June 15th, 2023

Cumberland Foundations Circle brings charitable sector together

On a Tuesday afternoon in June, donors, executives, board members, and experts from the charitable sector came together to make connections and share their experiences at the inaugural Cumberland Foundations Circle event.

At Cumberland, we’ve been involved in helping foundations and endowments manage their investment assets for many years. However, one comment that frequently arises is that there is a need for greater peer support for and information exchange within those in the nonprofit space. We created the Cumberland Foundations Circle as a way to encourage more community, collaboration and support that brings real value.

Great speakers and friendly networking

Around two dozen invitees gathered at noon for a light lunch before our President and CEO, Charlie Sims, took the podium to officially kick things off. Charlie’s remarks addressed the value that philanthropy creates for society, some of the key challenges facing the sector, and the impact of these challenges on the investment decisions facing boards and investment committees today.

Charlie then introduced Brad Offman, founder of Spire Philanthropy, who took a deep dive into the current trends shaping the landscape for Canadian foundations. Brad provided insight on issues such as the higher disbursements quota, changes to donees, evolving donor sources and attitudes, increasing scrutiny around how charities are being evaluated, and new offerings coming to market for those who wish to become donors.

Next to present was John Poulter, CFA, Portfolio Manager at Cumberland Investment Counsel and founding partner at Cumberland Partners Ltd.. John presented proprietary research on how foundations and endowments can expect to achieve the recently increased 5%+ minimum annual disbursement while remaining conservative in their investment policies and still continuing to grow their assets. His findings provide some focus and new direction to charities who may be grappling with this issue.

Finally, Charlie sat down with Bruce Lawson, currently Special Advisor to The Counselling Foundation of Canada and formerly its long time President, for a fireside chat on how focus and collaboration create value in the philanthropic sector. During this candid discussion and subsequent Q&A, Bruce shared a multitude of insights and personal experiences that he has gained as a member of a prominent philanthropic family and a true innovator in the not-for-profit space. He reviewed a few of the ways in which the Foundation has made strong impact including recent funding projects to indigenous communities in Canada.

After the speakers wrapped up, the event continued onto our third floor patio overlooking Yorkville Ave. Most of the attendees stayed to enjoy a cool drink, continue the conversation, and make what we hope will be lasting connections with one another.

Join us next time

If you are involved in the stewardship of charitable assets, whether as part of a public-facing organization or a private foundation, the Cumberland Foundations Circle is a place where you can connect with like-minded individuals.

If you would like to learn more, or join the guest list for a future event, please send us a line here.