Project Background and Rationale
As part of the Voluntary Sector Initiative (VSI), the federal
government and Canadian voluntary sector commissioned the development
of regional inventories to illustrate successful financing and
resourcing practices of Canadian voluntary organizations and to
contribute to the efforts of the sector to improve resourcing.
The development of the inventory was funded by the VSI's Capacity
Joint Table (CJT), through Human Resources Development Canada.
A vibrant and healthy voluntary sector is essential to the continued
development, support, and enrichment of strong communities. For
more than a decade now, the voluntary sector has experienced growing
financial and administrative pressures. There are many reasons
for this and the funding crunch is experienced differently by
different types of organizations. Decreasing resources, more restrictive
funding arrangements, more stringent accountability and reporting
requirements, and increasing needs in communities all affect the
sustainable capacity of organizations to be responsive, flexible
and innovative in their work. Organizations are being asked to
do more with less and to expand their role in our communities.
There is increasing pressure for voluntary sector organizations
to diversify their funding sources, to account in more formal
and diverse ways for their funding, to become more entrepreneurial,
and to establish partnerships to qualify for certain funding.
Not all funding sources are suited to every organization. Organizations
must continually assess the various funding sources and mechanisms
available, and try to incorporate those most appropriate to achieving
their mission. For example, some organizations' issues or campaigns
are particularly well suited to partnerships, while others lend
themselves to government grant funding. Resourcing requirements
may also change over the life of the organization: the funding
mix for an organization in the start-up phase may look quite different
from resources used to support an organization which has served
its community for fifty years. In addition, the shift by many
funders away from longer-term, flexible funding to shorter-term,
restrictive funding has forced organizations to focus more time
and resources on fundraising to support their work.
It is clear that an "effective practice" is not easy
to define or capture. Often a successful program is the result
of a combination of diverse activities. It is also important to
note that the nature of the funding environment in a particular
community or region will affect resourcing practices. These inventories
capture examples of a range of innovative financing and resourcing
practices used by different types and sizes of voluntary organizations
across the country, including: leveraging funds; community support
and collaboration between funders and voluntary organizations;
diversity of funding; reducing costs; building relationships;
being proactive and entrepreneurial; and adapting to change. In
addition, some cases focus on the organization as a whole, while
others highlight a specific program or service of the organization.