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funding matters

Funding Matters ... For Our Community: Building an enabling financial environment for the voluntary sector

Nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations in Canada are groaning under the strain of a new funding regime that seriously impedes their ability to perform vital work on behalf of millions of Canadians, according to a study released by the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD).

This study is the first in-depth examination of how the voluntary and nonprofit sector in Canada is coping after a decade of cost-cutting and restructuring by governments. A year in the making, the study's author consulted close to 200 representatives of nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations, public and private funders and funding experts from across the country.

A report by Katherine Scott: Pan-Canadian Funding Practice in Communities (PDF English French) was commissioned by the Task Force on Community Investments, and examines the Government of Canada's current funding practices for the voluntary sector. This report has been submitted to the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel, which is advising the federal Treasury Board on guidelines for grants and contributions. (Also available: the executive summary (PDF English / French) (September 11, 2006))

A report by Katherine Scott: The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector in Ontario kicks off a series of regional reports on the vital 'third pillar' of Canadian society. (June 29, 2006)

The CCSD partnered with Imagine Canada and Canadian Policy Research Networks to submit a brief to the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities, led by Justice Gomery. Endorsed by the Voluntary Sector Forum, the submission provides a voluntary perspective into the important topic of what can be done to improve accountability in the Government of Canada. (October 28, 2005)

Katherine Scott

Voluntary Sector Awareness Project (VSAP)

Voluntary Sector Awareness Project (VSAP) organized 100 Community Conversations across the country where thousands of local and provincial organizations exchanged information and considered the benefits and challenges of creating a “unified voice” for the voluntary sector. As part of the Project, 17 sessions for Social Development organizations were held. A discussion paper (Greater than the Sum of our Parts) and online feedback form were available to allow individuals not attending a Community Conversation the opportunity to provide their input.

With its involvement in Funding Matters, the CCSD continues to play a leadership role on issues and challenges facing the nonprofit and voluntary sector in Canada, such as concerns around financing and capacity in the sector. The Council has participated in a number of initiatives to help move these issues forward, including:

  • The Voluntary Sector Awareness Project will create a public awareness campaign to broaden understanding about the voluntary sector and the social and economic contributions the sector makes to Canadian society. The CCSD is one of the project partners (2005-2006).
  • Member of the Voluntary Sector Forum;
  • The National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO), which for the first time maps the size and scope of Canada’s nonprofit and voluntary sector. The CCSD was a member of the Voluntary Sector Research Consortium which developed this survey (2004);
  • Funding Matters: The Impact of Canada’s New Funding Regime on Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations, CCSD (2003);
  • The Voluntary Sector Initiative, development of The Code of Good Practice on Funding (2002);
  • The Voluntary Sector Initiative, Working Group on Financing (2000-2002);

Funding Matters - Full Report


Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet - One: The Third Pillar of Canadian Society

The Third Pillar of Canadian Society
The Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector - A Vital Piece of Canada's Social and Economic Fabric

June 15, 2003

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More than 900,000 Canadians work for nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations (other than hospitals and universities). Every year, Canadians donate an estimated 1,000,000,000 (one billion!) person-hours to voluntary activities – the equivalent of more than 500,000 full-time jobs.

Nonprofit and voluntary groups play a key role in enriching the lives of Canadians by delivering myriad programs and services, including home care for the sick and elderly, shelter for victims of abuse, recreational programs for children and youth, and assistance to immigrant families. They also enliven our cities with cultural events and advocate on behalf of marginalized people.

This sector has been characterized as the third pillar of society, alongside government and the private sector. Nonprofit and voluntary organizations play an essential role by promoting active citizenship and building bridges among communities and cultures.

Q. So how has the funding regime changed for these groups?

A. The big change revolves around how they are getting their dollars.

Organizations rely on a mix of sources and funding mechanisms: government contracts, foundation grants, donations, charitable gaming revenues, and money from the sale of goods and services. Despite efforts to pursue many different sources of funding, our survey shows that financial volatility and uncertainty has actually increased over the past five years.

Historically, governments have been the biggest funders by providing direct support, or “core funding,” to nonprofit and voluntary groups which has allowed them to pursue their missions and cover basic organizational and administrative costs. Such grants also enabled the organizations to pursue other funding for specific programs and services. In the 1990s, however, governments cut their direct support to many organizations – a move that forever changed the relationship between funders and the sector.

