Imagine Canada – Sector Monitor

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A Sector Monitor recently released by Imagine Canada provides useful information on the issues facing the non-profit sector at the current time.
This first report, which summarizes the responses of over 1,500 leaders of registered charities across the country, is intended as a baseline for future sector surveys. The purpose of these monitors is to identify trends that will inform thinking and decision making around the sector.
Not surprisingly, the findings show that almost half of the organizations surveyed are facing increased service demands and are having difficulty meeting their mission. Close to a third expect to have difficulty covering expenses in 2010 and nearly a quarter say their existence is at risk.
These organizations are also experiencing high levels of stress. The charities with the highest levels of stress are those in BC and small charities with a budget of less than $150,000.  Conversely, the charities least likely to be under stress are in the Prairies and Quebec, as well as charities with budgets over $1.5 million.
The charities indicated they have taken a range of actions in order to address these funding challenges. Of these, the most common response was to try and increase revenues and reduce overhead. Additionally, more than half of the organizations had increased reliance on volunteers. A quarter of those surveyed had reduced services, two-fifths used reserve funds and a quarter had reduced staffing/hours.

Both charities and foundations were surveyed and the findings show differences between the two groups. Charities were most impacted by decreases in government revenues while foundations were most impacted by decreases in investment income. Although foundations experienced a greater drop in revenues, they were more able to control expenditures. Staff and volunteer levels were also more stable in foundations.
An interesting finding is that charities remain confident about the future when they look further down the road. More than a quarter expect to be better able to fulfill their mission within 3-4 months and two-fifths expect to be in a better position within 1 year. Foundations are more optimistic than charities about their ability to fulfill their mission in the short and medium term. 
While this is not what we are seeing and hearing from the sector in BC, where the full economic impact is being experienced this fiscal year, the survey was conducted across Canada. Charities in other parts of the country may now be moving toward recovery. Also, the survey included foundations who are more dependent on the market, which is now starting to recover. 

Excerpted from Imagine Canada’s Sector Monitor. Download this report.

by Val Green, Executive Director
Volunteer Victoria

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