What’s in Store for Philanthropy in 2012?
“Times they are a changing,” Bob Dylan.
This past year it seems that we have discovered philanthropy. We always knew that people gave to causes they cared about. We always knew that we could help others by donating our time and skills. We always knew that there were organizations focused on charitable works. But it seemed that the charitable sector was always the quiet one.
This past year, charitable giving has attracted much more attention. I have seen articles covering a broad range of topics including: the future of volunteerism in Canada, the need to legislate salaries for executives in the not for profit world and, how to protect yourself from solicitations by unscrupulous charities. As a measure of increased interest in the sector, The Globe and Mail published an excellent series of articles in October about the evolution of philanthropy. The Globe now runs a regular column written by Craig and Marc Keilburger.
Where in times past we decided on which charities to give to based on our own experiences, we now trust organizations like Charity Intelligence Canada and GuideStar (US) to tell us which charities that ask us for donations are the most effective.
So why are times in the charitable sector changing? I will put two reasons forward. The first, I suggest, is that the need for the work of the charitable sector is more visible that it ever was before. The effects of the economic troubles together with the reporting of the many natural disasters that have overtaken us in the past several years have put the need for charity vividly before us.
The second is that we now realize how big the charitable sector in Canada is. Charity has become big business and continues to grow. The upside to the growth is that there are more funds available for the sector to work with. The downside to the growth is that the sector attracts more people preying on our good intentions.
So what is to become of the charitable sector? For those of us who work in charities, we know that we need to be more efficient and more effective as we look to what we do. Our donors expect us to be duly diligent.
However, I also see that we are still being driven by our sense of responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing of those around us. Charities will continue to be the solid third pillar in our society.
So with deference to Bob Dylan, my final thought is this. While times today continue to change, the core philanthropic values that have motivated us in the past remain in place. We will continue to support the many good works the sector does.
Best wishes for 2012!
Glenn Stresman is the Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation and has over 20 years experience in both writing and evaluating grant applications.
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