Reflections of the 2024 Endow Conference

By: Adu Richard and Dr. Gary McNeely
April 1, 2024

The 2024 Endow Manitoba Community Foundation Conference in Winnipeg marked a significant milestone, as it was the first organizational gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic. Attending this event was a remarkable experience that brought together a diverse group of individuals dedicated to advancing community well-being and sustainability across Manitoba. The community foundation members eagerly anticipated this event, and the turnout was beyond expectations. Over 40 of the 57 community foundation representatives joined the conference, making it the largest attendance in the conference’s history. The conference focused on learning, networking, and sharing best practices, offering a mix of plenary sessions, concurrent workshops, and networking opportunities designed to inspire and empower attendees.

Photo depicting (from left to right) Dr. Gary McNeely (PLAR Coordinator at RDI), Dr. Wayne Kelly (Director of RDI), and Adu Richard (Research Assistant at RDI).

Three colleagues from RDI attended the conference, this included Dr. Gary McNeely, Dr. Wayne Kelly and myself, Adu Richard. The conference commenced with inspiring plenary sessions that explored topics such as enhancing well-being through impactful stories, funding non-qualified donees, fostering relationships with Indigenous communities, and envisioning the future of philanthropy from a youth perspective. We also  had the chance to engage in 24 unique concurrent sessions covering various topics, including capacity building, fundraising strategies, community engagement, and innovative approaches to sustainable development. It was a rewarding experience, offering insights that not only benefited our project with ENDOW Manitoba but also sparked interest among other community foundation representatives. There were also fantastic networking opportunities, whereby attendees were able to connect with peers, experts, and leaders in the field of community foundations.

Dr. Gary McNeely joined a session on engaging with allied professionals, where Mary Beth Taylor prompted discussions about collaboration with professionals such as accountants, financial planners, and lawyers. The conference provided numerous chances for attendees to connect with peers, experts, and leaders in the field of community foundations. Networking sessions, social events, and interactive discussions facilitated meaningful exchanges and collaborations among participants.

Photo depicting (from left to right) Sky Bridges (President & CEO of Winnipeg Foundation), Dr. Gary McNeely (PLAR Coordinator at RDI) and Glen Simard (Minister of Brandon East).

There were many notable figures in attendance. This included Glen Simard (Member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly), Sky Bridges (President and CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation), Kris Archie (Chief Executive Officer of The Circle on Philanthropy, The Circle), Andrea Dicks (President of Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), and Alan Goddard (Vice President of Capacity Building and Programs at The Winnipeg Foundation). Each individual shared their insights and experiences, enriching the conference program.

Dr. Gary McNeely joined a session that explored the nuances of impactful grant-making. Emphasis was placed on maintaining objectivity to avoid biases that could undermine the credibility of our community foundations. Kris Archie (CEO of The Circle on Philanthropy) delivered a powerful session on Indigenous philanthropy and reconciliation, urging participants to reflect on the heritage and community as a step towards reconciliation.

The conference also focused on forging connections. The evening reception at the Manitoba Museum provided a relaxed atmosphere for networking and sharing experiences. Gary and Adu Richard had the pleasure of meeting esteemed figures like Glen Simard and Sky Bridges and exchanging insights and best practices.

Photo depicting (from left to right) Sky Bridges (President & CEO of Winnipeg Foundation), Adu Richard (Research Assistant at RDI).

The closing plenary left us with several thought-provoking ideas, emphasizing the importance of inclusion, community love, shared learning, innovation, and honoring Indigenous teachings in our work. Overall, the 2024 Endow Manitoba Community Foundation Conference was a resounding success, uniting passionate individuals committed to making a difference in their communities. The diverse program, engaging activities, and valuable insights shared during the conference undoubtedly inspired attendees to continue their efforts in supporting community well-being and sustainability across Manitoba. As we reflect on the enriching experiences and lessons learned at the conference, let us carry forward the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and generosity to create a brighter future for all Manitobans.

If you have any specific questions or would like to delve deeper into any aspect of the conference program, feel free to reach out for further discussion and exploration.

I am filled with gratitude for the enriching experiences and valuable lessons learned. The event underscored the vital role of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and relationship-building in advancing community well-being”- Adu Richard