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More funding needed to ensure survival of charities and nonprofits

More funding needed to ensure survival of charities and nonprofits


Imagine Canada continues to press for core funding as it welcomes the creation of Emergency Community Support Fund

Toronto,  April 21, 2020 – The $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) announced on April 21, 2020 is a welcome measure that will alleviate some of the pressure on charities and nonprofits engaged in delivering services to  vulnerable Canadians. That being said, the size of the ECSF fund is limited compared to the immense revenue losses charities have, and will continue to experience. Additional support is necessary to cover core operational costs that allow charities to keep their lights on and continue their programming amidst the added challenges COVID-19 presents.

Imagine Canada’s initial projections predict the COVID-19 pandemic will reduce charities’ revenues by between $9 billion and $15 billion, and will lead to more than 100,000 layoffs. As the economic impact of physical distancing and other emergency measures becomes clearer, it seems that those projections are likely optimistic.

Early indications from a survey Imagine Canada is currently conducting demonstrate how precarious charities’ and nonprofits’ financial situation is:

  • Approximately 70% of organizations are reporting a decline in revenues.
  • Nearly two-fifths of organizations have already laid off paid staff or reduced staff working hours. 
  • Another 25% of organizations are considering laying off staff or reducing staff working hours.

This is, quite simply, the most devastating financial situation that charities and nonprofits have experienced, with impacts far more serious and widespread than prior economic downturns such as the one we experienced in 2008-09. The very existence of thousands of organizations is at risk.

The federal government has taken some welcomed steps. Charities and nonprofits can qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy; arts and amateur sports organizations will receive help through funding recently announced for their sector; and organizations providing emergency front-line services have seen new funding (like the Emergency Community Support Fund) to help meet drastically increased demands.

What has been lacking to date is broad-based government support to ensure the survival of charities and nonprofits as a whole. That is why we continue to advocate for a Sector Resilience Grant Program and why we are urging sector organizations to join the effort by sending a letter to their MP. This Program would help organizations affected by the crisis meet their core operating costs and continue to serve communities not just today, but as Canada emerges from COVID-19. Communities are greatly strengthened by charities and nonprofits working in areas as diverse as health, skills training, support for seniors, immigrant and refugee settlement, social services and poverty alleviation, arts and culture, places of worship, environmental protection and stewardship, amateur sport, animal protection, human rights and gender equality, international development, reconciliation, homelessness, and refuge for people fleeing domestic abuse. Our sector is not a ‘nice to have’ part of Canadian life, it is part of the very fabric of Canadian society.   

Significant resources have been invested to help families and individuals deal with economic dislocation, and in ensuring that businesses – regardless of whether they are deemed essential or not – are in a position to resume operations as the public health crisis abates. Charities and nonprofits merit the same consideration and a comprehensive response to their needs.

Imagine Canada
Imagine Canada is a national charitable organization whose cause is Canada’s charities. Our three broad goals are to amplify the sector’s collective voice, create opportunities to connect and learn from each other, and build the sector’s capacity to succeed. | Twitter: @ImagineCanada | Facebook: /ImagineCanada 

For further information:

Émilie Pontbriand
Manager, Corporate Communications
(416) 597-2293 x 319