Canada’s charitable sector: What to expect in 2022

The Philanthropist Journal asked sector leaders what you need to know in the midst of 2022’s shifts and uncertainties. Here are 12 things they say will be top of mind in the year ahead.

The Philanthropist Journal asked sector leaders what you need to know in the midst of 2022’s shifts and uncertainties. Here are 12 things they say will be top of mind in the year ahead.

Back in March 2020, Casey Prescott, CEO of the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse, was celebrating the theatre’s production of Frankenstein. It was a full house, he remembers, and the audience was “vibrant and appreciative.” Then COVID-19 turned the world upside down. It would be the centre’s last production before a lengthy shutdown – and that wouldn’t be the last of it.

Each shutdown, Prescott notes, is a sort of “dress rehearsal for the future.” The Yukon Arts Centre is now well-practised at shutting down and moving online, and back again. Like so many in the sector, it has learned to be nimble.

“I can’t think in years right now; I can only think in quarters,” says Prescott. His organization had already endured three shutdowns by the end of 2021 caused by COVID-19 surges in the Yukon – the territory has few hospital beds, and arts organizations are often the first to close in response to public health needs – and entered a fourth in January.

In 2022, Prescott expects more upsets and fast pivots. The year to come may well be another volatile one, as the world adapts to the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and pandemic-related uncertainty has once again placed itself at the forefront of many organizations’ agendas. Once again, instability related to funding, personnel, and even the ability to operate are looming concerns.

Shifting contexts are changing the way philanthropy should be done, not just what it chooses to try and address.

Gabriel Kasper, Monitor Institute

At the same time the sector faces operational changes, it’s facing growing pressure for concrete action on huge societal issues that aren’t going away: from the climate crisis to reconciliation and racial justice, and how those issues tie into everything from investing and the rules around non-qualified donees.

“As the world changes around us, the demands on philanthropy are shifting,” says Gabriel Kasper, managing director at the Monitor Institute by Deloitte, the accounting giant’s social-impact strategy wing. “The shifting contexts around the field are really changing the way philanthropy should be done, not just what it chooses to try and address.”

As charities, non-profits, and philanthropic groups navigate these challenges, The Philanthropist Journal looks at the issues and societal shifts that will be top of mind in 2022.

Addressing the financial health of the sector

According to August 2021 data from Imagine Canada, more than four in 10 charities were still reporting declines in revenue, largely attributable to the pandemic and its effects, with the average drop being 44%. There has been help available, meaning many groups have been able to stay afloat despite plunging revenues. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), for example, has channelled more than $4 billion to charities since the onset of the pandemic, according to Imagine Canada.

Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada, cautions that government assistance will come to an end eventually. “When you couple that with the fact that, for the most part, organizations have not yet been able to return to in-person fundraising-type activities – whether it’s door-to-door canvassing, major special events – we’re worried that there is another more stressed time, a more disruptive time, ahead for [charitable] organizations.” Though the full-stop of government pandemic relief is uncertain, as new variants and new lockdown measures emerge, it will come eventually.

“Many in government and the private sector are looking forward to recovery,” MacDonald says. “But with the ending of those supports, and not being able to restart some of those major fundraising initiatives, there could be more significant stress placed on the charitable system.”

Addressing equity and representation issues at the board level and beyond

The pandemic has exposed all forms of social inequality, with the Government of Canada concluding in an analysis of COVID-19 deaths that “gender and sexism, systemic racism, economic inequality and other social determinants of health” have affected a person’s chance of becoming infected with the virus, with death rates being higher in low-income communities and among visible minorities, recent immigrants, and people who speak neither English or French. The Omicron variant may be more indiscriminate, though many jurisdictions have not yet fully assessed its impacts.

These were the “big revealers of the pandemic,” says Jean-Marc Mangin of Philanthropic Foundations Canada, and they will continue to reverberate in 2022. These revelations have big implications for the charitable and philanthropic sectors. “We are not as representative of the realities of Canada and not as inclusive as we would like to be,” Mangin says.

“Philanthropy historically has largely operated in a way that’s kind of insulated from external changes and shifts in the world,” Deloitte’s Kasper says, noting that permanent endowments and reliable asset growth have created lasting stability. But with the pandemic and increasing demands for racial justice throughout society, the sector is being forced to confront larger social issues head-on. “Philanthropy may be insulated from change, but it’s not immune to it. We’ve seen lots of funders suddenly being pushed to change the way they behave.”