A new funding regime has taken shape:

Nonprofit and voluntary organizations have succeeded in broadening their funding base. But the state remains the largest – and increasingly unpredictable – funder. (Government money still represented about 60% of total revenues among the organizations surveyed for this study.)

Funders now favour short-term, project-based funding.

Funders attach more conditions to their contributions. They target their funding and exert greater control over its use.

Pursuing diverse sources of funding involves greater complexity for nonprofit and voluntary organizations. For example, having to focus on earning income in order to stay afloat can pull groups away from their primary mission. And the growing pressure on them to adopt “market” models of operation threatens to obscure the unique value of their programs and services.

This volatile funding environment threatens the long-term sustainability of organizations. It also threatens to undermine the unique contributions of the sector by eroding the close ties these groups share with their communities, by weakening their voices as advocates for marginalized people, and undercutting Canadians’ involvement in the democratic process.


Fact Sheet - Two: An Unstable, Unpredictable and Fiercely Competitive Funding Environment

An Unstable, Unpredictable and Fiercely Competitive Funding Environment

June 15, 2003

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Governments and other funders have scaled back their commitments to the nonprofit and voluntary sector and have called on the sector to do more with less, yet at the same time, governments have reduced or eliminated public programs and services.

Short-term, project-based funding is increasingly the norm. All funders now subscribe to the new funding strategy partly out of a desire to boost accountability and efficiency in the nonprofit and voluntary sector.

Q. So what is the problem?

A. Raising funds has always been a challenge. But organizations now face greater financial and organizational difficulties due to the growth in short-term, project-based funding from both public and private funders, and renewal of existing contracts is often uncertain.

The organizations surveyed generally supported the funders’ new priorities – such as a desire for greater accountability – and they agreed with the merits of financial diversification. But they expressed growing alarm over the unintended negative consequences of the new funding regime:

Competition has become fiercer for all sources of funding, with smaller organizations often squeezed out by larger groups.

Unstable new funding environment has undermined the capacity of many organizations to provide consistent programs and services.

A majority of respondents – 56% – experienced volatile swings in revenues between 1997 and 2001, with 70% reporting a shift away from core/organizational sources of support to more contingent forms of funding.

95% reported that funding reliability and certainty was an issue for their organization, with six out of 10 organizations reporting that their current sources of income were neither stable nor reliable.

For six of 10 organizations, more than 75% of their funding was for one year or less.

The shift to short-term funding from multiple sources makes the new and heightened reporting obligations from funders an increasingly onerous task, especially for smaller organizations with few resources.

Fact Sheet - Three: Administration: The New Dirty Word in Funding

Administration: The New Dirty Word in Funding Vital Operating Expenses Few Want To Fund

June 15, 2003

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Funders are now very reluctant to cover administrative costs that cannot be directly tied to a project or program. Organizations can typically include a portion of administrative costs, such as rent, in a project budget. But funders take a narrow view of allowable expenses and many do not permit organizations to charge any administrative fee at all.

Q. Isn’t it reasonable to expect that nonprofit and voluntary groups should devote as much of their funding as possible to programs?

A. Absolutely. But this expectation has evolved into an unreasonable demand that virtually all monies be strictly directed to programming.

Many study participants expressed frustration over their inability to charge – much less recoup – the real costs of their programs under the terms of many funding agreements and contracts. Moreover, the trend towards fixed-price contracting is compounding these difficulties year after year. The ramifications for nonprofit and voluntary groups are enormous:

Two-thirds (66%) of organizations surveyed reported cash flow problems related to the project-funding regime. Many indicated that they could not meet their payroll obligations on several occasions.

The project-funding model eats away at the sustainability of organizations. Programming is pared to the bone, important activities are dropped, and capital and infrastructure costs are deferred – all in an effort to make up for non-program costs that are not recognized in the rigid project budgets.

The ban on funding administrative or core organizational costs directly undermines the viability of programs.

Organizations are experiencing increasing difficulties in providing the infrastructure necessary for effective program delivery.

Funders – in many cases, governments – are increasingly slow in signing project contracts, and organizations cannot bill for any costs related to the start-up or operation of their projects – sometimes for weeks after the start date – until the contract is formally signed.

