Ontario's charities are in dire need of help, industry experts say

News May 26, 2020 by Megan DeLaire Toronto.com

Ontario’s charities are in distress.

Across the board, surveys of charities and non-profit groups by organizations like the Ontario Non-Profit Network and Imagine Canada have revealed office closures and program cancellations, human resource challenges and an abrupt loss of revenue from the cancellation of fundraising events this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, 150 charities wrote a letter to the federal government asking for a $10-billion stabilization fund to avoid the collapse of the sector due to the pandemic. In mid-May, 15 health charities in Ontario called on the provincial government for relief and long-term aid in a letter to health minister Christine Elliott.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a fundamental threat to our continued ability to fundraise successfully and therefore, to deliver on our core missions,” read the letter, signed by the heads of organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Lung Association, Diabetes Canada and Heart and Stroke. “Many of our organizations have already been forced to lay off significant numbers of employees — up to 70 per cent in some cases.”

Imagine Canada, which works to strengthen Canadian charities through research and advocacy, projected in March that the economic downturn associated with COVID-19 could cost charities in Canada between $9 billion and $15 billion in revenue.

Charities generate revenue through auctions, fundraising events, campaigns and galas as well as earned income from service fees and other forms of online and in-person gift-giving. A report published by Imagine Canada in May revealed charities in the country have experienced declines in revenue from all sources, with arts and recreation organizations and charities that rely on earned income hit especially hard.

The organization’s director of research, David Lasby, based the report on the results of a late-April survey of 1,458 heads of charities in Canada. Lasby told Torstar trends in Ontario, which has the largest non-profit sector in Canada, mirror what he has seen across the country. 

“Fundraising is a very personal endeavour, and there’s actually very little of it that doesn’t, in some way, at some stage of the process, track back to face-to-face contact,” he said. “Physical distancing affects much more than you might think. If you think this is just about the cancellation of event-based fundraising, actually, it’s more than that.”

While Ontario’s charities have lost revenue in previous economic downturns, like the 2008-09 recession, Lasby said losses were usually limited to a few revenue streams, allowing charities to compensate in other areas. Lasby said the broad losses across all revenue streams seen today are unprecedented.

“We’re basically in territory almost without precedent in living memory,” he said.

LOOKING AHEAD

Of the charities surveyed by Imagine Canada, only 20 per cent believe they will be able to maintain their current level of operations for three to six months.

Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada, said that without intervention, Canadians risk the disappearance or reduction of services they have grown accustomed to using.

“We live in a society where we have benefitted from the ability to pick up a phone or go online and connect with an organization and very quickly receive whatever services we need,” he said. “I think what’s at risk is the future of those being available to Canadians when they want them.”

MacDonald said charities, governments and donors all have a part to play in saving the sector. Charitable organizations, he said, need to come up with innovative ways to fundraise and deliver their services in a world reshaped by the viral pandemic.

He said governments should also move to stabilize the charity and non-profit sector through emergency funding. 

In its April 6 flash survey report on the impact of COVID-19 on non-profit organizations and charities, the Ontario Non-Profit Network (ONN), stated 79 per cent of 483 respondents identified a government stabilization fund as a critical need during the pandemic.

Finally, MacDonald said individual donors will need to dig into their pockets to help keep their favourite charities alive.

“We really do need Canadians, where possible, to hang with charities,” he said. “If they value those services, and they still have employment and can help a bit more, now is the time to do so.”

Ontario's charities in dire need of help, industry experts say

Pandemic puts #givingback at an all-time low

News May 26, 2020 by Megan DeLaire Toronto.com

Ontario’s charities are in distress.

Across the board, surveys of charities and non-profit groups by organizations like the Ontario Non-Profit Network and Imagine Canada have revealed office closures and program cancellations, human resource challenges and an abrupt loss of revenue from the cancellation of fundraising events this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, 150 charities wrote a letter to the federal government asking for a $10-billion stabilization fund to avoid the collapse of the sector due to the pandemic. In mid-May, 15 health charities in Ontario called on the provincial government for relief and long-term aid in a letter to health minister Christine Elliott.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a fundamental threat to our continued ability to fundraise successfully and therefore, to deliver on our core missions,” read the letter, signed by the heads of organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Lung Association, Diabetes Canada and Heart and Stroke. “Many of our organizations have already been forced to lay off significant numbers of employees — up to 70 per cent in some cases.”

Related Content

Imagine Canada, which works to strengthen Canadian charities through research and advocacy, projected in March that the economic downturn associated with COVID-19 could cost charities in Canada between $9 billion and $15 billion in revenue.

Charities generate revenue through auctions, fundraising events, campaigns and galas as well as earned income from service fees and other forms of online and in-person gift-giving. A report published by Imagine Canada in May revealed charities in the country have experienced declines in revenue from all sources, with arts and recreation organizations and charities that rely on earned income hit especially hard.

The organization’s director of research, David Lasby, based the report on the results of a late-April survey of 1,458 heads of charities in Canada. Lasby told Torstar trends in Ontario, which has the largest non-profit sector in Canada, mirror what he has seen across the country. 

