While the charitable and nonprofit sector generates more than eight per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product (an estimated $192-billion) and employs more than two million people, it has no government representative to champion its work as it faces enormous challenges emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our charitable sector requires strong, unified leadership to address the many concerns, negative trends and inequalities. The status quo is failing those in need,” says Kim Fuller, founder and CEO of Phil, a company that supports nonprofits, charities and foundations to strengthen their relationships with funders.
Ms. Fuller works with not-for-profit organizations and social enterprises to transform and propel all aspects of their operations, from strategic planning to effective fundraising, to the benefit of Canadians across the country. She questions why there is still no federal government minister or national entity – such as the Canadian Bar Association for the legal profession – to advocate for a sector that is bigger than the country’s high-profile oil and gas industry.
As a consequence of the pandemic, she predicts that the next few years will be especially tough, but believes in the strength of ambitious organizations. “There is still a lot to recover from. So many organizations are having to rethink their missions and how they operate. Now is the time for creativity and bold ideas that will rally those looking to shape a better future for all,” says Ms. Fuller. “Our clients are seeing an increase in demand from people counting on support from charities and social services to survive. How can we work together to address the biggest issues [that result from] a decrease in funding?”
Mainstream funders and grant makers are reluctant to support charities’ operational costs, which is exacerbating the industry-wide challenge of recruiting, retaining and adequately compensating staff. “Most funders want to focus on programs and services, but not-for-profits need to better remunerate their staff, have a roof over their heads and keep the lights on. The lack of funding for capacity-building is my biggest heartache,” says the industry veteran.
“I have had donors tell me they will not give to charities if the administration overhead is more than 12 per cent. This is not how one should judge the credibility of an organization – it is one data point among many others,” she says. “We need to work on trust. Charities don’t get enough credit in how they manage unrestricted funds and allocate the money. Above all, we need systemic and structural changes if we hope to significantly improve the outcomes for those who count on and for those who work in the charitable sector.”
More information: phil.ca
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.