Victoria Foundation celebrates 75 years

A $20 donation during the Depression era kicked off a long history of giving for the Victoria Foundation.

Fannie Gadsen chipped in the $20 in 1936 to help launch the Victoria Foundation. Other donors followed suit and in 1969, the foundation awarded its first grants, to the Boys’ Club of Victoria, the Victoria Association of Community Living and the Maritime Museum of B.C. 

“We try to make sure we remember those humble beginnings,” said Sandy Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation.

This year marks the foundation’s 75th anniversary.

In that history, the development of the Vital Signs report is one of the foundation’s greatest achievements, Richardson said.

“It changes the community in a totally different way,” she said. “We see it with the programs that have developed since then. We’re funding seven different schools every year and they use Vital Signs to decide where to use their grants.”

In the past decade alone, the foundation’s endowment funds ballooned from $20 million to $180 million. That money is granted to hundreds of non-profits in Greater Victoria every year.

The secret to the foundation’s staying power is in the dedication demonstrated by its board of directors and the foundation’s volunteers that share their expertise with non-profits.

“It’s being out there in the community and being a good listener,” Richardson said.

To help celebrate, the foundation is hosting a series of events.

The foundation is looking to put together a 75-person team to run the TC 10K on May 1. The deadline to apply is April 27.

Its Youth in Philanthropy program’s wrap-up event on May 31 looks back at how members and grantees of the program have given back to their community.

And on June 11, comedian Rick Mercer comes to town with Tim Brodhead, CEO of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation for a gala evening at the Victoria Conference Centre. Tickets are $200, available at or by calling 250.381-5532.

For more information about the 75th anniversary, go to


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