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Charities meeting the challenge

Across the country, charities and non-profits are making a huge impact every day.
Across the country, charities and non-profits are making a huge impact every day. Although you have probably crossed paths with a number of charitable organizations in your life, some facts about this important sector of our economy might surprise you.

Canada’s charitable and non-profit sector is the second largest in the world. The Netherlands is the largest, while the United States comes in fifth.

There are an estimated 170,000 non-profits and charities in Canada, and half of these (54 per cent) are run entirely by volunteers.

Two million people are employed by these organizations representing 11.1 per cent of the economically active population.

The sector represents $106 billion or 8.1 per cent of the GDP (larger than the automotive or manufacturing industries).

Chances are, you know someone who either works or volunteers with a charity in Greater Victoria. This area alone is home to more than a thousand charities, most of which are actively involved in efforts to improve the quality of life in our region.

For all of these organizations, the bar is constantly rising in terms of expectations. Donors have expectations around governance, transparency and privacy. Government agencies have expectations around fiscal management, information management and proper communications. Board members and other volunteers have expectations around liability, accountability and freedom of information.

As a result of this shifting landscape, it’s important for charities to have access to the tools and resources that allow them to continue to improve and measure up to increased expectations. At the Victoria Foundation, we are focused on ways to build capacity in our region’s charities, and providing good information, tools and resources is a big part of that.

In the past, we have hosted workshops for the staff and board members of charities, featuring leading experts on a range of topics including board governance, financial literacy, employment law and media relations. Our next event is coming up on Feb. 20 on the topic of public-policy involvement by the charity sector.

The seminar will be presented by Imagine Canada, a national organization committed to strengthening Canada’s charities. In this case, the session will provide participants with what they need to know about political-activities reporting, the federal lobbyist registration and engagement in the 2015 federal election.

This is an opportunity for organization board and staff members to learn how they can have a voice on issues of influence to their cause and community. The only ticket local charity leaders need to get in the door is to bring a member of their board.

For more information or to attend the workshop, contact the Victoria Foundation at or 250-381-5532.

Sandra Richardson is the CEO of the Victoria Foundation.

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