Giving Tuesday: Helping Charities in Challenging Times


Cardus identifies key questions for Canada’s charitable sector.

November 28, 2016

Charity Social Capital Graphic

OTTAWA – Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, which is an excellent reminder that charities are critical to our civil society and face the challenge of change alongside other key organizations in Canada. This is especially true for the numerous smaller organizations that must navigate personnel and funding challenges. The work charities do in counselling, poverty alleviation, education, and many other areas helps promote the common good. These benefits may not always be visible but they are vital. However, in conversation with charities, Cardus has learned these organizations face four major challenges:

  • 80% of the resources charities have come from only 18% of Canadians
  • Only half of Canada’s 86,000 registered charities have paid staff; the rest depend solely on volunteers
  • Organizations with big lobbying budgets, including big charities, unions, and corporations, mean small charities are massively outweighed in advocating for change
  • Canada Revenue Agency audits and information requests can be intimidating for the significant number of small charities

In response to these findings, Cardus is calling for additional research and collaboration to help improve the climate in which charities big and small operate. Key questions that need answers include:

  • How can reporting standards change so that small charities aren’t overloaded, but larger organizations are still held accountable?
  • How can the Canada Revenue Agency collect better information from charities?
  • What new challenges are charities facing in fundraising?
  • How can charities cope with the competitive environment of their sector even when they aren’t designed as competitive bodies?

“Charities are an important part of Canadian life, but like other facets of our society, they face change and challenge,” says Milton Friesen, Social Cities Program Director for Cardus. “We need to find ways to enrich grassroots expressions of charitable work across Canada to increase the common good contributions they are already making.”

To access new Cardus research on charities, please click here.


About the Social Cities Program

The Cardus Social Cities Program tries to find answers to the question: “What makes a great city and how do we get there?” Cities that are enriching for all citizens require that all of the resources within and around them interact as effectively as possible. The complex network of relationships between people, institutions, and culture represents what we call social architecture. We explore the existing social architecture and propose ways in which it might change to better serve the common good.

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus - Director of Communications
613.241.4500 x.508


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.