As a consequence, only groups which have access to commercial credit or have substantial financial reserves can afford to take on these contracts.

Fact Sheet - Four: Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations Respond to Change

Non-Profit and Voluntary Organizations Respond to Change - Seeking Out Alternative Funding Sources

June 15, 2003

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In this new funding environment, Canadian nonprofit and voluntary groups are actively pursuing a range of alternative sources of income. Many pride themselves on their ability to be innovative and find creative ways to respond to these demands.

Q. How are nonprofit and voluntary groups faring in the quest for new sources of funding and new ways to do business?

A. Two-thirds of the organizations had a larger number of income sources today than they had five years ago. But groups are still financially fragile and dependent on a complex web of unpredictable, short-term, targeted funding that may unravel at any time.

The majority of organizations surveyed have made substantial changes to better position themselves in this new funding environment. Most have cut their internal costs, altered services and programs, and changed their organizational processes and governance – all in an effort to pursue new funding opportunities.

The process of diversification and restructuring in the sector has been intensive:

The vast majority of organizations surveyed (93%) have tried to diversify their funding sources over the past five years.

Respondents identified public and private foundations as the most common source of non-governmental funding over that period: 81% had submitted applications to foundations, with varying degrees of success.

Two-thirds of the groups surveyed had approached corporations for donations (69%) or sponsorships (65%).

More than half the groups (59%) had organized special fundraising events.

Six of 10 groups (59%) said they were pursuing commercial or business activities to diversify their resource base.

Organizations had also sought out partnerships, which are increasingly required by funders before they will consider financial requests. Participants noted, however, that some funders will not support a project until others have committed money, and the withdrawal of one partner can scuttle the whole funding arrangement.

Organizations across the sector are looking for help to enhance their operational effectiveness. Many believe that becoming more “business-like” was a “positive” or “very positive” development for the sector.


Fact Sheet - Five: The Funding Fall-out

The Funding Fall-Out - The Toll Exacted By The New Funding Regime

June 15, 2003

Funding Matters - Cover

Nonprofit and voluntary groups must now devote a disproportionate amount of time to securing funds and reporting back to funders. This time-consuming process diverts organizations from their key activities and affects the programs and services they provide to millions of Canadians.

Q. But what’s wrong with greater accountability? After all, Canadians want to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely.

A. Nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations support the need for effective accountability. But they challenge the current emphasis on accountability to funders – through onerous reporting procedures – at the expense of accountability to their own beneficiaries, members and communities.

Survey participants suggest that monitoring requirements have taken on a life of their own, imposing heavy demands that threaten the sustainability of many organizations, particularly the smaller ones.

Not surprisingly, human-resource fatigue was a top concern. The new funding climate has placed greater demands on staff and volunteers at most organizations, as they stretch themselves to the limit to remain faithful to their mission. In fact, 57% of groups surveyed reported greater difficulties in staying connected to their constituencies. Other worrisome trends include:

Organizations must hire and let staff go like revolving doors or find money to bridge salaries until the next project-funding period. The uncertain funding climate certainly impedes their ability to plan ahead.

Seven of 10 organizations surveyed said the funding changes had affected their beneficiaries, while 77% said the new funding practices had restricted their ability to meet community needs.

As organizations scramble to qualify for narrowly prescribed program funding, some are being pulled away from their primary mission, which may ultimately hurt their credibility in the community and may hurt the community itself. One-third of organizations surveyed said they had, in fact, experienced “mission drift.”

Advocacy has historically been an integral role for many nonprofit and voluntary organizations. But some groups are speaking out less often on behalf of their constituencies because they are concerned that it may hurt their efforts to cobble together programs and partnerships in this new funding climate.

Cleavages in the sector have opened up between large organizations and smaller groups that are less equipped to compete for funding dollars.

Organizational instability because of volatile funding makes it difficult for groups to build social capital and foster active citizenship.



Since the release of Funding Matters in 2003, many resources have been developed to provide information about and tools for organizations and communities on issues related to financing and capacity, both at the individual community and national levels.


Building Sustainable Non Profits: The Waterloo Region Experience

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Centre for Research and Education in Human Services - Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries 2004

The purpose of this manual is to provide non-profit organizations of all types with practical strategies for building their capacity to weather sustainability challenges. This manual on sustainability is intended to be useful to non-profit organizations anywhere. At the same time, it arises directly out of the experiences of non-profit organizations in one particular community, Waterloo region.

