Charities aren’t ready for social finance — here’s how they could be

New research from Imagine Canada shows where charities are lagging in investment readiness

Why It Matters

Social finance could help charities support Canada’s COVID-19 recovery and become sustainable, but many are not ready for investment. Two-thirds of charities don’t even know what it is. Having lost billions in revenue, charities cannot afford to miss out on new sources of income.

In St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, the charity First Light has been trying its hand in business. In recent years it has established five social enterprises, from a childcare centre to an Indigenous cultural training program. From April to August last year its businesses accounted for 38.9 percent of the charity’s income.

“There was a point in time where we were reliant completely on government funding,” says Stacey Howse, director of programs at First Light, which was formerly the St John’s Native Friendship Centre. Relying more on their own income has helped them make longer-term plans and led to lower staff turnover, she says, while creating positive social impacts.

As Canadian charities look to recover from billions in

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