June 25, 2024

#11 - Latest Exploratory Research Implies a Need for New Solutions to Persistent Sector Challenges

We're excited to share GIV3’s latest exploratory (qualitative) research among 26 Canadian sector thought leaders about the strategic challenges facing the charity sector in the public domain. The FREE research report can be found at Sector3Insights.com

Spoiler Alert! Here is the big idea: We need to create a new form of leadership outside of government, with independent funding and guided by a strategic plan for the sector.


What are the big takeaways from the research?

The research did not uncover new or different “WHATs” (compared to the Senate Committee Report of 2019). We know most of the issues. We know WHAT needs to be fixed. Our focus now needs to be on the “HOW”. How are we going to achieve the changes and solutions we seek?

Emerging sentiments and ideas are redirecting the narrative:

  • There is a growing sense of a looming crisis.  We need to act with urgency.
  • There is recognition that the charity sector is fragmented, lacks strategic leadership, and is under-resourced to invest in solutions.
  • The consensus is that past and recent efforts to address sector shortcomings have been mostly ignored. The Senate Committee’s recommendations and the numerous calls for a Home in Government (since 1974) continue to go unheeded.
  • There is interest to consider a leadership solution outside of the political ecosystem (as well as continuing to find a home/champion within the Government).
  • There is also broad support for creating  a Strategic Plan for the sector.

This suggests that the “HOW” is to create a new leadership entity outside of government, with independent funding and guided by a strategic plan for the sector.

There is a solution for this, with three related components. It follows a proven approach borrowed from the tire recycling initiative, with practically NO COST to the public purse:  

  1. Establish a Sector Fund, built through small, mandatory grants paid annually by each grant-making foundation to provide ongoing funding to support programs and  resources to build the sector's capacity, scale and impact. This would be calculated based on a very small percentage of investment assets, totaling a sufficient fund across all 10,000+ foundations.  This required grant would qualify as a part of the Disbursement Quota (DQ) and, therefore, not place any extra demands on foundations. The funds would be collected by the Charity Directorate and handed over as described in point 2 below.
  2. Create  a legal entity to receive and allocate the Sector Fund. This entity would not replace current sector leaders nor sit on top as the peak organization. It would serve as a unique resource to support sector organizations in building sector capacity. The governance is to be explored and could, perhaps, be composed of representatives from  provincial networks and national peak organizations, which would elect the board. This entity would apply the Sector Fund following a sector strategic plan.
        This entity would be a network but also a legal entity, with a mandate, an Executive Director, and its own resources (the Sector Fund).
  3. Appoint a Sector Strategy Committee responsible for developing a dynamic, ongoing sector strategic plan which would guide the     deployment of the Sector Fund.

Background: why was this research conducted, by whom?

This initiative began as a series of informal, independent conversations between individuals, including John Hallward (GIV3), Andrew Chunilall (CFC),Steven Ayer (Common Good Strategies), Bruce MacDonald (Imagine Canada), Susan Phillips(Carleton University), and Mark Blumberg, among others. The discussion was about the apparent need for a clear strategic direction for the charitable sector and a belief that a strategic plan would be useful. These individuals also noted that while some valuable strategic work has been completed in recent years, this has not led to significant or sustained solutions to persistent issues.

The discussions led to this specific research initiative, which was considered a helpful first step in exploring and gathering direction about the sector's current strategic needs and appetite for a strategic planning initiative. To be thorough and inclusive, the research included input from a wide variety of sector organizations and thought leaders via one-on-one, in-depth, qualitative research interviews.

The research was funded by GIV3 via an experienced, independent researcher. The intention was to focus on the research implications and pursue a pragmatic path to fruition.

What comes next?

GIV3 will follow up on this exploratory research and test these new ideas with quantitative surveys, among much larger samples, representing (1) the voices of 75,000+ charities and (2) the voices of adult Canadians (taxpayers).

GIV3 is willing to be one agent for change, among other contributors. We will invest in moving these ideas forward and advocating for support in Ottawa. Our target is the 2025 Federal Budget. We invite others to join us.  As readers consider the insights provided in the report, we welcome your reactions and input.  Let’s continue this narrative and be brave enough to innovate.

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