Foundations were required to give way more than they do now. Why did that change?

The history behind the calls for foundations to spend more

Why It Matters

The Give5 movement and others in the philanthropic sector are calling on foundations to majorly up their disbursement — which could unlock hundreds of millions of dollars for charities. But years ago, what Give5 is calling for was the legally mandated minimum. Why did it change? There’s a long history behind the disbursement rules, and big questions about whether they’re still relevant today.

How much should a foundation give to charities each year?

The question is both deceptively simple and deeply fundamental. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a looming economic recession, and ongoing injustice in racialized communities across Canada, there is an unprecedented need for charitable dollars. And Kris Archie, executive director of The Circle of Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, says foundations should open their cheque books even wider.

“Communities – they know what they need,” she told Future of Good’s May panel on giving during the pandemic. “It becomes very simple during a moment like this for philanthropic organizations to realize that they write their own rules” and can up their spending according to currently dire community needs.

Long before COVID-19, Canadian foundations were required by law to give far more than 3.


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