A lot of folks are having an identity crisis, brought on by the need to become more responsive to racialized communities within their sector or work.

Jessica Bolduc, 4Rs Youth Movement

That’s leading to increasing work on diversity and inclusion, both in terms of front-line work and internal governance. But some question whether the sector has come as far as it could have.

“A lot of folks are having an identity crisis, brought on by the need to become more responsive to racialized communities within their sector or work. And they’re realizing that what they’re doing is either performative or just not effective,” says Jessica Bolduc, Anishinaabe-French member of the Batchewana First Nation and executive director of the 4Rs Youth Movement.

Boards within the charitable and philanthropic sector have often been criticized for a phenomenon dubbed “snow-capping” – having racialized workers on the front lines while mostly white executives sit in decision-making positions at the top of the organizational hierarchy.

“Philanthropic organizations are primarily still, on aggregate, governed by white Canadians,” says Andrew Chunilall, CEO of Community Foundations of Canada, pointing to a survey released by Statistics Canada in February 2021. The survey found that, of respondents, just 14% of board members in the sector were immigrants to Canada, 11% were members of a visible minority group, and 3% identified as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit.

Mangin cautions that well-established sector organizations need to be willing to take a serious look internally to see “what can be done to be truly more inclusive, at your governance level, at your programming level, and at your staffing level.”

Imagine Canada’s MacDonald agrees. “The seismic shift around anti-racism and anti-oppression issues will continue to transform the DNA of charities and non-profits,” he predicts.

Senator Ratna Omidvar would like to see more consistent reporting on board diversity starting in 2022 and will be calling on the Canada Revenue Agency to add a line asking for an annual disclosure on diversity of boards. This, she says, is in line with what corporate sector boards are required to do every year.

Taking real action on reconciliation

Bolduc of the 4Rs Youth Movement will be looking for concrete action on reconciliation. In 2022, she says, she’ll be watching for a “transformation of the charitable sector … to bring some balance into the flow of money,” so that more Indigenous- and Black-led initiatives and organizations are able to access funding.

Reconciliation has increasingly been on the radar of the sector, particularly as organizations across the country strive to incorporate the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action, released in 2015.

But 2021 was a year like none other, as Canadians from coast to coast were shaken by revelations of the findings of unmarked graves of children on the grounds of residential schools across the country. This has left many grappling with how to do more.

Action in the sector is not always straightforward, with even good intentions having potential negative implications. Bolduc points to how non-Indigenous non-profits may unintentionally crowd out Indigenous-led organizations because they have more experience writing grants and have connections to funders that Indigenous organizations may not.

That, she says, is a form of “non-profit privilege.” The solution isn’t clear-cut, she says, and involves bringing in more Indigenous partner organizations, or simply making space or investing in building capacity for Indigenous initiatives.

Chunilall of Community Foundations Canada points to the Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund, launched in 2020, as a model. The organization, he says, is a first in that it is an Indigenous-led initiative to target funding for Inuit, Métis, and First Nations communities across Canada, particularly in rural and remote areas, with a focus on cultural and mental health, food security, and digital accessibility.

“It fills a void that we’ve had in philanthropy for much too long,” Chunilall says.

Tackling the climate crisis across the sector, not just through the work of environmental non-profits

Next up, says Cathy Taylor of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, is “really thinking about non-profits’ role in emergency preparedness – the pandemic, the forest fires, and other climate-induced crises. Our sector has really filled the gaps and literally filled in the potholes,” she says. “How are we doing that in a proactive way? How are we funded to do that? Are we playing the right role? As we think about future emergencies, I think that’s top of mind for our sector as well.”

Devika Shah, executive director of Environmental Funders Canada, hopes that 2022 will see more concrete action than previous years: “2021 has been a year of a lot of awareness-raising,” she says. “I’m hoping 2022 will be a year of translating that awareness into much more meaningful action.”

More and more funders are now turning their attention to climate change.”

Devika Shah, Environmental Funders Canada

With the appointment of Steven Guilbeault, a long-time environmental campaigner, as minister of environment and climate change, Shah sees a signal from the federal government that “bolder, ambitious climate action is about to arrive.” Guilbeault’s mandate letter, Shah notes, is “perhaps the most ambitious mandate letter of all, with a dizzying list of actions and priorities.”

As federal climate ambition is intensifying, “so too is philanthropic ambition – more and more funders are now turning their attention to climate change,” she says.

