The Community Foundation of Orillia and Area’s History

The Community Foundation of Orillia and Area is a locally run, public foundation that builds and manages permanent endowment funds from charitable donations. In other words, we accept contributions from donors, invest them for long term growth, and distribute the earnings each year to local charities based on their needs and the needs of the community.

We are one of over 180 local community foundations across Canada and serve the communities of Orillia, Ramara, Severn, Oro-Medonte, and the Chippewas of Rama First Nation.

The Birth of the Community Foundation of Orillia and Area

The Community Foundation of Orillia and Area was officially launched on January 7, 1999. The Foundation was literally “Born in a Basket.”

During a dinner meeting, local entrepreneur Jim Dykes commented on his newly acquired interest in community foundations. He continued on in some length until one of those present threw $20 into the breadbasket and said, “Here’s some money – just go start one.”

Some time later, Jim, along with Ken Koyama (Publisher of the Packet & Times) and Pat Campbell (Casino Rama), formed a Steering Committee, secured operating funding from the Casino, and hired the Foundation’s first Executive Director, Deborah Wagner.

The Foundation was officially launched on January 7, 1999 with a $200,000 gift from Casino Rama establishing the Foundation’s Community Unrestricted Fund. The Casino issued a challenge to the Foundation to match that amount by the end of the year and they would gift another $150,000.

The City of Orillia, Georgian College, local groups and organizations, and members of the general public all came to the table to ensure the challenge was met. At the completion of that deadline, the Foundation had more than $450,000 in endowed assets.

Quite an exciting start to the Foundation’s history!

The CFOA’s Unique Approach to Giving and Granting

Since 1999, we have been connecting donors to local charities that work to address our most pressing community needs. Our approach is unique in that:

  • We bring donors to the table as community builders
    We work with donors to realize their personal, financial and philanthropic goals by matching their interests and concerns with local charities addressing community needs.
  • We take a broad and inclusive view of what community is and what it needs to succeed
    Our grants support local charities providing everything from shelter, food and care for those most in need, to recreation, the arts, and the environment.
  • We make giving easy
    With our ability to accept almost any kind of gift (cash, securities, real estate, etc.) and our ability to satisfy almost any donor interest, we make it easy for donors to give to our community.