Troubled times ahead for Canadian charities

Canadian non-profit organizations are facing long-term financial difficulties according to Timothy Brodhead, President and Chief Executive Officer of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, largest Family Foundation in Canada.

“It’s a constant struggle to raise money,” said Brodhead at the Women’s Canadian Club of Montreal last Monday, as he took part in their lecture series, “Reaching for Excellence.”

He expressed concern that the situation may worsen in the wake of tsunami aid efforts, because of dishonest charities that actually profited from the outpouring of generosity. He predicted that media coverage of corruption among charitable organizations would begin shortly.

“Whatever sells” he said.

In the long run Brodhead predicted that such media coverage would cause people to think twice before donating funds for worthy causes. Many may fear that their money would not be properly allocated.

Brodhead went on to stress the importance of non-profit organizations, and accused both Canadian citizens and the government of underestimating the economic value of the voluntary sector. He said that charities represent 19 million volunteers across Canada and the hours of work contributed is an even more radical number.

“The role of these organizations is making our community a better place to live,” said Brodhead, but they can’t do it alone.

Although The J.W. McConnell Foundation has been successful at financing organizations such as Nez Rouge for over 60 years, they need support. He encouraged those in attendence to actively participate in their community rather than just open their checkbook.

Citizens must focus on “giving intelligently,” he said, referring to donors accustomed to giving money as if they were customers. Instead, they should feel like they are a part of a society who acts upon its needs.

Brodhead suggested voluntarily coaching children’s sports or delivering hot meals to the less fortunate as alternatives to monetary donations, citing over 160,000 non-profit organizations in Canada that “need people.” He mentioned that although women were the backbone of the sector during the 60s, many are now choosing to persue paying jobs in the workforce.

“There aren’t a lot of people with extra time,” Brodhead said. “And it’s hard to attract young people.”

Existing employees are getting older, and donors are aging as well.

Yearly reports amongst Canadians organizations are still, however, showing steady results, but Brodhead insisted that the numbers reflect a waning population of increasingly generous donors.

Maintainence of the sector, he said, will depend entirely upon the recruiting of new and highly motivated persons who are interested in preserving their community’s quality of life.

“We must sustain a sense of community in the city,” said Brodhead.

For further information on The Women’s Canadian Club of Montreal and their upcoming events call (514) 933-8067. For more information on the McConnell Foundation visit

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