Shah foresees an increased “wind in the sails” of environmental non-governmental organizations motivated to take action on topics ranging from a just transition to electric vehicles to green infrastructure, but, she cautions, all of this requires a buy-in from the public. In 2022, she says, “NGOs and funders will start to invest more in the people side of the equation, reinforcing that a cultural shift is underway in our willingness to adopt sustainable ways of living and bear the costs and changes to our ways of living.”

But big changes are in store for groups that haven’t traditionally worked directly in the climate or environment arena, too, and boards across the country are starting to look at inward-facing action on climate change, regardless of whether their group has an environment-focused mission.

Launched in the fall of 2021, the Canadian Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change is a call for philanthropic organizations “to signal their commitment to act on climate change regardless of their respective missions.” The commitment recommends action on everything from where endowments are invested – and shifting to climate-friendly investments – to applying a climate-change and Indigenous-sovereignty lens to granting criteria.

“It’s meant for all funders, regardless of the scope of their work,” Mangin of Philanthropic Foundations Canada says. “Climate change affects all dimensions of society.”

Embracing trust-based philanthropy

In the United States, MacKenzie Scott – whose fortune derives from her divorce from Amazon executive Jeff Bezos – made headlines in December 2020 with her decision to donate nearly US$6 billion to hundreds of charitable organizations. The donations were lauded as an example of trust-based philanthropy by a 2021 Deloitte report. Scott’s donations involved “no grant proposal process, no ongoing reporting requirements, and no naming rights,” the report noted. As the New York Times put it, Scott was “disbursing her money quickly and without much hoopla.”

It seems that more funders may be moving in this direction. Shah of Environment Funders Canada sees 2022 as a year of “moving slowly in the direction of trust-based philanthropy.”

Trust-based philanthropy, says Deloitte’s Kasper, one of the co-authors of the 2021 report that mentions Scott, is “really focused on how funders can begin to develop relationships rooted in the idea of building a relationship and trusting the grantees to do the work and to know what’s best.”

This can mean giving more leeway to grantees on the front lines of the work. “In the midst of COVID … many funders realized, ‘Oh, look, we can quicken the way we do our due diligence on a grantee, and nothing horrible happened,’” Kasper says. “And so they’re beginning to see that … they can operate more on a trust-based relationship.”

Changing the rules around non-qualified donees

In Canada, the conversation around embracing more trust in philanthropy is tied to non-qualified donees.

There may be changes coming, as Senator Omidvar’s bill, the Effective and Accountable Charities Act, passed its third reading in the Senate in December. The bill would amend the Income Tax Act to allow charities to fund non-qualified donees, if they take “reasonable steps to ensure those resources are used exclusively for a charitable purpose.”

The bill has since been retabled and is now in the House of Commons, sponsored by Conservative MP Phil Lawrence. “I hope it will be passed into law in 2022,” says Omidvar, who has been involved in the charitable sector throughout her life. “There is a lot of support for this bill from all sides of the House of Commons,” she says, though she warns that the bill, if it is passed in 2022 without amendments, would not come into force until 2024. The bill, she says, would not mandate trust-based philanthropy so much as alter the way accountability is measured.

As it stands, she says, the rules around allocating funding to non-qualified donees are not only “outmoded” but also an example of systemic racism, forcing funders to form “not a partnership, but a takeover of the project.”

She points to data that demonstrates the inequity of funding to Black- and Indigenous-led organizations. A 2020 study entitled Unfunded: Black Communities Overlooked by Canadian Philanthropy found that grants to Black-led organizations represented a “meagre 0.7 percent of total grants during the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years.” Another 2021 study found that “even though Indigenous people are about 4.9% of the population, Indigenous groups received just over one half a percent of gifted funds.” Omidvar believes this can begin to be addressed by changing the rules around non-qualified donees.

We need to make it as easy as possible for charitable organizations and non-profits to support non-qualified donees.

Jean-Marc Mangin, Philanthropic Foundations Canada

“Inevitably,” Shah says, “there is a correlation between funding non-qualified donees and funding BIPOC-led organizations.” Chunilall agrees, saying the existing frameworks “inhibit money flowing to racialized communities and Indigenous communities.”

“To change the rules is the long-term goal,” Mangin of Philanthropic Foundations Canada says. “But while the rules are in effect, [we need to] make it as easy as possible for charitable organizations and non-profits to support non-qualified donees.” This could involve providing trust-based funding to grassroots community organizations, as has been modelled by the Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund.

As the philanthropic sector continues to increase its recognition of the importance of grassroots organizations, Shah expects funders to employ more and more participatory grant models and other ways of ensuring that funds are making their way to non-qualified donees.

