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Putting Research into Action in Hinton

On September 29, Volunteer Alberta, Mount Royal University, and the Alberta Rural Development Network were in Hinton presenting about ways nonprofits could take research about social enterprise, governance, and philanthropy and turn that research into action in their own organizations.

Sarah Burns wrote an article about the event, saying:

A non-profit researcher told a small group of Hinton’s non-profit organizations that just doing good work is not enough anymore.

Keith Seel, Dean of Foundational Learning at Bow Valley College and former Director of the Non-Profit Studies Institution at Mr. Royal University, laid out some realities at a Sept. 29 workshop titled So What.

“You need to demonstrate what outcomes you have had in the community you serve when you go looking for funding,” said Toby Rabinovitz, Program Manager for Volunteer Alberta, who worked with the local Volunteer and Information Centre to bring Seel and his presentation to Hinton.

“The government is being more selective about who they give money to and while you may think you are doing a good job, so does the other 10 organizations looking for the same pot of money.”

Read the full article here

Jenna Marynowski

Marketing and Communications Manager

Contributions of the Nonprofit Sector

Very interesting report on the nonprofit sector in Ontario:

Contributions of the NonProfit Sector

The nonprofit sector is an often-overlooked contributor to the Canadian economy. In 2007, the value-added or gross domestic product (GDP) of the nonprofit sector was $35.6 billion, accounting for 2.5 per cent of the total Canadian economy. This share increases to 7.0 per cent when hospitals, universities and colleges are included, reaching $100.7 billion in 2007.14 Excluding hospitals, colleges and universities, the nonprofit sector employs 600,000 people and has over five million volunteers, supporting a wide variety of sectors including health, education, environment and social services in Ontario. These same nonprofit organizations in the province have annual revenues of $29 billion, 45 per cent coming from earned income, 29 per cent from federal and provincial government grants and service contracts, and 26 per cent from gifts, donations and other sources.15

Most nonprofit organizations (53 per cent) in Ontario are completely volunteer-run, having no paid staff.16 We must not underestimate the contributions of volunteers to care for our elderly, retrain the unemployed, educate our children and care for our environment. Steps should be taken to ensure that these organizations continue to get funding. However, there is room for improvement in terms of streamlining administration and ensuring that accountability frameworks focus on outcome metrics. In addition, multi-year agreements can help create predictable budget cycles for nonprofit organizations.

Recommendation 8-17: Reform funding practices in the nonprofit sector to increase flexibility and reduce administrative costs by focusing on measuring outcomes rather than inputs.

There is also room for improving the responsiveness of the government to the nonprofit sector. The Commission notes the precedent set by the Open for Business initiative that creates a single window through which business can engage all government ministries. We believe a similar model would be helpful to the nonprofit sector, which is just as varied and diverse as the private sector.

Recommendation 8-18: Provide a single point of access within government for the nonprofit sector to improve and broaden relationships across ministries that enter into contracts with the nonprofit sector, using a model such as the Open for Business initiative.

Read the full report here: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/reformcommission/index.html

Number of Canadians Concerned about Charity Fraud Up Considerably

CanadaHelps and Capital One Canada launch the second annual charity fraud awareness quiz with $20,000 grand prize

Toronto, ON (February 24, 2011) – Canadians are generous donors, but two-thirds (65%) of them are worried about fraudulent charities, which is up considerably from a survey done in November 2009 (51%). These beliefs, coupled with the difficulty in recovering their lost donation, ultimately results in more than half of Canadians (53%) stating they are less likely to give to charities because of concerns about fraud.

A large proportion, (41%) say they do not take simple steps to check if a charity is registered, ask the solicitor for ID, or visit the charity’s website before making a donation and instead rely on the reputation of the charity, and/or, past personal experience with the charity. The survey also found that just over half of Canadians (52%) say they are not confident they would know where to turn to in the event their donation did not go to a legitimate cause.

“What concerns us most is the growing number of Canadians who are worried about these crimes,” said Owen Charters, CEO of CanadaHelps. “In educating Canadians to understand the warning signs of these scams, we hope that the well-earned trust in legitimate charities will remain high and Canadians’ eagerness to donate will continue to grow.”

Today’s survey also found that up to 22% of Canadians say they prefer to donate online – an 8 point climb from a similar study conducted in November 2009. In contrast the number of Canadians who say they prefer to donate by cheque is down 7 points over the same time period (from 32% to 25%). Younger Canadians appear to be a driving force behind this change – nearly a third of Canadians aged 18-34 (31%) say online donations are their preferred method.

