When Bruce White and Karen McDonald established their fund with the Community Foundation eight years ago, they were able to marry their distinctive backgrounds and sensibilities into a unique charitable giving strategy.
As the long-time owner of Ottawa’s iconic Bytowne Cinema, Bruce’s daily life is firmly rooted in the community and local arts scene. This natural affinity helps to fuel the couple’s support of such cultural institutions as CKCU, the Great Canadian Theatre Company and World Interaction Mondiale’s One-World Film Festival.
A diplomat and former Canadian High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago, Karen brings an international perspective to her giving and, as a long-time former foster parent, has always donated to a range of international charities, including CARE Canada, Amnesty International and Watercan. It was out of her international experience that Karen gained a special appreciation for homegrown causes as well.
“Working overseas, your awareness is immediately heightened to the level of desperation and difficulties faced by others around the world, ultimately giving you a fresh outlook and insight on your own country,” she says. “We are so lucky here in Canada to enjoy the number of opportunities available to us. Fully recognizing that makes you want to support your own community all the more.”
After coming to the Foundation to consolidate their annual giving, Karen and Bruce made the decision to include a bequest as part of their fund in order to ensure their legacy will live on after their lifetimes. “As we have no children or heirs, we felt that committing to give to the causes we care about in perpetuity was the best way to create the most value out of our estate while continuing to express our gratitude to the community that embraced us,” says Karen.
“We both feel so lucky to have prospered in our life and chosen careers here in Ottawa,” says Bruce, “and as the Bytowne has become part of the cultural fabric of the city, I’ve come to fully appreciate the importance of all the parts that make up our community. Even my staff has taken it upon themselves to start a monthly donation jar to support the charities and causes they care about. It’s all about pride, stewardship and paying it forward.”
It was also that sense of civic pride and stewardship that led the couple to designate a portion of their bequest to the Foundation’s unrestricted Community Fund, allowing it to address the most pressing needs in the community as they arise over time.
“From all we’ve seen over the years, we felt very confident in entrusting the Foundation with the task of allocating a certain amount of our fund to the many worthwhile causes and organizations that it supports each year,” says Karen. “That’s what they know best, and it’s that professional and empathetic insight into our community that brought us here in the first place.”