Are Canadian foundations afraid of death?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate inequality, several non-profit and grassroots leaders are calling on Canadian donors to spend down — distributing all of their foundation assets within a defined term — in order to free up capital for community impact. Some are responding, but analysis shows that systemic orientation toward perpetuity in the philanthropic sector in Canada may be preventing other philanthropists from following suit.

Author

A short history of philanthropic perpetuity: tax havens, Catholic corruption and corporate control

The Canadian philanthropic sector is embroiled in a debate about the disbursement quota — the rate at which foundations have to give to charity. Some argue it’s fine where it is — at 3.5 percent. Others argue that this rate is “starving” non-profits across the country. To understand the context for this debate, you need to understand the history.

Author

Who stewards 10 of Canada’s biggest community foundations’ investments? Mostly white men in finance

Canadian foundations invest far more money each year than they grant out to charities. This means that their volunteer ‘investment committees’ — the group that oversees the foundation’s investment decisions — play a considerable role in the overall impact the foundation has. Some social impact leaders say that the “monocultural” nature of these committees is limiting their capacity to create systemic impact.

Author

They won’t take your money: Why these charities are newly restricting donations from controversial corporations

Charities need money. But they also have strong values and a reputation to protect. In light of domestic and international charity scandals; and increasingly powerful movements for racial and social justice; some charities are turning away from donations from controversial corporations — whose money, the charities see, as not worth the moral sacrifice or the public relations risk.

Author

Thinking about using AI to fundraise? Here’s what you need to know — including the ethical questions.

40 percent of charities are still seeing decreased revenue since the start of the pandemic. In this context, fundraisers need all the help they can get. Artificial intelligence tools can help fundraisers to work smarter.

Author

Could there be a wave of charity mergers post-COVID?

Many charities are facing a COVID-19 drop in donations and an increase in service needs from their communities. While many feel able to survive the next six months, their long-term future is more uncertain, posing a risk for communities who rely on their services.

Author

Tired of “siloed” conversations, Justice Fund protest brings disbursement quota advocacy to the street

Grassroots groups and community-led organizations receive miniscule percentages of Canadian philanthropic dollars. Many in the philanthropic and charitable sectors want to change that — but the question of how remains.

Author

Pushed by students, universities lead on fossil fuel divestment. Who will push foundations?

Climate change is an existential threat and it’s powered by the burning of fossil fuels. Experts say that a wave of fossil fuel divestment proclamations amongst Canadian foundations could send a powerful signal to other investors, government and media, that fossil fuels are on the way out — and could also better align foundation’s investment dollars with their social missions.

Author

A DQ hike isn’t enough — here are 7 other things that need to change for more money to flow to Black and Indigenous groups

Funding to groups led by and serving Black, Indigenous and people of colour receive miniscule amounts of Canadian philanthropic dollars. A disbursement quota hike would not automatically mean more funding for these organizations — who are serving some of the most pressing needs.

Author

Federal advisory committee on the charitable sector lacks transparency and diversity, say some, leading to more “conservative” finding on DQ debate

The federal Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector (ACCS) has the ear of Diane Lebouthillier, the federal minister responsible for Canada’s charitable policy. Their findings on key policy decisions, like the disbursement quota, have the potential to shape federal policy for years to come.

Author

Canada is cracking down on the Freedom Convoy’s finances. Here’s why that may hurt social justice movements, too.

Indigenous land defenders and other social justice movements have been labeled "extremist" in the past for their work. Subjecting their fundraising methods to additional anti-terror restrictions could make it harder for them to raise funds publicly.

Author

$800,000 student-led impact investing fund adds new chapters in Ottawa and Victoria

Business degrees are the most sought-after post-secondary education in Canada. But if students graduate without learning about how business can be a force for good, Canada risks having a corporate class that only orients toward profit.

Author

Government of Canada proposes a ‘shocking and incomprehensible’ change on funding non-qualified donees

For years, charities, non-profits, foundations and grassroots groups have called for an easier way for charities to work with “non-qualified donees” — organizations without charitable status. That seemed on the horizon with the steady progress on a senate bill, until now.

Author

Inside the rapidly organized ‘Hill Day’ for a legislative amendment on non-qualified donees

As soon as this week, the government could pass legislation that, sector advocates say, would make it harder for charities and foundations to fund non-profits, grassroots groups and international charities — directly contravening a promise made in the federal budget.

Author

Tentative ‘celebration’ after key amendments passed on non-qualified donees

For three weeks, charity and non-profit advocates have pushed MPs to pass amendments to legislation they say would make it harder for charities to fund non-qualified donees. Monday’s finance committee meeting was the moment to see whether their advocacy had paid off.

Author

A $90M ESG 'Dragon's Den' competition, as industry faces public reckoning

Many Canadian foundations, pension funds and individual investors are trying to align their investments with their values by getting rid of fossil fuels or divesting stocks invested in corporate laggards. But many find it tough to assess whether their investment managers are truly investing in a values-aligned way or just “greenwashing” their portfolios.

