Community Wealth Transfer



Wealth transfer from generation to generation always occurs, as people pass away and leave their estate to their children. But if the heirs leave the communities where they grew up, the wealth leaves as well. In Canada, over the past three decades, wealth is being redirected from rural communities to urban areas. Keeping part of this wealth in rural counties is critical to maintain the vitality of the communities. Canadians have the opportunity to give back to their communities by making donations to local charities and philanthropic organizations and many do. Charitable non-profit organizations, known as Community Foundations, play a key role in rural community development because they work together with donors, matching their interests and local needs. 


Rural Canada is facing challenges such as aging population and migration from rural areas to cities. When people move to the cities, they take part of the community wealth with them. 

People from rural areas might be willing to leave part of their wealth in the communities where they grew up but often they don’t plan for it  and/or the options for local charitable institutions are limited if there is no hospital foundation or United Way type organization with a focus on that specific place.  

Philanthropic organizations (such as community foundations) can work with donors to keep their philanthropy local, matching donors’ interests with community priorities. Gifts are stewarded by a local board of volunteers, who prioritize how to distribute donations and/or income generated.

Community foundations support a wide variety of local initiatives that contribute to maintaining vitality of the community, for example arts and culture, education, environment, health and social services.

Rural Community Foundations in numbers

43% of community foundations in Canada are located in rural communities.

Over 280 million dollars invested by rural community foundations (Community Foundations of Canada 2016).

In 1974 the first rural community foundation was established in Canada.

The majority of rural community foundations have less than 3 million dollars in total assets. 

There are 14 rural community foundations in Ontario.



Building a better Brown County. Residents focused on enhancing quality of life
By Mike Buhler, Oct 25, 2017
Brown County in rural Nebraska experienced a population decline and has struggled to attract new residents and maintain current ones. The Brown County Community Foundation Fund has been an agent of change awarding grants for community building renovations and other projects.

Day family hopes Connie Fund inspires “culture of giving” 
By Kathryn Harris, Sep 27, 2017
The Connie Fund, the endowment Connie Day established before her death, has the purpose of benefit children in Northeast Nebraska. The Connie Fund invests in programs that educate, enrich, inspire and protect children in the area.

Funds Created as Lasting Tributes
By Stuart Reid, Sept 7, 2017
Many of the funds of the Community Foundation Gray Bruce are named for important people in the community whose legacy is carried on by the good work that their funds do year after year. 

CWCF grants $5000 at The Grand 101 Gala to help provide local emergency messaging
Feb 13, 2016
The Centre Wellington Community Foundation (CWCF) supported the purchase of special technology that provides 24-hour emergency messaging to Centre Wellington. A local not-for-profit radio station, in partnership with the Township of Centre Wellington, is leading this worthy community initiative.


  • What is a Community Foundation?
    Learn in less than 2 minutes what a Community Foundation is and how it works.
  • Community Wealth Transfer: Responding to the Challenges of Aging Demographics in Rural Communities.
    Interview with Ryan Gibson. The University of Guelph professor explains the potential of community wealth transfer to support rural communities and how community foundations facilitate this process.
  • Dreams at Work. Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF)
    Rural Nebraska citizens share how the NCF has helped them to plan for the future, connect with other rural communities and improve their hometowns. 
  • Campbellford/Seymour Community Foundation (CSCF). Focus on Youth 
    CSCF executives and project participants talk about the initiatives to promote youth leadership and participation in the development of the Campbellford/ Seymour County.

For more information, please contact:

Cindy Lindsay
Community Foundations of Canada, 
613-236-2664 ext. 301

Greta Leach
Nebraska Community Foundation

Ryan Gibson
University of Guelph
519-824-8140 ext 56785

Stuart Reid
Community Foundation Grey Bruce

Martha Murphy
Campbellford/ Seymour Community Foundation

Does your community/organization have a successful experience related to wealth transfer and community foundations? Please share it with us.

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