By nature, Canadians are a generous lot and reach into their pocketbooks regularly to contribute and donate to an increasingly large number of concerns.
Where does that money, most of which is given from the heart with the best of intentions, really end up? More and more Canadians want to know. The Nanaimo Daily News is going to tell you about where some of it goes.
In Thursday's Daily News we ran an article about non-profits, focusing on the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. There will be other stories like this as we "follow the money" and dig down to see who's doing what, what they're doing it with, and who's doing a good job stewarding their funds. Or not.
The public has a right to know, so our investigative reporters will be asking the tough questions and writing about their findings. Our efforts as a newspaper, as are those of non-profit watchdog group Charity Intelligence, are not to cast a negative light over the fine, heartwarming and hardworking efforts of the myriad of volunteers who put their blood, sweat and tears into raising funds.
Accountability is always a good thing, particularly when dealing with organizations that exist because of the good will of the community.
Shining the light on charitable groups is going to show some stars and scars. We hope it provides some helpful guidelines for future giving.
It was to that end that Charity Intelligence started in 2006 in Ontario after generous donors began questioning how much money was going through nonprofit organizations, and how effective their donations were. The results were shocking as they revealed a new "industry" that is not an industry at all.
What they found was, in some cases, executives make well into six figures. Large percentages of budgets going towards marketing and administration. Small percentages of the funds raised actually go to finding a cure for a specific disease or helping solve a problem. There were also cases of abuse, with little available in the form of checks and balances.
Bri Trypuc, head of donor advisory with Charity Intelligence, stated that "one per cent of charities in Canada are actually taking in about 60 per cent of our annual giving."
CBCF, for example, brought in more than $53 million last year. They have $70 million in reserve. While that may be prudent for a regular business, is it proper to have those donated dollars sitting in a non-profit organization's bank account, not doing what it was designated for? It is important to note that non profit groups, while they may contribute significantly to the well being and lifestyles of a community, are not economic engines. They exist because of the good will of citizens, and take money out of the local economy to spend on various causes.
Non-profits may not be part of what drives the economy, but we can't forget how these organizations benefit volunteers and staff. An analysis of how they are doing financially will assist these organizations to form goals and assess their effectiveness.
Private companies that create products and provide services measure their success by profit. Non-profits face a real challenge not having profits to measure such success - or failure.
The stories of non-profits will follow in the Daily News as a way to help you make a more informed decision about how and where you give.
We want to hear from you. Send comments on this editorial to email@example.com.
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