“With more and more Canadians preferring to donate online, it is increasingly important for credit card users to understand what to look for to ensure they are donating through a legitimate and secure website,” said Laurel Ostfield, spokesperson, Capital One Canada. “We know that awareness is key in helping Canadians protect themselves from fraud. By partnering with CanadaHelps on this campaign, we hope to educate as many Canadians as possible so they are empowered to make safe, charitable donations.”

To educate the public about charity fraud, Capital One Canada and CanadaHelps are teaming up during Fraud Prevention Month for the second annual Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz. This quiz will help participants identify the signs of charity fraud to hopefully avoid these malicious schemes.

The online Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz is designed to inform Canadians about the risk of charity fraud and how to prevent it. Accessible at www.canadahelps.org, every participant who completes the quiz will be eligible to enter into a draw to win a $20,000 grand prize donation, or one of $1,000 weekly donations from Capital One, to be made to the winner’s charity of choice. The Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz runs from March 1-31, 2011.

Capital One and CanadaHelps offer the following charity fraud prevention tips:

  • Make sure the charity is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provides you with their charitable registration number. CanadaHelps.org only lists charities registered with the CRA.
  • Ask to see a charity’s financial statements. These should be readily available to anyone who asks and give you a sense of how the charity spends their money.
  • Understand the impact the charity has and what difference they make in the community. Charities should be able to give you clear outcomes of the programs or services they provide.
  • Research the causes you want to support and how much of your budget you want to donate to charity. You will feel less pressured to give when solicited if you have already planned your giving.
  • Avoid any charity that pressures you into making a donation or isn’t open to sharing more information about their organization.

Additional Survey Results

  • 77% of Canadians made a charitable donation in the past 12 months with women being more charitable (81%) than men (72%)
  • Over one-quarter (28%) of people report they are solicited for charitable donations at least weekly, with 45% saying they get solicited more often in the event of a natural disaster
  • In the wake of a natural disaster, the majority of Canadians (61%) report an increased concern over the possibility of charity fraud
  • While only 5% of Canadians overall prefer to donate via door-to-door solicitation, a surprising 22% of Atlantic Canadians prefer this method of solicitation
  • In terms of deciding who to trust, respondents said the most important factor is a charity’s reputation (53%) followed by its media coverage/advertising (31%) and being asked to donate by a friend or colleague (30%)

About the survey

From February 2nd to 3rd, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About the Charity Fraud Awareness Quiz No purchase necessary. Each person who completes the online quiz on charity fraud at www.canadahelps.org and provides the name of their preferred charity is automatically given one entry. Organizations must be federally registered charities with the Canadian Revenue Agency. Contest begins at 9:00:00 a.m. ET on March 1, 2011 and closes at 9:00:00 p.m. ET on March 31, 2011. Full contest details atwww.canadahelps.org. Skill testing question required. Four prizes of a $1,000 donation and one grand prize of a $20,000 donation available to be won. Not open to residents of the Territories.

About Capital One Located in Toronto, Ontario, Capital One has offered Canadian consumers a range of competitive MasterCard credit cards since 1996, when the company first introduced the Platinum MasterCard in Canada. Capital One Canada is a division of Capital One Bank, a subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corporation of McLean, Virginia (NYSE: COF).

About CanadaHelps CanadaHelps is an online donations website where donors can give safely and securely to all charities in Canada that are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. The mission of CanadaHelps is to engage Canadians in the charitable sector and provide accessible and affordable online technology to both donors and charities to promote – and ultimately increase – charitable giving in Canada.

Contact: Laurel Ostfield, Capital One 416-549-2753 laurel.ostfield@capitalone.com

Owen Charters, CanadaHelps 416-628-6948 ext. 2384 owen@canadahelps.org


Concerns over the Government of Alberta’s Charitable Gaming Model Review

Back in September 2009, the Hon. Fred Lindsay, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security, responsible for the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) appointed a three-member MLA committee to examine aspects of the province’s charitable gaming model. The government of Alberta’s reasoning was that the “committee came in response to concerns from some charities on how proceeds and wait times between events vary throughout the province. Many groups have also reported difficulty in recruiting and retaining enough volunteers to support their activities including casino events.” (see: GOA website)

Volunteer Alberta is concerned about the potential outcome of the charitable gaming model review which was due on March 31, 2010. Part of the reason for the concern is that Culture and Community Spirit Minister Blackett was of the opinion that the 980,000 hours invested by volunteers in casinos can be better spent elsewhere and that these views were made known to the Solicitor General.

