Top Takeaways for Fundraisers from the Special Senate Committee Report: 5 and 6
On June 20, 2019, the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector released its report Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector. Within the report’s 190 pages, the committee outlined 42 recommendations for the federal government to implement with the intention of strengthening the nonprofit sector. The report was the culmination of 18 months of public hearings and written briefs. More than 150 witnesses, including several AFP members, appeared before the Committee, and over 90 individuals and organizations submitted briefs.
Many fundraisers have asked what the report’s recommendations mean for them. AFP has put together the top takeaways from the report with the potential to have a huge impact on the fundraising profession.
5. Create access to current data on giving, volunteering, and the impact of the nonprofit sector on Canadians.
Recommendation 16 (p. 55) That the Government of Canada prioritize data about the charitable and non-profit sector in all Statistics Canada economic surveys, including the Satellite Account of Nonprofit Institutions and the General Social Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating; and that the Government of Canada support collaboration between Statistics Canada and the charitable and non-profit sector to determine what additional data could be collected and disseminated in a timely and consistent manner to support the evidence base for decisions by organizations in the sector.
Having access to up-to-date and relevant data will enable charities to better plan for the future and adapt to changing demographics and trends in society. Accurate and updated information also will allow fundraisers to stay ahead of trends and be better able to assess the fundraising landscape. This information, which is no longer provided by Statistics Canada, is sorely needed and will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the fundraising profession and the entire nonprofit sector.
6. Have government address the nonprofit sector in a comprehensive manner.
Recommendation 22 (p. 62) That the Government of Canada, through the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, create a secretariat on the charitable and non-profit sector to:
- establish and convene regular meetings of an interdepartmental working group, with representation from Finance Canada, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the Canada Revenue Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada and other departments with direct connections to these organizations;
- convene meetings of appropriate groups of federal/provincial and territorial ministers with responsibility for various aspects of regulating and relating to the charitable and non-profit sectors; and
- publish an annual report on the state of the charitable and non-profit sector. This report should include changes related to the sector by federal, provincial and territorial governments along with a more general overview of the economic and social health of the sector.
One of the most important recommendations calls for the creation of a secretariat that would bring together representatives from different government bodies and agencies to address issues related to the nonprofit sector.
To date, the sector—which raises billions of dollars every year and accounts for millions of jobs across the country—has never had a specific governmental body that can use its expertise to collect up-to-date, comprehensive data about the sector and develop policy decisions for the sector that are evidence-based. A significant part of our country’s economy is governed by rules from across several different departments and agencies depending on the particular issue. There is often lack of clarity or overlap in the responsibility and role of different bodies regarding the sector. This is no longer a tenable situation given the growth of the sector and its impact on communities across Canada. It would be unthinkable for any other major economic sector to not have a proper home in the federal government.
AFP is very pleased to see this proposal, as it has the potential to create one government body—a sort of “one stop shop” for charities and nonprofits when it comes to working with the federal government. Having a Secretariat dedicated to all aspects of the nonprofit sector, instead of just tax implications and regulatory requirements, will allow the sector to work in close partnership with the government and help create policies that will support charities and assist them in adapting to changes and new trends.
The recommendations in the Senate report can significantly change the nonprofit sector for the better. Though these recommendations are just suggestions for now, moving forward any of the 42 ideas would demonstrate a serious commitment by the federal government to a sector that in 2017 contributed 8.5 percent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), equivalent to $169.2 billion, and employed 2.4 million Canadians.
AFP Canada has prioritized the report’s 42 recommendations and will continue to work with our sector partners–Imagine Canada and CAGP, for example–to ensure these recommendations become reality for the benefit of all fundraisers, charities and Canadian society as a whole.
If you are interested in learning more about AFP Canada’s advocacy efforts, visit our Impact & Advocacy webpage.
Jessica Wroblewski, MPNL, CFRE, is the associate director, annual giving at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont., and the chair of the AFP Canadian Government Relations Committee. Andrea Wright is executive director of the Vancouver Police Foundation in Vancouver, B.C.