Sunday, June 24, 2012

Insights Into the Charitable World: A Primer

According to Imagine Canada the non-profit and voluntary sector in Canada generates 7.8% of our GDP. So not only is the sector interesting for people who want to make a difference in our world, it's big enough to garner the attention of those who want to help by offering services and making a profit while doing so.  But it's big enough, complex enough and has enough unique aspects to make it frustrating to understand or even impenetrable to those who don't already know it well.

So following from a presentation last week to one of Canada's largest banks and their "Not For Profit & Public Sector" team, I thought you might want to have at least a few of the sources and links that I provided them.  Here is a short list of the resources, thought provoking reads and issues on our mind that you could use to sharpen your understanding of the non-profit and voluntary sector in Canada and abroad.

  • There's really only one national "voice" for the charitable and non-profit world in Canada, and Imagine Canada's website is the place to go for all of their links, tools and resources.
  • In a sector challenged by limitless demand and (in many cases) diminishing resources, doing more with less is a good idea. Stanford's Social Innovation Review's article on Collective Impact is a great place to delve into this concept.
  • Fundraising is the engine that fuels the good works that charities do, and the best research I know of about retaining donors and what makes donors give is done by Cygnus Applied Research.  Penelope Burk is the founder, and her website is a great resource.
  • As charities seek innovative new ways to raise funds, "revenue diversification" has been a common phrase. If Social Enterprise is one of the diversification options on your radar, or if you've never heard the phrase, the Social Finance Census 2010 is a good place to learn more.
  • For a thought-provoking look at the charitable world and to quickly get up to speed on some of the hot-button issues we face today, I recommend Dan Pallotta's Uncharitable as a good resource.  Not specific to Canada, he nevertheless asks questions that apply just as much here as south of the border.
Finally, I'd like to highlight the willingness to learn and desire to help the Not For Profit and Public Sector that drives the team I met from Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) last week.  Good for you, and thanks for furthering the important work that our sector strives to effect!