The manual is available through Scholar Portal Books and other sources online.


A Code of Good Practice on Funding

Voluntary Sector Initiative, 2002 application-pdf

Once the Joint Accord Table had completed the Accord between the Federal Government and the Voluntary Sector, it addressed the second phase of its mandate - developing an implementation plan to give effect to the terms of the Accord. A Code of Good Practice on Funding was developed as one of the tools for enhancing practices related to the funding aspect of the Government-voluntary sector relationship. The code identifies the rationale for a Code on funding, the scope and application of the Code and the principles underlying it. As well, the Code identifies the practices that should be followed by the sectors - both individually and jointly - to enhance the funding relationship.

Visit the Voluntary Sector Initiative website for more information and reports.

Community Capacity Draining: The Impact of Current Funding Practices on Non-Profit Community Organizations

Prepared by Lynn Eakin, Lynn Eakin and Associates for Community Social Planning Council of Toronto May 2004 application-pdf

This report provides a framework to analyse in detail agency financing across programs, funders and organizations. The framework allows us to examine why and how community organizations are experiencing such high levels of financial distress. This report, along with the Code of Good Practice on Funding; and the emerging research profiling the difficulties facing the non profit sector, provide building blocks that lay the groundwork for funding reform.

The detailed data analysis provides new insight into the complex tangle of agency financing. The information learned significantly enhances and alters current understanding of the financing of non-profit community organizations and suggests clear directions for the reform of funding practices.


A Brief to the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities

Imagine Canada, CCSD and Canadian Policy Research Networks. October 2005 .application-pdf

Imagine Canada, CCSD and CPRN responded to a request for public input by Justice Gomery. Endorsed by the Voluntary Sector Forum, the submission provides a voluntary perspective into the important topic of what can be done to improve accountability in the Government of Canada.

beyond the boxBeyond the Box: Thinking Strategically about Technology Grantmaking in Canada’s Voluntary Sector

Prepared by Catherine Ludgate, IMPACS and Mark Surman, The Commons Group. January 2004. application-pdf

A concise background paper developed for the Voluntary Sector Initiative Changing Technology Funding Practices Project, that looks at the challenges facing grantmakers in funding technology, and offers some guidelines for grant-makers in assessing technology funding requests.

Building a Collaborative Partnership between the Government of Saskatchewan and the Voluntary Sector: A Review of Best Practices

Prepared by: INNOVA Learning March 2005.

The report looks at government-voluntary sector relationships in Saskatchewan as well as other jurisdictions and focuses attention on collaborative partnerships between the two sectors. It provides lessons that have been learned in developing collaborative relations, and details best practices that can be used as guideposts in developing collaborative partnerships. It looks specifically at best practices in Saskatchewan and makes recommendations to further strengthen the formal relationships between the Government of Saskatchewan and the voluntary sector.

Visit the Encyclopidia of Saskatchewan for more information on Saskatchewan's voluntary sector initiatives.

Getting Down to the Details: Conceptualizing Organizational Sustainability in a Changing Economy

Marilyn Struthers, 2003 Journal for Nonprofit Management, Vol.7 #1 application-pdf

This paper explores the potential for a new conceptual framework of “resourcing practices” to provide a practical lens for organizations to scan, analyse and compare models of organizational sustainability, and sets out four key capacities for financially vibrant organizations. It is based on case studies on ten financially vibrant organizations in Ontario.

Inventory of Effective Practices in Financing and Resourcing of Voluntary Sector Organizations in Canada

Voluntary Sector Initiative

This set of regional case studies highlights successful financing and resourcing practices of Canadian voluntary organizations. Sixty-three case studies were collected in six regions, encompassing all provinces and territories. The inventory presents examples of the creative ways voluntary organizations are raising, accessing and utilizing funds and resources to strengthen their long-term organizational capacity to meet the needs in their communities. It is hoped that by sharing these successes, other organizations may find ideas to adopt or adapt to their own circumstances.

The Inventory, which is organized into a database that can be searched using a range of criteria, and available at Voluntary Sector Initatives' website.

