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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Funding Policies and the Nonprofit Sector in Western Canada

Peter R. Elson

There is mounting fiscal and accountability pressure across Western Canada to create program efficiencies and align policies to increase effectiveness, particularly in relation to the delivery of community human services by nonprofit agencies. At the same time, economic growth, particularly in Alberta and Saskatchewan, has brought other unique challenges to the fore, including increased rates of income inequality and strains on the social fabric of communities.

What everyone should know: 

Serious change: Excluding hospitals, colleges and universities, government funding to nonprofit accounts for more than 30% of nonprofit revenues and is in the order of $9 billion ($2.7 billion in Alberta).

Serious size: There are more than 50,000 nonprofit organizations in Western Canada of which about 10% (5,000) are social service organizations directly engaged in delivering services to communities.

Serious relationships: Funding relationships in the nonprofit sector in Western Canada are characterized by demands to demonstrate impact in programming and funding (Alberta); reinvented and more integrated contracting models (Manitoba); emerging forms of community mobilization (Saskatchewan); social innovation and new business models (British Columbia)

Myth busters:

Location doesn’t matter Indeed it does. Street level bureaucracy is alive and well and in this edited book, funding and relational variations across ministries and across departments within the same ministry are profiled (Chapter10).

In real life, David doesn’t beat Goliath: If you believe this, you need to read the profile of the provincial lottery fund in Saskatchewan (Chapter 8) and funding policies for nonprofit housing in BC (Chapter3).

Productive funding relationships are hard to find: Every province in Western Canada has examples of exemplary partnerships that are mutually supportive and community enhancing. The Alberta Mentoring Partnership is but one example (Chapter6).

Peter R Elson, PhD is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration, University of Victoria and Senior research Fellow, Institute for Community Prosperity, Mount Royal University. He is editor of the newest publication in the IPAC Public Management and Governance series, Funding Policies and the Nonprofit Sector in Western Canada.

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