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Canadians Agree That Charities are Important to Society

(Mar. 20, 2012) In November, 2011, Ipsos Reid, on behalf of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) conducted a Canadian survey on “What Donors Want.”  The good news for the sector is that most Canadians consider charities to be important in filling a gap of needs not being addressed by the public and private sector.  However, a challenge remains in communicating and educating donors about fund allocation.  Many donors fail to make the connection between investing in administration and effective operations, despite having high standards for how charities operate.

“AFP discovered a gap in data on the Canadian nonprofit sector,” explains Pati Greenwood, CFRE, Chair of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada Board. “The fact that money for this project was secured from our chapters and members in a relatively short period of time is testament that people see this as an important piece of work.”

Nice but opinionated

Canadians may be internationally known for our pleasant demeanour, but don’t get us started on our national pastime of hockey or on how our nonprofits should be run; we have strong opinions about both. The Ipsos poll found that -

  • 9/10 Canadians agree that charities should have a strategic plan
  • 86%  agree that charities that address similar issues should work together and share plans and resources
  • More than 80% agree that charities should measure performance and compare themselves to benchmarks
  • 2/3 donors agree that charities should invest in education tools to show their impact on the community
  • Canadians want charity board members to be more than figureheads; they are expected to step up to helping a charity fulfill its objectives and to have a direct frontline connection to fundraising activities 

“Charities are challenged to be able to respond adequately to expectations of the public,” says Nowshad Ali, CFRE, member of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada Board and Chair of the Research Committee. “AFP helps by creating the right type of philanthropic environment – by helping to identify what the philanthropic process looks like and helping people engaged in the activity to elevate the level at which they perform.

Ms. Greenwood agrees, “This dialogue has been going on for a long-time. The Canada Revenue Agency has waded in to try to apply guidance. Organizations like AFP and Imagine Canada are helping to educate the public and provide tools so that charities can learn how to build better relationships with their own donors.”

A thank you is important

And speaking of tools - it’s not just hype. The key to building a strong donor relationship starts with a simple thank you. This survey reinforces that Canadian donors want to know how their donation has made a difference and appreciate a thank you for their contribution.  Just under half of survey respondents indicated that a lack of acknowledgment makes them less likely to donate to that charity again.

And be assured, donors in this country are giving. Seven out of ten Canadians say they’ve made a financial donation to a charity or nonprofit organization in the past 12 months and most Canadians give to more than one cause (some as many as six or more). A notable trend detected by Ipsos Reid is that while the proportion of Canadians who donate has held steady from previous surveys, more donors are giving less.

But Ms. Greenwood notes, “We still have a fairly large proportion of unemployed. I’m not sure if what we’re seeing in this trend is a reflection of the emergence of different types of fundraising.  This is the kind of study that needs to be repeated, to set benchmarks of measurement.”

Mr.  Ali is looking for Canadians to give of themselves in other ways. He muses, “Of the people who responded to this survey, not many were prepared to take on a leadership role on a board. This is an important element to supporting charities in their quest to be good stewards. My hope is that more Canadians will step forward and become engaged in the organizations they are supporting and have passion for.

Full survey results will be distributed after the International Conference on Fundraising. For more information, contact paffairs@afpnet.org



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