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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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$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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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'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?

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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.

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