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Results of Canada’s 41st Federal Election Offers Charitable Sector Opportunity to Re-engage Parliament

(May 10, 2011) AFP members now have a great opportunity to communicate with lawmakers in Canada about important legislation affecting nonprofits as a result of the May 2 federal election.

We urge you to meet with newly elected (as well as incumbent) Members of Parliament (MP) and, where applicable, local Senators.

Bill S-203 that would have established National Philanthropy Day® (NPD) and Bill C-470 that would have affected nonprofit compensation both died on the order paper when the federal election was called on March 26.  It is hoped that the NPD legislation will be reintroduced soon after Parliament reconvenes in the coming weeks.

Your efforts are key to educating our elected officials and addressing misconceptions about the sector while raising the visibility of AFP and the fundraising profession as a whole.

When meeting with MPs, Senators and/or their staffs, you might find the following talking points helpful.

Talking Points

  • Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.  I am here as a constituent and an employee of [name of your organization and its mission], as well as a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, also known as AFP.
  • AFP is the largest community of fundraising professionals in the world.  It represents 30,000 members in 222 chapters throughout the world, including 3,100 members in 16 chapters across Canada.  Our mission is to advance ethical and responsible fundraising and philanthropy through research, education and certification programs.
  • Building on a record of recent success, our key message is that AFP members are keenly interested to provide our expertise and experience to Parliament on any issue relating to the charitable sector.
  • Over the past few years, administrative costs (including fundraising expenses) and nonprofit compensation (recently considered in Bill C-470) have been suggested as effective baseline indicators of nonprofit performance and transparency.
  • AFP contends that attempts to create simplistic indicators such as these are far too misleading and overlook other equally important elements of nonprofits such as the use of commission-based compensation (which is prohibited in the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards), the size of the charity, charitable causes with limited appeal and the organizations' internal fundraising evaluation processes.
  • Unfortunately, the charitable sector has been placed under greater scrutiny due in a large part to some well-publicized accounts of wrongdoing by a select number of nonprofits.  We think that these wrongful acts are quite rare and the exception to the rule, but we nevertheless support transparency and ethical behaviour, exemplified by the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards that each of our members must sign and abide.
  • When legislative or regulatory changes affecting the nonprofit sector are proposed, we urge you to consider taking a broad view.  The charitable sector is complex, and one-size-fits-all approaches often fail to acknowledge that complexity.
  • We again offer our expertise and experience to Parliament on legislative and regulatory matters relating to the sector and would welcome a collaborative relationship with you and your staff.
  • Again, thank you for your time.

Meetings Feedback

Over the next couple of weeks, all MPs will be sworn into office and the official list of the 41st Parliament will be made public on May 24.  Following the publication of the list, which AFP will provide, we strongly encourage you to meet with your MP and/or Senator and when you do, please let us know, so we can keep a record of who has been contacted for future reference.  We believe that this will enable us to foster a stronger collaborative framework with as many MPs and/or Senators as possible.  If you are unable to set up a meeting, please consider sending a letter with the points mentioned above.

UPDATE: Feedback needed from AFP members to improve Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Fundraising Guidance

As we mention in the talking points, AFP has built a strong working relationship with the CRA.  Through Andrea McManus, CFRE, our chair, AFP has been invited to provide the CRA with feedback on and potential improvements to the fundraising guidelines.  We would welcome any comments from you regarding areas where the guidance could be improved.  Alternatively, you can also let us know which parts of the guidance are working well.

We thank you in advance for your input.

If you have any input regarding meetings with elected officials or the CRA fundraising guidelines or if you have any questions, please contact Jason Lee, AFP's general counsel, at jlee@afpnet.org or Ken Mayhew, chair of the AFP Canadian Government Relations Committee, at Ken.Mayhew@mssociety.ca.



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