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Policy priority: Grants and Contribution

collage of charities
Policy priority: A better funding relationship with government

Government partners with community organizations to deliver crucial programs, but the way it funds these initiatives is burdensome, inefficient, and fails to cover the full cost of service delivery.

Why it matters

Nonprofits and charities are experts in their fields and well connected to their communities. They’re often entrusted by the federal government to deliver on government priorities and deliver crucial programs and services. However, the funding system that compensates organizations for this work is so challenging to navigate that some have decided that pursuing government  funding is not worth the burden. The current situation undermines organizational sustainability for many nonprofits and is ultimately detrimental to the government’s ability to achieve social and economic outcomes.

Did you know?
  • Even small funding agreements can require up to fifteen hours of reporting each month. Many organizations report losing money on grants because the funding did not cover the costs of administering the program (e.g., supervisory time; office supplies; IT systems and other equipment) or of mandatory reporting. 
  • Grants are often short-term and when they are renewed, there are frequently gaps between the contracts. This means that organizations may have to give up phone plans, leases, and staff commitments in the interim. Some organizations are required to  operate at a deficit or tap into reserve funds  to sustain operations between contracts.
  • Grant applications and reports are not uniform across departments and agencies, meaning that organizations must duplicate work when applying or reporting to multiple government departments. 
Our Ask
  • That the federal government ensure that departments and agencies cover the full administrative costs associated with delivering the services being funded in transfers to charitable and nonprofit organizations;
  • That the federal government ensure that grant and contribution agreements cover a minimum of two years, renewable as appropriate; and that the level of information required for both application and reporting on these agreements be commensurate with the level of funding, minimizing complexity for smaller amounts; and
  • The creation of a better integration of program management practices and standardizing service delivery across government departments. 
Learn More

Imagine Canada, 2020

Imagine Canada, 2020

Canadian Women’s Foundation, ONN, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Kathleen Lahey with contributions from Imagine Canada, 2020

Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector, 2019 - recommendations 10, 11 and 12

Independent Blue Ribbon Panel, 2006

Canadian Council on Social Development, 2005

The Philanthropist, 2004

Canadian Council on Social Development, 2003

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