Author

NIMBYs. Funder hurdles. Now, rising inflation. Thunder Woman Healing Lodge Society won’t give up

Charities that run food banks and meals-on-wheels programs aren’t the only ones being hit hard by inflation. Organizations that build community infrastructure, like affordable housing or healing lodges are feeling the pinch too. Funders must close the gap created by inflation in order to realize much-needed community infrastructure projects.

Author

'Traditional' foundation makes big bet on unrestricted giving. Will it stick post-COVID?

During the pandemic, many funders relaxed granting restrictions, allowing charities to be more adaptable and resource hard-to-fund infrastructure costs. Two years in, many charities are still struggling — with increased service demands and decreased donations — and wonder: will grantors be snapping back to program-funding business-as-usual?

Author

The shadow side of the rise of big hospital foundation gifts: donation disparities, roller-coaster giving and donor influence

If COVID taught us anything it’s this: we need our healthcare system. And yet, Ontario’s current funding policy for capital projects — rebuilding old ambulance bays, purchasing MRI machines, and building new wings — relies, in part, on philanthropy. Some experts say that this leaves the system vulnerable to health disparities.

Author

Another contentious DQ proposal: Should impact investments count toward the DQ?

Critics of this proposal say allowing impact investments to count toward a foundation’s disbursement quota would result in fewer granting dollars flowing to the charitable sector — at a time of high inflation when they are needed most.

Author

‘Horrific' hunger crisis in Somalia being overlooked by Canadian donors — here’s why, according to fundraising experts

Many humanitarian crises are long-term in nature, affecting millions of people around the world each year. Yet, experts say these “protracted” crises get much less media coverage than “rapid-onset” disasters, limiting their capacity to raise donations, and stymying efforts to help people who need support.

Author

York University wins Buy Social Canada social procurement award

With inflation and reduced donations, some charities are looking for new ways to earn revenue. In parallel, a growing number of big institutional purchasers are looking to “buy social” — expanding the market opportunity for charities, non-profits and social enterprises to offer products and services.

Author

First-ever by-Indigenous for-Indigenous platform launches to help boost donations for Indigenous initiatives across the country

Many settler-led philanthropic organizations want to boost their financial support for Indigenous-led projects, but some lack relationships with Indigenous communities and don’t know where to start.

Author

Investigation: After George Floyd was murdered, corporate Canada promised philanthropic support for Black communities. What have they disclosed donating since?

Black charities in Canada get a fraction of the donations raised by their white-led peers. When George Floyd was murdered and millions marched for Black lives in communities across North America, some Canadian corporations made six-figure donation pledges in support of Black communities. Whether they and their corporate peers have continued to give has material implications for Black Canadians across the country.

Author

26 per cent of MacKenzie Scott's grantees are creating new endowments with the billionaire's funds, and 6 other findings from new evaluation report

A growing cohort of Canadian funders are offering unrestricted gifts to boost impact and restore a more equal power dynamic between grantor and grantee. But does the practice work? Are there unintended consequences? A new report offers insights.

Author

For $400M Community Services Recovery Fund, feds tap Canadian Red Cross, United Way Centraide Canada, and Community Foundations as national funders

Unlike many grants on offer, the federal Community Services Recovery Fund isn’t focused on supporting new programs and services, but rather provides a much-needed injection of cash to support organizational capacity building and innovation. The organizations tapped to distribute the funds have power over who accesses support.

Author

Does an ‘extraordinary’ half-billion dollar donation offer new potential for affordable housing in Winnipeg?

The Winnipeg Foundation, Canada’s largest community foundation, just announced they have been gifted one of Winnipeg’s largest apartment rental companies. How they choose to steward this asset could impact Winnipeg’s housing market in the coming years.

Author

Campbellford/Seymour Community Foundation suspends 2023 granting to ‘protect’ endowment amidst market downturn

The financial markets have bruised many foundation’s endowments this year. So too, however, have many charities and non-profits been feeling the pinch with increased inflation and service demands. The rate at which foundations keep giving will impact how community organizations are able to support their communities.

Author

Disbursement quota hike to 5 per cent given royal assent, now law

The disbursement quota governs the amount of money foundations must spend on charitable activities and flow to communities each year. The raise in the rate will mean more money for community service organizations moving forward.

Author

CRA guidance on non-qualified donees a ‘good first draft’ but leaders are pushing for several big changes before government finalizes policy

For more than a decade, non-profits and grassroots groups have been stymied by CRA policy that has prevented them from getting grants from foundations. After a sustained advocacy campaign, that’s on the cusp of changing.

Author

After long wait, federal government announces roster for 7-member Social Innovation Advisory Council

The seven-member Social Innovation Advisory Council will provide advice to the federal government on the implementation of its social innovation and social finance strategy, including the long-awaited $755 million Social Finance Fund.

Author

Black Opportunity Fund calls for ‘an immediate stay’ of announcement of Black-led endowment fund RFP winner, citing concerns with process transparency

The federal government says they will soon announce the winner of a procurement process to select the steward of a $200 million endowment fund for Black communities. One proponent, the Black Opportunity Fund, says the process used to select the winning proponent, however, lacked due diligence and transparency, undermining the credibility of whichever organization is selected.

Author