Over the Horizon: The Future of Canada’s Capital Market for Social and Environmental Innovation

Social Capital Market Roundtable. A report of the session sponsored by Tides Canada Foundation and Social Capital Partners. September 2004 .application-pdf

Tides Canada Foundation and Social Capital Partners hosted a roundtable dialogue on the state of “social” capital markets in Canada to look at the new forms of innovation in finance for social purpose initiatives led by non-profit or charitable organizations or hybrids involving for-profits.

Resources for Accountability and Financing Management in the Voluntary Sector

Voluntary Sector Initiative 2003 application-pdf

Provides organizations with resources, including Web site links, to advance their financial management knowledge and skills as well as to enhance their accountability. The document is presented in four overview modules and includes information on the changing environment for accountability and financial management in the private, public and voluntary sectors in Canada; methods to enhance accountability; mechanisms of financial management used by the voluntary sector; and learning opportunities in the areas of accountability and financial management.

The highlight of the guide is the extensive listing of resources in the subject areas of accountability and financial management found in the appendices.

Setting the Agenda: Moving Forward on Financing

A Report by the Working Group on Financing, Voluntary Sector Initiative, October 2002. application-pdf

This report of the sector-only working group on financing outlines recommendations intended to set the agenda for further progress in the area of financing of the voluntary sector and its organizations. The recommendations are divided into two sections: recommendations to the Government of Canada and recommendations to voluntary sector organizations, including those that have or anticipate a funding relationship with the federal government.

Stability and Equity: A plan of action to support the community development and capacity building functions of Toronto’s not-for-profit community services sector

Community-City Working Group on Stable Core Funding, Toronto, November 2004 application-pdf

This final report by community representatives on the “Community-City Working Group on Stable Core Funding” includes recommendations for stabilizing Toronto’s not-for-profit community services sector, and broadening its capacity to strengthen civic engagement, community building and service delivery within all of Toronto’s diverse communities.

For more reports visit Toronto Neighbourhood Centres website.

Supporting Organizational Infrastructure in the Voluntary Sector

This report was commissioned by the Voluntary Sector Initiative Secretariat, and was prepared by Lynn Eakin, Lynn Eakin and Associates. May 2002 application-pdf

The funding of the voluntary sector to deliver programs or services has typically followed a common formula and practice that evolves over time. Funding formulae and funding practice have not been well supported by research or best practice literature and some funding practices have subsequently proven to be counterproductive. The ability of existing funding practice to support organizational infrastructure is one of the areas emerging as problematic.

This paper identifies some of the challenges and barriers to achieving the goal of including infrastructure funding in program/service contracts. It also outlines the need to bring funders from the three levels of government, the private sector, foundations and United Ways together to build and sustain, through supportive and fair funding practices, a vibrant voluntary sector capable of addressing the social and cultural needs of Canadian communities.

For more reports and papers by Lynn Eakin, visit Lynn Eakin: Beyond Numbers website.

Voluntary Perspectives from the McGill-McConnell Program

Voluntary Perspectives from the McGill-McConnell Program is a selection of more than two dozen major papers written by graduates of The McGill-McConnell Program, Master of Management for National Voluntary Sector Leaders. 2005. These papers offer contemporary perspectives on leadership challenges in the voluntary sector, often through the reality of each author’s organization. They also address a range of theoretical and practical topics, such as board-staff relations, youth participation in philanthropy, voluntarism and the application of complexity science to organizational dynamics.

What We Heard: Findings From Discussions in Communities About a Voluntary Sector Human Resources Council

Prepared for: The Voluntary Sector Human Resources Council Feasibility Study, October 2004 application-pdf

This report sets out the major findings from discussion groups that were recently held across the country with people from the voluntary sector. It summarizes participants’ input on a number of overarching issues affecting the sector’s human resources environment, as well as their specific concerns in five key human resources areas. The report also provides a synthesis of participants’ comments and suggestions on how a proposed Voluntary Sector Human Resources Council should work. The findings from these groups, together with the results of an electronic survey and input from selected stakeholders from both inside and outside the voluntary sector, will be instrumental in shaping the vision for a new Voluntary Sector Human Resources Council.

Canadian Research

The Caring Community: Accounting for the Impacts of Provincial Government Changes Community Reconstruction Project Final Report

The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, March 2005

The Community Reconstruction Project is a study of the impacts of provincial government changes on vulnerable populations and on social services provided by non-profit agencies in British Columbia's Capital Region from July 2002 to January 2005. The findings from the study showed extensive evidence of harmful impacts on the clients and on the capacity of all of the participating agencies, and some evidence of helpful impacts affecting discrete populations. The report also makes recommendations for redressing the most damaging impacts and rebuilding the community's capacity to care.

