Our society has big choices to make on some significant issues. Indigenous reconciliation, environmental sustainability, the refugee crisis, and economic inequality raise questions of immense importance. How we choose to respond to these issues today will define our country and impact generations ahead of us.
Canadian charities and nonprofits have a role to play in responding to these important issues. However, increasing demand for our services, less government funding and stagnating donations has made it difficult for us to fully engage in our communities. In order to participate in answering the big questions, our sector must also reflect on a number of important questions about who we are and our future role in Canadian society. Questions like: What impact are we making in the communities we serve? Are we actually solving problems or only addressing symptoms? What unique value do we provide Canadians that differentiates us from social purpose businesses or community groups? What’s our role in public policy making and Canadian democracy?
These are big policy questions and the time is right for debate. Over the next few years of Liberal mandate, we will have the opportunity to feed into many of the systems that govern our work – to name a few:
- The Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy
- Social procurement
- Changes to political activities regulation
- Potential legal and regulatory reform for the charitable sector
Some argue that we haven’t had this opportunity since the Voluntary Sector Initiative more than a decade ago. Indeed, it’s an exciting time for charities and nonprofits.
Mowat’s Enabling Environment Paper Series
Imagine Canada is partnering with Mowat NFP’s Policy Research hub to initiate these conversations. In their Enabling Environment paper series, Mowat explores how charities and nonprofits and government can better work together to create social good. The relatively short papers are intended to get us all thinking about the conditions that will help our sector thrive.
Two papers have already been released. Charting a Path Forward examines the relationship between the federal government and the charitable sector and presents different ways that the two can work together. Turning the Corner sets the stage for a new legislative framework governing Canada’s charitable sector. This paper is especially timely given the recent consultation on political activities and, hopefully, an impending Senate study on the horizon for the fall. Additional papers will explore a range of topics including: the creation of a data ecosystem, the role of social innovation and social finance, and intergovernmental collaboration.
Imagine Canada is using these papers to support our advocacy work this fall. You can stay up to date on the conversation, paper releases, and policy issues affecting the sector in our Early Alert. This is an important moment for Canadian charities and nonprofits, and everyone in the sector can make a valuable contribution to shaping our future. We’d love to hear from you too about how you see the charitable and nonprofit rising to the challenges facing our society.