Charities play a significant role in the Canadian economy, with revenues 8 times as large as the transportation sector (and many more clients). Despite being termed "voluntary," the sector employs more than 1.3 million Canadians and is responsible for 1 in every 11 jobs. In addition to paid employees, more than 7.5 million people - 1 in 3 adults - do volunteer work for charitable organizations, a contribution valued at $16 billion a year to the economy.
Due to political, fiscal and economic upheavals, the voluntary sector has taken on a new importance. But what is often forgotten is that most money spent by charities - 2 of every 3 dollars - comes from government coffers, and cutbacks have hit the sector at the very time demand for services has soared. Canadians give, on average, only $239 annually to charity, and fewer than 5% of corporations make any charitable contributions at all. Fundraising from individuals and corporations exceeds $10.5 billion annually but has limited potential for growth given existing taxation rules and philanthropic customs.
Since the mid-1990s there have been calls for more formal regulation of the voluntary sector, and for a broader definition of charitable activities under Canadian tax laws. Much of the push is coming from groups who are currently denied charitable status. These include groups involved in economic development and multicultural, women's and environmental issues. The fundamental notion underlying philanthropic activity, that it is directed at individuals rather than groups or whole communities, is also being increasingly challenged.
Author ANDRÉ PICARD
Links to Other Sites
The website for IODE (Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire). A Canadian women's charitable organization that offers educational, social service and citizenship programs for youth, seniors, families and local communities.
Imagine Canada promotes public and corporate giving, volunteering and support for the community. Their website offers information about corporate citizenship, ethical fundraising, financial accountability and related issues. Also offers online access (by subscription) to the extensive Canadian Directory to Foundations and Corporations.
Philanthropic Foundations Canada
The website for PFC, a non-profit member association of Canadian foundations that focuses on public policies that support philanthropy in Canada. Offers information about establishing a charitable private foundation.
Charities and Giving
Check out this searchable database of Canadian registered charities from the Canada Revenue Agency.
The Canadian Book of Charities
Browse an alphabetical list of Canadian charities. From Mavora Publications Inc.
A profile of Tong Louie, an esteemed Vancouver entrepreneur and philanthropist. From the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems.
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