For more Community Social Planning Council reports, visit their website.

Cornerstones of Community: Highlights of the National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO)

Canadian Centre for Philanthropy (now Imagine Canada) September 2004

The NSNVO is a joint research initiative conducted by a consortium of organizations, with the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy serving as the project lead.

The National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO) is a four-year research project that is intended to build our understanding of the nonprofit and voluntary sector in Canada and its needs for capacity building. The project has two main objectives: to collect comprehensive information about the breadth of the sector in Canada, the various types of organizations that exist, and the benefits that they work to provide; and, to provide a preliminary assessment of the needs of organizations for assistance in building their capacity to achieve their missions.

The executive summary, full report and regional fact sheets are available at Imagine Canada's Library.

Cracks in the Foundation, Community Agency Survey 2003

A study of Toronto's community based human service sector Toronto Community and Neighbourhood Services, February 2004

This report documents changes in the way the community-based service sector in Toronto is funded and provides empirical data on the impact these changes are having on that sector. The results of the research reinforce the important role of the community-based service sector in the provision of human services in Toronto as well as helping the City of Toronto further its social development goals such as strengthening neighbourhoods, improving service planning and co-ordination and promoting civic engagement and participation. Clearly, the City has a vested interest in the long-term stability and capacity of the community-based sector, as a manager, funder and advocate of that sector.

Filling the Gap: Keeping Good Work Going Research findings and Recommendations regarding Voluntary Sector Project Sustainability in Atlantic Canada

Prepared by Bruce Pearce for The Brother T.I. Murphy Learning Resource Centre Inc. June 2004 .

This research report explores the theme of project sustainability in the voluntary, community-based sector in Atlantic Canada – including related factors, challenges, effective practices (examines practices of 17 organizations) and insights into the skills, resources, tools (Sustainability Checklist) and strategies which may be applied in future work on this subject.

Visit The Murphy Centre site for more reports and information.

Funding Matters: The Impact of Canada's New Funding Regime on Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Organizations

Katherine Scott, Canadian Council on Social Development, 2003

Funding Matters chronicles how the new funding regime for nonprofit and voluntary organizations in Canada has changed the way these organizations survive and thrive in what has become a competitive and volatile fiscal environment. This study assesses the impact of these important changes on the capacity and long-term sustainability of nonprofit and voluntary organizations. Divergent funding policies, competing regulations and labourious reporting practices are affecting the organizations' ability to pursue key goals, and too often, an organization's mission and core activities are being sidelined in the scramble for funding to stay in business.

Funding Matters … For Our Communities: Challenges and Opportunities for Funding Innovation in Canada's Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector

Katherine Scott and Deborah Pike, Canadian Council on Social Development, 2005

This report summarizes the findings of community-based workshops and presentations undertaken through the project, highlighting common themes and innovative community practices. It also documents different proposals for funding reform raised over the course of the project. This project was a dissemination initiative based on Funding Matters, the 2003 CCSD report on the impacts of the current funding regime on nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations in Canada.

For more information, see the Funding Matters main page.

Passion and Commitment Under Stress: Human Resource Issues in Canada's Non-profit Sector – A Synthesis Report

Ron Saunders. CPRN Research Series on Human Resources in the Non-profit Sector No¦5, January 2004

This synthesis report summarizes the key results of four papers on human resource issues in non-profit organizations, based on Statistics Canada's Workplace and Employee Survey. It identifies issues facing the non-profit sector that cut across CPRN work to date, and makes recommendations to funders, individual employers within the non-profit sector, and the sector as a whole. Areas where further research related to human resources in the non-profit sector would be helpful are also identified.

Visit Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) for more reports and information.

The Satellite Account of Nonprofit Institutions and Volunteering

An extensive data development initiative in Statistics Canada's System of National Accounts.

The primary aim of the satellite account is to clearly identify the economic contribution of Canada's nonprofit sector and allow for an increased understanding of its interaction with other sectors of the economy. The account contains a set of economic statistics describing Canada's nonprofit sector, including a set of standard economic accounts and a nonmarket extension to put an economic value on unpaid volunteer labour. The advisory committee guided the development of the satellite account through the sharing of knowledge, expertise and context relevant to the nonprofit sector.