In the meantime, however, many Indigenous communities in Atlantic Canada have been able to register as qualified donees in recent years. According to Richard Bridge, strategic and legal counsel at Ulnooweg, an Indigenous-led group of organizations that promotes welfare of Indigenous communities in Atlantic Canada, the number of Indigenous qualified donees has grown steadily in recent years.

Within this relationship between philanthropy and Indigenous communities, there’s huge potential on every front.

Richard Bridge, Ulnooweg

This has enabled Indigenous organizations and band councils to issue tax receipts for funding to provide a range of social services and infrastructure projects that have often been under-funded. One recent project during the pandemic has enabled the construction of six greenhouses, built with the goal of increasing food security among First Nations communities. Bridge hopes to see more communities take up this model in 2022.

“Within this relationship between philanthropy and Indigenous communities, there’s huge potential on every front,” Bridge says.

Addressing HR issues in the sector

There are bumps in the road ahead when it comes to human resources in the sector, be it aging employees, recruiting, or lack of volunteers.

It’s part of what the federal government has dubbed a “fundamental shift.” According to government data, in 2012 nearly one in seven Canadians was a senior; by 2030, that number will increase to almost a quarter.

Aging has big implications for staffing and volunteers in the charitable sector. “Without immigration, our labour force will be shrinking,” Imagine Canada’s MacDonald says. Since 2009, the aging of Canada’s population has deducted one million workers from the workforce, according to a recent report from the Royal Bank of Canada, which concludes that immigration is a solution to help “replenish” the labour force.

This will continue to push the conversation forward on how the sector can be more inclusive of the thousands of new Canadians who arrive here every year.

At the same time, there are “storm clouds on the horizon” when it comes to the sector’s ability to attract and retain talent, according to MacDonald. He expects that a competitive hiring environment will mean “significant disruption” for the sector in 2022 – this at a time when inflation is on the rise and workers are seeking adjustments in salaries to compensate.

It could be a very challenging period from a talent perspective.

Bruce MacDonald, Imagine Canada

“Our private sector colleagues are now upping their games significantly,” he says, pointing to companies like McDonald’s that now offer signing bonuses of up to $1,000, along with tuition credits and extensive health benefits. “If private-sector firms are now competing fiercely with each other to attract and retain talent, they’ll start to pour resources and offers into that that we as a sector can’t match,” he says. “It could be a very challenging period from a talent perspective.”

The problem isn’t limited to staff.

As Taylor points out, 61% of organizations the Ontario Nonprofit Network surveyed this past summer reported having lost a significant number of volunteers since the onset of the pandemic, with arts organizations, faith groups, hospitals, post-secondary institutions, and sports groups facing the biggest drop.

Getting people back out onto the front lines – whether staff or volunteers – will be at the forefront of many organizations’ plans this year.

Addressing the sector’s data – and data analysis – gap

Data is a big conversation of late and will continue to be in 2022. The charitable and philanthropic sector will increasingly be part of this conversation.

As Susan Phillips, professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University, has pointed out, improving the collection of data about the sector at the government level would have myriad benefits, from enabling more informed giving decisions by donors and philanthropists to avoiding duplicate funding and enabling data-informed research and innovation.

Phillips notes that while a Special Senate Committee recommended in 2019 that Statistics Canada collaborate with the charitable and philanthropic sector “to collect and share data in a timely and consistent manner,” the responsibility for carrying that out will also rest with other governments and the sector itself. While Phillips would like to see the government invest in the big household surveys it does well, she’d also like to see investment in data coming from the philanthropic sector itself.

“What I would expect to see is that some of the foundations come together to make their own investment,” she says. “Rather than wait for government, they’re stepping up to fill the void to collect the kind of data that the sector needs.”

And data itself, Phillips says, is not enough. In 2022, she hopes to see a greater investment in data analytics. With so much talk about the data deficit, organizations need to be willing to invest in the skills, she says.

There’s little point, Phillips adds, in “just having the data without the ability to turn that data into useful analysis tools for the sector.” Phillips is working on building a data centre – the Centre for Philanthropy and Charity Data, housed at Carleton University – to make that happen.

With increased digitization, data collection and analysis should continue to be more widespread in 2022, and it will increasingly be used to inform decision-making – from funding to impact.

Continually pushing for a home in government

The charitable and non-profit sector contributes more than 8% of total Canadian GDP – similar to that of the value of mining and oil and gas extraction – making it no small player in the Canadian economy. Despite this, the sector has continued to struggle with representation in government.

