The full value of our philanthropic contribution
(Updated April 2023)
Our organization seeks to use its financial capacity to benefit Québec society, contributing to the sustainable improvement of conditions that will help the youth of Québec to realize their full potential. We want to be prepared to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
The Foundation is committed to:
- Optimizing its grantmaking to organizations and networks whose objectives are in line with the Foundation’s mission
- Investing a portion of its capital in social initiatives that reflect its mission
- Making investments that allow it to maintain the value of its long-term assets (in constant dollars) for the purpose of preserving its granting and program capacity, recognizing that it may take generations to achieve the social change that we aspire to
- Complying with the Canada Revenue Agency disbursement quota requirement
- Keeping its overhead costs to a minimum by adopting operating, administrative and governance practices that are rigorous, effective and efficient.
Endowed with a capital of $1.4 billion when it launched its activities in 2000, the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation today holds assets in excess of $2 billion. It is a private foundation that was created through a final donation from the Chagnon family. Its revenue may not be used for the personal benefit of any of its members or directors.
Every year, as a registered charity, we comply with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regulation that requires us to disburse a certain percentage of our assets1 called the disbursement quota. As of January 2023, this amount has been set at 5%, up from 3.5%.
We welcome the Canadian government’s decision to increase the disbursement quota from 3.5% to 5%. In the fall of 2020, we had announced our intention to implement a potential increase of $150 million in grants over the next five years, taking into account grantees’ rhythms, needs and capacities. The purpose of this decision was to increase our total contribution from the previously earmarked $350 million to a maximum of $500 million, representing yearly average payout of 5% of our capital.
We then reaffirmed this commitment by endorsing the position of Philanthropic Foundations Canada recommending that the disbursement quota be increased from 3.5% to 5% in September 2021. This recommendation was taken from the PFC’s submission to consultations by the Government of Canada on “potentially increasing the disbursement quota and updating the tools at the Canada Revenue Agency’s disposal, beginning in 2022.”
Starting in 2017, with the progressive rollout of our current orientations, our philanthropic contributions increased while our partnerships with the Québec government were winding down.
In all, between 2017 and 2022, our philanthropic contributions totalled $410 million:
- 2022: $93 million
- 2021: $72 million (over $1 billion dollars were paid out since the beginning of our activities in 2000)
- 2020: $63 million
- 2019: $62 million
- 2018: $59 million
- 2017: $61 million
When the health crisis began in 2020, we rapidly set up an emergency fund and allowed our partners to redirect our contributions to respond to urgent needs. Many of them, however, had to defer our support2 for their long-term projects—an approach that we also encourage in non-pandemic times.
We are constantly looking for optimal ways to intensify and diversify our support at our partners’ rhythm at a time of great uncertainty and upheaval (pandemic, environmental crisis, inflation, economic pressure on the most vulnerable population groups, labour issues in most sectors, etc.).
 Calculated based on the value of a charity’s property that is not used directly in charitable activities or administration (source: CRA).
 It is possible that we could have a deficit year. If that happens, we have the possibility of applying the CRA regulation that permits organizations to draw on their disbursement excesses from previous exercises to offset a shortfall, rather than requiring our partners to maintain their planned deployment schedule just to ensure we meet our quota if they are not in a position to do so.
Since the social change that we aspire to may take generations to achieve, our investment policy aims to maintain the value of our capital in order to preserve our capacity for granting and programs over the next several decades. Our policy stringently integrates ESG criteria and practices into our portfolio management. More than ever, we have become part of a movement that integrates environmental (E), social (S) and governance (G) factors into our portfolio management alongside traditional investment criteria. We are vigilant in ensuring that our external portfolio managers invest the Foundation’s capital responsibly and sustainably.
In addition to our grants, we have also set a 2026 target for investing 10% of our capital (approximately $200 million) in social initiatives, such as affordable housing, community-owned infrastructure, sustainable and equitable food systems and employment integration.
As of December 2022, we had already committed $106 million.
Overhead costs are all operating expenses related to the implementation of our mission. These include all operations associated with administrative expenses and the management of investments, finances, communications and human resources. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of rigour, effectiveness and efficiency in our operating, administrative and governance practices.
In 2020, we made the decision to include costs related to the management of grant applications and the accompaniment of the organizations we support. By so doing, we have ensured that none of our overhead costs is considered an eligible expense in reaching our contribution quota.
Our overhead cost ratio is calculated as follows: overhead costs / (donations + overhead costs). In 2022, the ratio was in the order of 8%.
To avoid contributing to social inequality, we strive to minimize the spread between the highest and lowest salaries at the Foundation, while continuing to ensure an attractive employment offer. The Foundation’s compensation policy reflects its values of solidarity, justice, inclusion, agility and collaboration. The fundamental principles of this policy, which is reviewed on a regular basis, assure the organization of rigorous and equitable management that enables it recruit and retain the talent that it needs to achieve its mission. Compensation includes pension plan contributions and such employee benefits as insurance and employer source deductions.