Stastics Canada's Satellite Account of Non-profit Institutions and Volunteering, 2007.

Voluntary Sector Intiative's Satellite Account of Non-profit Institutions and Volunteering, 2003.

Shaken Foundations: The Weakening of Community Building Infrastructure in Toronto - Impacts of a five-year core funding freeze on Toronto's community-based social service organizations

Prepared by Rob Howarth for the Toronto Neighbourhood Centres. June 2003

This discussion paper documents the impact of a five-year core funding freeze on Toronto's community-based social service organizations, with recommendations for ensuring stable core funding required to support community infrastructure.

The Dance: Seeking, Administering and Accounting for Funding in the Volunteer Sector

by Anne Smith, President and CEO for the United Way of Alberta Capital Region. Muttart Foundation, The Muttart Fellowships 2003

This paper focuses on building an understanding of the current funding realities faced by charitable organizations and how these issues impact an agency's governance, operations and service delivery. It also discusses potential improvements which could enhance agency and funder efficiency and effectiveness.

The Policy and Practice Gap: Federal Government Practices Regarding Administrative Costs When Funding Voluntary Sector Organizations

Prepared by Lynn Eakin, Lynn Eakin and Associates, for the Voluntary Sector Forum, March 2005

This report outlines the results of a survey of 17 federal government programs related to the funding of administrative costs for voluntary sector organizations. The survey identified a significant gap between the policy for funding the voluntary sector articulated in the Code of Good Practice on Funding and the operating practices in many government departments.

The Status of Manitoba's Voluntary Sector: An Omnibus Survey Final Report

Prepared by: Child and Family Services Research Group, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba, January 2003

This survey contains information which describes the strength, challenges and variety of the voluntary sector in Manitoba. It is based on responses from 1,286 organizations which replied to a mail survey.

National Initiatives

Developing New Approaches to Funding Results

Service Canada, November 2005

This report contains concrete recommendations for streamlining the administration of agreements between Service Canada and third-party service providers. A Joint Service Canada/Voluntary Sector Working Group was created in September 2005 to review the policy context and develop a streamlined administrative process for agreements with Service Canada. The mandate also included the establishment of a permanent advisory committee to facilitate ongoing consultation between the voluntary sector and Service Canada. It is expected that the Joint Working Group will complement and inform the Task Force on Community Investments which is led by Social Development Canada.

A Task Force on Community Investments

A Task Force on Community Investments has been created in Social Development Canada to examine federal policies and practices related to the use of transfer payments and the funding of horizontal initiatives in support of community investments. The task force includes both federal government and voluntary sector representatives (2005).

For more information, visit the Voluntary Sector Initiative website.

Voluntary Sector Awareness Project (2005/2006)

CCSD is one of seven national organizations that have come together to launch a new project intended to raise awareness about the Canadian Voluntary Sector. The purpose of the Voluntary Sector Awareness Project (funded by Social Development Canada and led by Imagine Canada) is to generate dialogue and solicit feedback from a broad range of charities and non-profits and, over the summer of 2006, launch a public awareness campaign to be delivered by the sector utilizing communications resources provided by the project.

The Voluntary Sector Forum

The Voluntary Sector Forum is working to facilitate the establishment of provincial/territorial Finance Action Groups across Canada. These groups will address sector funding, with all funders, particularly the provincial/territorial governments and will be comprised of a range of sector organizations and will include funders. The goal for this project is to achieve positive changes in the challenges currently facing organizations. Each group will determine the most effective way to accomplish this goal. The Forum will provide access to the research and resources developed under the VSI, coordination, communication and liaison between groups and website space.

For more information on this please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Developing Human Resources in the Voluntary Sector (HRVS)

The goal of the HRVS project is to help voluntary sector organizations attract, support and keep skilled and committed paid staff. This is done by providing free, practical human resources management tools and information available on a bilingual website, HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector.