Volunteer Alberta and a number of nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations maintain that many of the government’s concerns with the current casino and gaming model being practised in Alberta are unfounded. Volunteer Centre EDs expressed a contrary position indicating that many volunteers want to participate in exactly the kind of special event like a casino where their involvement is confined to a specific date and effort. Groups such as Volunteer Calgary have made submissions to the MLA Committee indicating survey results that casino volunteering was not a barrier to the majority of Volunteer Calgary’s member organizations. Furthermore, as the Calgary Chamber for Voluntary Organizations rightly highlighted, if casinos were fully staffed (without volunteers), there would be no sound rationale for charities to receive revenue from specific casinos.

In the interests of supporting community organizations throughout Alberta, it is crucial that funding commitments through volunteer managed casinos and other Alberta Lottery Fund programs be maintained. In 2008-09, almost 3,500 licensed charities earned $252 million in proceeds from casino events and there are 6,972 charitable organizations eligible to conduct and manage a casino event. It goes without saying that Alberta’s gaming model provides crucial support for a number of organizations in our communities.

Changes to Alberta’s charitable gaming model have the potential to dramatically shift important funding sources for nonprofit and voluntary organizations throughout Alberta.

During times of fiscal austerity, governments will seek alternative revenue sources, including through casinos and gaming. The concern is that if non-profit and volunteer organizations are not able to manage casino, then casino revenues will become part of general government revenues (rather than remaining part of the Alberta Lottery Fund budget stream). Currently, the Alberta Lottery Fund is made up of the government’s share of net revenues gaming, and these revenues total more than $1.5 billion each year, and are used to support thousands of volunteer, public and community-based initiatives annually.

Alberta maintains a unique charitable gambling model compared to other provinces. Some characteristics of this Alberta model include:

  • Each of the 19 traditional charitable casinos facilities can accommodate 182 two-day events per year resulting in almost 3,500 casino events annually.
  • The province is divided into eight casino regions and eligible organizations are assigned to facilities within their area. Based on geographic constraints and current boundaries, waitlists for a casino event range from 16 to 33 months throughout the province.
  • Charities are required to provide between 15 and 25 volunteers per event depending on the size of casino.
  • Between April and June of this year, charitable proceeds, per event, ranged from $18,246 in Medicine Hat to $76,109 in Calgary.

(See here for a breakdown of Alberta Lottery Fund distribution).

The model in Alberta provides organizations with the opportunity to fundraise through casino events. Casino revenues often provide a critical funding base for smaller organizations, which remain heavily reliant upon these funds. While there are some technical problems with the wait times, rural/urban funding differences, and applications processes, there are reasons not to abandon the overall charitable gambling model in Alberta

Organization in Alberta should look to what happened in British Columbia as a result of the way revenues are collected and distributed to nonprofit and voluntary organization. In British Columbia, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the BC government and the British Columbia Association for Charitable Gaming (BCACG) (a non-profit society, representing charities interests in British Columbia) in 1999, which committed one-third of net community casino revenues to charities and NGOs. Since the gaming funds went into general government coffers the BC government, under province-wide budgetary constraints the government felt the need in 2009 to freeze direct access gaming funds for organizations. The government ultimately released 7.95% ($159 million) later in the year, but funding amounts still fell short of the existing one-third commitment.

Non-profit and voluntary sector organizations in Alberta are right to raise concerns that gaming revenues could become one element of all the revenues collected by the government in Alberta. If gaming were to become part of the entire package of government revenue, when budgets begin to tighten, gaming funding might no longer remain a steady source of funding for organizations. This was precisely the problem which occurred in British Columbia, where despite increases in gaming revenues, funding for organizations declined.

Volunteer Alberta is concerned that any reallocation of casino revenues would further aggravate funding challenges facing organizations. Nonprofit and voluntary organizations already face budgetary challenges due to declining government funding stream and private donations. The challenge of replacing any lost income from casino would be compounded by the substantial decline in other provincial funding programs.

Volunteer Alberta hopes the recommendations made by the three-member MLA committee will recognize the importance of Alberta’s charitable gaming model and will not make changes which might adversely affect funding for organizations.

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