Creating Legacies

Airdrie now has its own Community Foundation

As Airdrie continues to grow and becomes increasingly diverse, the city’s non-profit needs are also increasing. After years of planning and preparation, the city’s own charitable foundation will soon hand out its first funds.

The Airdrie & District Community Foundation was officially established in September 2012, but it has taken a few years for it to get up to speed, says chair Derek Lalonde.

“It has had fits and spurts and it took a bit to get going in terms of bylaws and getting charitable status … and then getting a really solid board of directors eager enough to get it going,” says Lalonde, adding organizers met with established groups such as the Calgary Foundation and foundations in Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Banff as they researched how best to get the Airdrie version going.

“The foundation is a place for donors to be able to [contribute] money through their estate, or donate investments like securities or land or buildings, and get a tremendous tax benefit,” Lalonde explains. “And it is important for [the donors] to know that the Community Foundation will always know what the pulse of the community is. On the flipside of the coin, we will be working with charities in the community, [keeping track] of what their needs are.”

The Foundation’s volunteer directors include people involved in local business, civic government and service groups. “Donors get the immediate benefit, knowing that their money will continue to be given back to the community on an annualized basis where needed,” says Lalonde.

One early supporter was Dick Buchanan, who owned Air-Alta Insurance for 35 years and helped establish the foundation. After his death in early 2015, he left a bequest to the Foundation that created the Dick Buchanan Legacy Fund in his memory.

Buchanan inspired director Cindy Savitsky’s interest in the Foundation; she is with the Airdrie Lioness Club. “One of the things that really drew me into this was when I spoke to Dick Buchanan [about] the fact there were residents of Airdrie that wanted to do something with their money when they passed away,” Savitsky says. “They gave the Calgary Foundation $11 million … you and I can both see where that money could have been spent if it remained in Airdrie. There was a lot of potential we were missing out on as a community and district.”

Lalonde says 2016 marks the start of the Airdrie & District Community Foundation officially starting to accept donations, adding that the organization is taking advantage of the Calgary Foundation’s long experience by recruiting it as the investment arm. “They do very well with people’s investments and they charge a low fee, so we get to leverage their expertise and their support,” Lalonde says, adding that funds donated locally will stay in the communities served by the organization (which includes neighbouring towns like Crossfield, Carstairs and Irricana).

Another director, Reg Hihn, who spent 30 years running the local Super Drug Mart, says the creation of a foundation was a must as Airdrie matures.

As the city grows, we need more of a central organization that is available for people that want to give back to the community as a legacy,” he says. “We’ve had a couple of inquires already asking if funding is available … hopefully, within the next few months, we’ll get our first funds out there. They probably won’t be large donations, but we’ll get the ball rolling.

For more information on the Foundation, and to donate, visit or call 403-285-1858. Watch the website for a special event coming in February 2017.

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