Social Innovation

The Canadian Federation of Voluntary Sector Networks

The CFVSN draws together local, regional, provincial and territorial networks of voluntary organizations. The Federation is dedicated to exchanging information and resources within the voluntary sector; facilitating and promoting collaboration; raising the profile of the sector; building the capacity of the voluntary sector; influencing public policy development; and entering into dialogue with other sectors. Many of the member networks are organizing around funding challenges and opportunities, including:

For more information on voluntary sector networks, visit: Centre for Voluntary Sector Research and Development (CVRSD) (now merged with Carleton Centre for Community Innovation).

Funders Forum, Red Deer, Alberta

Local funders have been meeting over a number of years and have pioneered innovative solutions to address local social needs. The Funders Forum is a collaborative effort among various levels of government and charitable organizations that play a funding role in central Alberta's human services sector ( This group meets informally to network on topics of shared concern and work toward meaningful support of Red Deer's nonprofit community. In November 2004, it hosted a second Opening Doors Community Conference for arts, heritage, social, education, sports and recreation organizations across the region.

The Centre for Community Organizations (COCo): Community Cash Workshop Series

Montreal, Quebec. October 2004-May 2005.

This ONLINE series of workshops focuses on financing issues for community groups in Quebec. Participants can connect from anywhere, email or phone their questions to the speakers, and view background documents. The first workshop featured the CCSD research Funding Matters, and a discussion of the current status and trends in funding for the community sector in Quebec. Other topics include financial management and taxation; developing a funding plan for your organization; and social enterprise.

For more information on this innovative approach, visit COCo's website.

Community Development Halton

The workshop, Funding Matters: A Warning and An Opportunity, took place November 25, 2003. Over one hundred and fifty individuals attended. The event was presented by Community Development Halton in partnership with the Canadian Council on Social Development, the Ontario Social Development Council and the Halton Learning Foundation.

The purpose of this workshop was to provide an opportunity for Halton nonprofit and voluntary agencies as well as other representatives of the community to dialogue about:

  • the changing funding landscape in Canada, Ontario and the Region of Halton;
  • the impact of these changes on the financial capacity and long term sustainability of nonprofit and voluntary organizations;
  • the economic and social contribution of nonprofit and voluntary organizations;
  • the nature of the funding regime and the restructuring of the nonprofit and voluntary sector and needed changes to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations and the voluntary sector in Halton.

Katherine Scott's Keynote presentation at the workshop is available for download.

Funding Our Future - A Community Consultation for Ottawa's Voluntary Sector – Ottawa. June 2004

Over one hundred and sixty participants attended this event sponsored by the Social Planning Council of Ottawa, in partnership with local agencies.

Participants explored the primary impacts of funding structures on the voluntary sector in Ottawa, and responses to those impacts; proposed what strengths of the sector should be protected and built upon; suggested necessary elements, tools, resources and participants for working collectively to move toward the goal of an improved voluntary sector in Ottawa; and made recommendations for action which will move forward.

For more information, download the reports:

London's Voluntary Sector Employment and Training Needs Study Pillar Voluntary Sector Network

Shahin Daya, BBA, MBA, Mohamed Haitham El-Hourani, Ph.D Economics, Beth De Long, April 2004

This study serves as a starting point for understanding the sector and its role in the City of London as it highlights both the successes and challenges facing the voluntary sector. This report includes a comparison of London results to other studies and research reports conducted worldwide. In addition, focus groups have been conducted with respondents to further probe areas of interest. This report will form the basis of other studies to further our understanding of the voluntary sector.

Visit the Pillar Nonprofit Network website for additional information and reprts.

Niagara Voluntary Sector Labour Market Study, Centre for Community Leadership, Niagara College

This 2003 study was undertaken to sustain the significant contribution of the voluntary sector to Niagara's economy and quality of life by facilitating the development of a community owned strategic plan that would assist the voluntary sector to identify and meet its workforce needs. The report outlines recommendations to address key issues identified in the survey.

The study is available for download.

Similar studies have also been / are being undertaken by:

Building Strong Communities, A Call to Reinvest in Ontario's Nonprofit Social Services 2004

A network of concerned community service organizations and unions are working together to redress the factors that are undermining the effectiveness of Ontario's non-profit social service sector. The position paper referenced below outlines the problems of increased demand and insufficient funding in our sector and proposes short-term and long-term solutions, including a call for the provincial government to take specific steps to strengthen government social and economic supports for all Ontarians.

For more information, download the Building Strong Communites report.

Please let us know of any innovative work you may be aware of that should be added to the list.