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Community Inspired for 75 Years and Counting

Since 1943, Vancouver Foundation has been a community inspired. This continues to be our approach to philanthropy today as a community foundation serving British Columbia.

Inspired by Alice’s generosity, lumberman and philanthropist Whitford VanDusen added $10,000 to her endowment and encouraged nine other prominent families to match his gift.

From that, Vancouver Foundation was born, and the original $101,000, plus contributions from donors like you, has enabled Vancouver Foundation to grant more than $1 billion to thousands of charities and projects to date.

Our Historical Timeline

Vancouver Foundation has played a part in supporting many of today’s notable charities, including the Girl Guides, YWCA, and Vancouver Art Gallery.

Some of our major milestones in our history have included:

  • 1943: Canadian lumberman Whitford VanDusen incorporates Vancouver Foundation with a $101,000 endowment.
  • 1950: The establishment of the Vancouver Foundation Act expands our mandate to allow our donors to direct gifts and bequests through us to any Canadian charity.
  • 1956: The Girl Guides of British Columbia create an endowment fund to support generations of educational activities for girls and young women. By this year, Vancouver Foundation had granted $100,000 to the community.
5 young women volunteers stand in front of a Red Cross van in a black and white photo.

The Red Cross opened a fund with Vancouver Foundation in 1948.

Large poster showing funds raised for a community chest appeal towers over a group of men and boys in a black and white photo.

Community chest appeals were popular in the earlier half of the 20th century.

  • 1963: Local charities come to Vancouver Foundation to establish funds, including Vancouver Symphony Society, YWCA, Boy Scouts, Vancouver Parks Foundation, and BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
  • 1972: As demand for funding grows, Vancouver Foundation forms advisory committees with experts from the community to advise on granting decisions.
  • 1981: Funding supports various emerging advocacy organizations, including Amnesty International, Vancouver Co-Op Radio, and the Alternatives to Racism Society.
  • 1990: Renovation of the Arts Club Waterfront through donors contributing $100,000 to help reclaim Granville Island’s Revue Theatre.
  • 1999: Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program launches to build community through small, grassroots initiatives such as block parties, cultural festivals, art installations, beekeeping groups and more. Today, NSG is active in 18 communities.
  • 2003: BC government partners with us to establish a $20 million fund to support organizations working to increase employment for people with disabilities.
  • 2011: We create the Fostering Change program, which advocates for foster youth transitioning out of care, and Fresh Voices which helps empower immigrant and refugee youth.
  • 2015: We celebrate a major milestone – Vancouver Foundation has granted more than $1 billion to charities since our founding.
  • 2018: We grant $2 million from our Community Impact Fund to support leading solutions to address BC’s opioid crisis, supplemented by another $1 million from a private donor. LEVEL launches as our new youth engagement initiative, replacing Fostering Change and Fresh Voices.
  • 2020: In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, we launched the Community Response Fund in a matter of days after the first restrictions were imposed. As Black Lives Matter surges into mainstream media again, we also make commitments to advancing racial justice in our work.
  • 2022: After advocacy efforts by Vancouver Foundation, the BC Government announced a $30 million commitment to the charitable sector in the form of the Recovery and Resiliency Fund. Vancouver Foundation continues to act on our commitment to racial justice, shifting and sharing power.
A child fills in a heart with paint. Text around the heart reads: Nurses are in our hearts.

The In Our Hearts campaign supported our Community Response Fund in pandemic relief for the charitable sector.