AFP Responds to Calgary Herald Article on Charity Fundraising

Stewardship & Marketing: Donor Relations/Stewardship
Ethics, Accountability, & Professionalism: Fundraising Costs, Fundraising Policies
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On September 25, 2020, AFP Canada sent the following letter to the Calgary Herald regarding its article entitled, "Opinion: Excessive fundraising by charities is not a joke".

September 25, 2020

Calgary Herald
215 – 16 Street S.E.
Calgary, Alberta T2E 7P5

Subject: Response to Opinion: Excessive fundraising by charities is not a joke

Dear Editors,

While the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Canada always appreciates media stories that highlight charities, we believe the recent article, Opinion: Excessive fundraising by charities is not a joke, missed a crucial point: the impact of charities on their beneficiaries.

Impact is why charities matter. The role of charities is to help to make positive change for those they serve and in order to do this they need funds. Fundraising is crucial to helping to make a difference in our communities, our country and around the world.

It is interesting that the recent article focused on the size of a charity’s reserve fund in relation to whether or not fundraising is needed. In general charities have relatively small or no reserve funds at all. This makes charities extremely vulnerable, particularly when faced with the challenges caused by the pandemic.

With a substantial drop in donations and insufficient reserve funds to fall back on, an increasing number of charities have had to make drastic cuts to their budgets, and some have even been forced to close their doors. The result is a reduction in services and supports for their beneficiaries at a time when they are most needed.

When evaluating businesses, reserve funds are valued because it is understood that they are necessary for an organization to continue its operations. Reserve funds are equally necessary for charities. When Canada and the world emerge from the pandemic, the needs we know today will still exist and will likely be even more acute. Charities will continue to play a crucial role in addressing those needs, and they will need funds to be able to do so.

When asked to support a charity’s work, donors should consider the tangible impact that the charity has on its beneficiaries. They should look at the programs, services, research and on-the-ground benefits that affect real people.

This is not to say that donors with concerns about financial matters shouldn’t act on them. To the contrary, donors should most certainly raise their concerns with charities. Philanthropy is most effective when it is supported by knowledgeable and educated donors. If donors are not pleased with the answers, they should find another organization to support. There are more than 86,000 registered charities across Canada that are making incredible impact in their communities.

Charities are needed now more than ever as we confront these extremely challenging times. We are faced with urgent needs due to the pandemic and the amplified struggle for racial equity and equality. It is our responsibility to focus on what is most important: making a positive difference. For the sake of all those who are struggling across our country, let’s focus on the impact of our charities.

For more information contact Lisa Davey, vice president, AFP Canada, at or 613-407-7169, or visit our website at


Paula Attfield
Chair, Board of Directors
Association of Fundraising Professionals Canada

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