For 45 years, the Estonian Foundation of Canada (EFC) has supported Estonian cultural and heritage initiatives across Canada. EFC has created a financial foundation for our community, providing consistent, significant support for ongoing programs and new projects and initiatives to generations of Estonians. Since 2001, Estonian Foundation of Canada has supported our community with close to $6 million dollars.
The decisions we make today will have a significant impact on ensuring a vibrant future for Estonians in Canada. This was a key message in remarks by President Eva Varangu at the Annual Meeting of the Estonian Foundation of Canada on April 24, 2019. Chaired by Varangu and attended by the Board of Directors: Mihkel Holmberg, Martin Pede, Lia Hess, Peeter Põldre, Maret Liik, Maris-Ann Vanaselja, Elli Kipper and Katrin Roop. Also present were Foundation staff, Andrea Herrmann, manager of the EFC office and of marketing & development, and Liis Teedla, Administrative Assistant, as well as Foundation members, donors, scholarship recipients and invited guests.
Eva Varangu also stressed that collaboration is key to our community’s survival and long term strength and vitality. While there was much to be proud of in the pivotal role the Foundation has played for 45 years, Varangu noted that it only makes sense to consider what it is that we want our community to look like in the next 45 years.
During 2018, EFC provided funding to more than 46 worthy projects or programs, including requests from across Canada to help celebrate Estonia’s 100th anniversary – a great example of why a national foundation is important.
The Foundation continued to support its beneficiary and agent organizations such as Estonian language schools and kindergartens, Estonian summer camps such as Jõekääru, Seedrioru and Lättemäe, folk dancing groups, and arts and cultural events in Toronto, Hamilton, Montreal, Vancouver and across Alberta.
These activities help ensure older and younger generations continue to connect with each other to share and celebrate their common culture. EFC also supports new initiatives such as Estonian Music Week (Founding Sponsor) and was founding supporter of EstDocs film festival.
One of the best attended annual events in our community was started by EFC. Now in its 8th year, An Estonian Christmas/Rahvajoulupuu is an afternoon of activities, performances, food and fun that brings together all age groups. Most importantly, even though EFC organizes it, this is a collaborative community event with funding and planning across organizations.
Planning for the future is important, said the President and that means making decisions. One of the important decisions Estonian Foundation of Canada has made was to support the creation of the new International Estonian Centre – one of the biggest projects the Estonian diaspora has undertaken in more than 50 years. She noted the Foundation has consistently supported and encouraged consolidation of our community and that working together is key to success.
Varangu explained that a major and critical function of the Foundation is to fundraise. Over the years, the Foundation has consistently disbursed more funds than fundraising efforts have brought in because there was a need. Bequests compensated for budgetary gaps in the past but bequests have decreased.
As a result, EFC is increasing its efforts to educate our community on donating to the charity and Planned Giving. This is more than including EFC in your Will, it is a way to reach your goals for charitable giving while maximizing tax and other financial benefits. EFC also produced brochures about the Foundation and on Planned Giving, and started a monthly newsletter. Varangu stressed the need for everyone to help the Foundation continue its mission and asked for help to enlarge the EFC database. Adding more names will increase EFC’s number of potential donors.
Treasurer Martin Pede then delivered a thorough report expanding on the themes introduced by President Varangu. Total EFC year-end asset value remained consistent with past years. However, both donations and the income generated by the EFC investment portfolio decreased in 2018, resulting in a small deficit. Pede reported that despite lower expenses in 2018, the Foundation continues to disburse financial support that exceeds revenues from donations and bequests. He presented data demonstrating that although donations have increased slightly on average in the past 8 years, the decrease in bequests has been significant. This change in funding from the community has resulted in funding outflows that have consistently outpaced fundraising income. The 2019 budget anticipates donations to increase moderately and expenses to continue to decrease, but still leaves EFC with a budget deficit. The anticipated sale of EFC real estate investments will help, however, and Treasurer Pede emphasized that continued support for the community is paramount.
Election of Directors to the Foundation followed. Directors Peeter Põldre, Katrin Roop stood for re-election and Kaili Sermat-Harding was nominated as a new Director. All three were acclaimed to a three-year term. Director Elli Kipper decided to step down and was thanked warmly for her contributions.
2018 EFC scholarship recipients Erik Kadai, Liis Jõgi and Juku Gold received certificates in addition to their scholarship. Family members accepted on behalf of Mark Pettinen, Tomas Saun and Elin Sõber-Williams, who were unable to attend. Emilie Tamtik, studying in South Korea, sent an update. Each student was asked to write about why they were proud to be Estonian and why they thought Estonian Foundation of Canada plays an important role in the community. Their insights were remarkable.
Finally, the President stated that donors to the Foundation are the lifeblood of this charity and that all donations are welcome.
Tribute donations for birthdays and anniversaries were acknowledged, as well as noting memorial donations for those who had passed away with a moment of silence.
EFC lapel pins were presented to Ain Dave Kiil (Edmonton), William Napier Covert (New Brunswick), Ingrid Soans & Norman Illis Reintamm (Hamilton), Rein Talvak (Whitby), Mailis and Jaan Saun, Arthur and Mary Heinmaa, and Thomas Koger (Toronto) for their donations.
The EFC Donor Wall honours donors with cumulative donations total $2,500 (bronze), $5,000 (silver), $10,000 (gold), $20,000 (platinum) or $100,000 (diamond). New blades on the donor wall - BRONZE: Arthur & Mary Heinmaa, Selma Kase-Hogg, Ain Dave Kiil, Thomas Koger, Marlene & Kalev Kuutan, Irja & Rein Mägi, Margit & Armas Maiste, Mailis & Jaan Saun, Ingrid Soans & Norman Illis Reintamm, Rein Talvak, Ingrid Tanner, Rutt Veskimets.
Thanks to their continued contributions, donors also moved into new categories: to SILVER: Ene-Liis Martens, Lille & Gunnar Neemre, Tiiu & Uno Jaason. To GOLD: Erika & Leo Allas, Kersti Võntso-Covert & William Napier Covert, Astra & Harry Hiis, Vaike Külvet, Asko Kütti, Edgar & Maie Lees, and Martin Weiler.
The meeting adjourned and a reception followed.