Winnipeg Foundation receives ‘transformational’ $500 million endowment gift
The Winnipeg Foundation says it has received the largest single donation ever made to a Canadian charity by an individual – a $500 million bequest by a local business owner who died earlier this year.
« This legacy will positively impact the community for generations to come, » the foundation said on Twitter, calling it a « transformational gift. »
The money was left to the foundation, which distributes grants to charities in Winnipeg, in the will of Miriam Bergen, who died in January.
The announcement was made during Giving Tuesday, an annual campaign designed to celebrate acts of charity.
Billed as a « global movement of giving, unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world », Giving Tuesday follows the busiest shopping weekend of the year, marked by Black Friday and the Cyber Monday.
Bergen, described as a « quiet philanthropist » by the foundation, was the owner and chairman of Appleton Holdings, a private company that does business as Edison Properties.
“We are honored and humbled by the trust she has placed in us and for her love of our community,” Board Chairman Tom Bryk said at a press conference announcing the donation. It will provide significant resources to the community each year, he said.
Appleton Holdings was founded as Marlborough Developments by Bergen’s parents, Martin and Ruth Bergen. Appleton owns and operates residential and commercial buildings in Winnipeg under the Edison Properties brand, many of which are in the North Kildonan neighborhood.
These properties will now support the work of the Winnipeg Foundation, as Bergen’s donation includes shares of Appleton.
The foundation is Canada’s oldest community foundation, established in 1921 by William Forbes Alloway and his wife, Elizabeth Alloway.
In 2021, it distributed $84.9 million to approximately 1,100 charities in the city. Over the past 100 years, the foundation has granted more than $780 million.