the goal is to keep some of the dividends back to slowly grow the fund balance, while also providing an annual increase in income for MHV use.
In 30 years, endowment donations can provide the equivalent of their original contribution as direct income for MHV annual use! Thirty years, the passing of one generation’s time to another, to provide a perpetual source of charitable community capital that can serve generations to come! After all, that is what the mission MHV is about, ‘to preserve and exhibit, for present and future generations, the experience and story of the Russian Mennonites and their contributions to Manitoba.’ Thank you for your contribution! May 2021 be a good year for all of us.
Happy New Year!