Quebec is experiencing an acceleration of its private philanthropy

2023-05-13 08:02:14

This text is part of the special section Philanthropy

As boomers age, the capital available to support the community increases.

Alongside charities (which include community organizations) and public foundations, private foundations — whose assets can be donated by a business or a family — are growing in importance in the country. The organization Philanthropic Foundations Canada had 970 private foundations for 1083 public foundations in Quebec in September 2022. Across Canada, the number of private foundations has not stopped increasing since 2005, while that of public foundations has changed little.

The increase in fortunes

If Daniel Asselin is now the senior director of philanthropic development at the Fondation de l’Université de Sherbrooke, he has been navigating the charitable world for several decades and he knows the portrait of Quebec well. Thus, since the 2000s, he has observed an acceleration of the private philanthropic culture. “Individual donors and large families have grown rich over the past 25 years,” he says. This allowed them to, in a way, take over from corporate donations which, if they were exceptional during the pandemic, have rather plateaued for the past twenty years. The generosity expert even believes that the overall philanthropic base is in the process of “breaking the glass ceilings” in Quebec. “Some small organizations, which live off two or three events a year, certainly have difficulties, but the majority of large organizations are very active at the moment and are achieving their objectives,” he notes.

For Lili-Ana Pereša, President and CEO of the McConnell Foundation (716 million dollars in assets) and who has worked in the philanthropic community for more than 20 years, the significant growth of private foundations is also palpable. “There is clearly, at the moment, a transfer of wealth from one generation to the next,” she says.

As they pass from the first to the second or third generation, foundations are often taken over by people who are under 50 or even 40 years old. “They have a different philosophy of philanthropy, more focused on impact and much more open to environmental issues and issues of diversity and inclusion,” observes Karel Mayrand, President and CEO of the Foundation of Greater Montreal.

Éric St-Pierre, who has headed the Trottier Family Foundation since 2016 ($240 million in assets) created in 2000, can attest to this. “Our founder, Lorne Trottier, had a passion for science and education. But when the Foundation decided to involve the next generation (its children) in the years 2015, it changed the dynamic,” he says. Climate challenges then became one of the priorities of the family foundation, alongside health.

“Climate change is a major concern for new generations, but this issue receives only 2% of philanthropic money, according to the American group Climate Works,” points out Mr. St-Pierre. For him, the first priority is to make sure to keep a viable planet. “If we can’t fix this issue, we will have problems so much bigger than all the work we do to support young people with science and education. This will unfortunately be compromised, ”he underlines.

The Trottier Foundation has moreover just announced, within the framework of the second Montreal Climate Summit which took place earlier this week, that it will invest $10 million over five years to decarbonize hospitals and healthcare facilities and improve their resilience to climate change.

The planned giving boom

This special content was produced by the Special Publications team of the Duty, pertaining to marketing. The drafting of Duty did not take part.

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