The vital signs of prosperity: Conversation with Victoria Foundation’s Sandra Richardson

Sandra Richardson is the CEO of the Victoria Foundation, the oldest organization of its kind in our region. The Foundation’s mission is to connect people who care with causes that matter, putting it at the epicentre of our region’s evolving relationship with non-profits.

Making our region affordable for everyone is a key Victoria Foundation priority. This helps explain why the Foundation was among the earliest partners of the South Island Prosperity Project. Affordability is the Prosperity Project’s mandate as well.

In this interview with Richardson, we explore the nature of non-profits and foundations in our region, why the Victoria Foundation counts the Prosperity Project among its key collaborators, and what lies ahead in the regional non-profit world.

Prominent points

The Victoria Foundation, established in 1936, is the oldest institution of its kind in our region. It’s mission is to connect people who care with causes that matter.

It’s unique position gives it a birds-eye view of non-profits, and how for-profit companies interact with them. One trend worth noting: for-profits are taking a more active role in their philanthropy, sometimes sidelining the non-profits in the process. Add in increased competition on the non-profit side, and you see a very dynamic situation unfolding.

The spirit of philanthropy is alive and well in today’s generation. But where in the past, donors were concerned with leaving a legacy, today’s philanthropists are more concerned with seeing immediate action.

The Victoria Foundation believes collaboration leads to better non-profit activity and community action. For that reason, a partnership with South Island Prosperity Project was logical – the Prosperity Project has collaboration at its core.

An area of focus for both the Victoria Foundation and the Prosperity Project is economic growth that leads to greater regional wealth and stability.

Vital Signs, the Foundation’s ‘scorecard’, is a valuable resource (prized by, among others the Lieutenant Governor) that helps both for-profits and non-profits assess which areas of our community and economy need attention.

Richardson’s assessment of our current economy? We’re overly dependent on a couple of different sectors, and need to diversify our economy to build more even prosperity.

There is no quick fix to creating a living wage and lifting our citizens out of poverty. It’s a job that demands ongoing conversation and attention.

Another benefit of Vital Signs? It provides a terrific overview of our community for businesses considering moving here. It answers the key questions – how does our region rate as a place to live, to work, and to grow in?

Quotable quotes

“Today’s generation is just as, or more generous, than any other. But where previous generations were looking to create legacies, today’s philanthropists are looking for action and results.”

“Creating prosperity for all is core to our mission. That’s the reason the Victoria Foundation works with the South Island Prosperity Project.”

“There are so many costs, so many barriers to lifting people out of poverty on our current minimum wage. This isn’t a problem that can be solved immediately – it will take ongoing attention and conversations.”

“Today, we’re overly dependent on a couple of sectors. I believe we need to diversify our economy, so that prosperity can be more across the board, and lift more people out of poverty.”

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