“Fundraising is a very personal endeavour, and there’s actually very little of it that doesn’t, in some way, at some stage of the process, track back to face-to-face contact,” he said. “Physical distancing affects much more than you might think. If you think this is just about the cancellation of event-based fundraising, actually, it’s more than that.”

While Ontario’s charities have lost revenue in previous economic downturns, like the 2008-09 recession, Lasby said losses were usually limited to a few revenue streams, allowing charities to compensate in other areas. Lasby said the broad losses across all revenue streams seen today are unprecedented.

“We’re basically in territory almost without precedent in living memory,” he said.

LOOKING AHEAD

Of the charities surveyed by Imagine Canada, only 20 per cent believe they will be able to maintain their current level of operations for three to six months.

Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada, said that without intervention, Canadians risk the disappearance or reduction of services they have grown accustomed to using.

“We live in a society where we have benefitted from the ability to pick up a phone or go online and connect with an organization and very quickly receive whatever services we need,” he said. “I think what’s at risk is the future of those being available to Canadians when they want them.”

MacDonald said charities, governments and donors all have a part to play in saving the sector. Charitable organizations, he said, need to come up with innovative ways to fundraise and deliver their services in a world reshaped by the viral pandemic.

He said governments should also move to stabilize the charity and non-profit sector through emergency funding. 

In its April 6 flash survey report on the impact of COVID-19 on non-profit organizations and charities, the Ontario Non-Profit Network (ONN), stated 79 per cent of 483 respondents identified a government stabilization fund as a critical need during the pandemic.

Finally, MacDonald said individual donors will need to dig into their pockets to help keep their favourite charities alive.

“We really do need Canadians, where possible, to hang with charities,” he said. “If they value those services, and they still have employment and can help a bit more, now is the time to do so.”

Ontario's charities in dire need of help, industry experts say

Pandemic puts #givingback at an all-time low

News May 26, 2020 by Megan DeLaire Toronto.com

Ontario’s charities are in distress.

Across the board, surveys of charities and non-profit groups by organizations like the Ontario Non-Profit Network and Imagine Canada have revealed office closures and program cancellations, human resource challenges and an abrupt loss of revenue from the cancellation of fundraising events this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, 150 charities wrote a letter to the federal government asking for a $10-billion stabilization fund to avoid the collapse of the sector due to the pandemic. In mid-May, 15 health charities in Ontario called on the provincial government for relief and long-term aid in a letter to health minister Christine Elliott.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a fundamental threat to our continued ability to fundraise successfully and therefore, to deliver on our core missions,” read the letter, signed by the heads of organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Lung Association, Diabetes Canada and Heart and Stroke. “Many of our organizations have already been forced to lay off significant numbers of employees — up to 70 per cent in some cases.”

Related Content

Imagine Canada, which works to strengthen Canadian charities through research and advocacy, projected in March that the economic downturn associated with COVID-19 could cost charities in Canada between $9 billion and $15 billion in revenue.

Charities generate revenue through auctions, fundraising events, campaigns and galas as well as earned income from service fees and other forms of online and in-person gift-giving. A report published by Imagine Canada in May revealed charities in the country have experienced declines in revenue from all sources, with arts and recreation organizations and charities that rely on earned income hit especially hard.

The organization’s director of research, David Lasby, based the report on the results of a late-April survey of 1,458 heads of charities in Canada. Lasby told Torstar trends in Ontario, which has the largest non-profit sector in Canada, mirror what he has seen across the country. 

“Fundraising is a very personal endeavour, and there’s actually very little of it that doesn’t, in some way, at some stage of the process, track back to face-to-face contact,” he said. “Physical distancing affects much more than you might think. If you think this is just about the cancellation of event-based fundraising, actually, it’s more than that.”

While Ontario’s charities have lost revenue in previous economic downturns, like the 2008-09 recession, Lasby said losses were usually limited to a few revenue streams, allowing charities to compensate in other areas. Lasby said the broad losses across all revenue streams seen today are unprecedented.

“We’re basically in territory almost without precedent in living memory,” he said.

LOOKING AHEAD

Of the charities surveyed by Imagine Canada, only 20 per cent believe they will be able to maintain their current level of operations for three to six months.

Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada, said that without intervention, Canadians risk the disappearance or reduction of services they have grown accustomed to using.

“We live in a society where we have benefitted from the ability to pick up a phone or go online and connect with an organization and very quickly receive whatever services we need,” he said. “I think what’s at risk is the future of those being available to Canadians when they want them.”

MacDonald said charities, governments and donors all have a part to play in saving the sector. Charitable organizations, he said, need to come up with innovative ways to fundraise and deliver their services in a world reshaped by the viral pandemic.

He said governments should also move to stabilize the charity and non-profit sector through emergency funding. 

In its April 6 flash survey report on the impact of COVID-19 on non-profit organizations and charities, the Ontario Non-Profit Network (ONN), stated 79 per cent of 483 respondents identified a government stabilization fund as a critical need during the pandemic.

Finally, MacDonald said individual donors will need to dig into their pockets to help keep their favourite charities alive.

“We really do need Canadians, where possible, to hang with charities,” he said. “If they value those services, and they still have employment and can help a bit more, now is the time to do so.”