By Barbara McMillan
Community foundations understand the value that sport brings to communities, and why programs involving sports are worth supporting.
Whether the focus is on athletic performance or fostering healthy lifestyles, engaging volunteers or cultivating leadership, building confidence or building community, we know that a vibrant, accessible, and adequately funded community sport sector is an important ingredient of community vitality.
We also know that it can be a challenge for sport organizations to access the resources necessary to allow them to meet the demand for their programs, and increase their capacity, their impact or their reach. And for funders, there may be procedural, capacity or awareness barriers that might limit their ability to support sport organizations in the way they would like.
That’s why more than 60 representatives from sport organizations and community and other foundations, including Ian Bird, Community Foundations of Canada’s President and CEO, recently gathered for a day-long symposium at the UBC John MS Leckie Boathouse in Richmond to explore opportunities to work together to enhance sports philanthropy.
We heard many stories of how community foundations are supporting sport through grants, agency endowments, legacy funds, and infrastructure projects. And we heard about the power of sport to change lives, improve health outcomes, and strengthen community. But we also learned about the regulatory, resource, and turf barriers that can limit capacity and impact.
Initial feedback about the meeting has been overwhelmingly positive. Sport groups and community foundations appreciated the opportunity to learn more about each other and to start a conversation about how we can more intentionally and strategically connect our sport and our philanthropy organizations and networks.
One of the immediate outcomes is that the sport organizations that participated now see community foundations as partners rather than funders.
We’re now pulling together the notes from the meeting, and will be considering how – with some of the many ideas generated and relationships initiated – we will foster a sport and community philanthropy strategy.
As one participant noted: “There is so much value in this discussion, and sharing information may result in movement toward collaboration – let’s keep the discussion going and expand it.”
Stay tuned …
Barbara McMillan is Community Foundations of Canada’s Director of Regional Strategies