“Nationally and, in fact, in most provinces, there isn’t a department or home in government for the non-profit sector,” the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Taylor says, pointing to portfolios like those of the minister of small business as a model for a charitable sector portfolio.

With some governments starting to turn the tide, as the BC provincial government did in late 2020 with the announcement of a parliamentary secretary for community development and non-profits, the sector is hopeful others will soon take note.

Despite this, there aren’t any clear signals in federal mandate letters that a home in government is imminent, according to Imagine Canada’s MacDonald. “We will continue to work with other organizations to press for the creation of a dedicated home in government for our sector in the upcoming spring budget,” he says.

Embracing the ‘hybrid model’

For Katherine O’Neill, chief executive officer of YWCA Edmonton, there has been a “huge silver lining” to COVID-19, at least as far as how it forced her organization to pivot. “COVID-19 forced everyone to rethink everything you do,” she says. “That’s turned out to be a really good exercise.”

The pandemic has brought about huge changes, both internally and externally. For YWCA, some are here to stay. The 115-year-old organization now offers counselling services online, for example – a change that led to an uptick in what it was able to offer in 2020 and 2021. The virtual service delivery is not going anywhere, according to O’Neill, who points to how online offerings mean the YWCA’s clients – the vast majority of whom are women – don’t need to worry about parking or babysitters. Looking forward to 2022, they’re planning a hybrid model. “The not-for-profit sector needs to be modern, and it needs to be modernized,” she says.

Hybrid models are cropping up not just in services, but in offices too. YWCA Edmonton will finally reopen its office in early 2022, though the majority of its staff will still work from home, given the current state of the pandemic. But the way the office runs has changed. The organization aims to be entirely paperless by 2023; everything from payroll to fundraising has moved online.

Embracing the virtual world doesn’t mean in-person events and services are over, however. YWCA Edmonton held its first in-person fundraiser, the Rose Campaign event, in December 2021 – more than doubling their original fundraising goal at the in-person event. “People are tired of online events, but they won’t go away entirely,” O’Neill predicts, noting that though the fundraiser was in-person, volunteers met online every week to plan the event, something that makes a volunteer commitment much more manageable.

While some organizations have seen some benefits to the pandemic-necessitated shift to digital, many still look forward to a return to widespread in-person events and programming.

Organizations like Bolduc’s 4Rs Youth Movement have also made the shift, but Bolduc worries there’s a degradation in engagement when virtual meetings are prioritized. For an organization that focuses on face-to-face cross-cultural conversations between youth to create “brave spaces to raise awareness and change the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people,” losing face-to-face interactions was a problem. The group rose to the challenge, but Bolduc worries that funders will lose sight of the importance of in-person meetings and that funders and government will prioritize the wrong adaptations. “Yes, we can do things online, and yes, we’re saving money on travel. But we’re seeing how much people are disengaging. … What I don’t want to see coming out of this is reducing budgets for travel.”

In 2022, we’ll start to see digital transformation being treated as a sector imperative, not just an organizational challenge.

Katie Gibson, CIO Strategy Council

While she and others acknowledge that having an online option can increase accessibility for some, she hopes the pressure to pivot to digital doesn’t become a permanent shift post-pandemic.

That’s where the so-called hybrid model of the future comes in, according to Katie Gibson, vice-president of strategy and partnerships at the CIO (Chief Investment Officer) Strategy Council. In 2022, she says, “we’ll start to see digital transformation being treated as a sector imperative, not just an organizational challenge.”

Going forward, she expects to see new approaches geared to the hybrid model, such as “a foundation funding all of its grantees to participate as a cohort in a digital-transformation training program or investing in sector-wide tools, platforms, or infrastructure.”

“There’s definite interest,” she says of this more sector-wide approach. “The interest is absolutely growing.” Not only that, but she foresees a “second wave of digital adoption” soon. “A lot of organizations began virtual delivery and adopted tools for work-from-home under duress when the pandemic hit,” she notes. “Now some are seeing that these tools won’t serve their needs going forward, and they will be reassessing.”

Gibson also expects to see more non-profits look to hire for technology-based roles, citing examples like Kids Help Phone hiring its first CIO. “We’re already starting to see these kinds of roles being carved out,” she notes, adding that the pandemic has accelerated the shift.

Rethinking the way endowments and allocations are handled

There will continue to be an ongoing debate over the disbursement quota – the minimum amount that funders are required to allocate to charities each year. The federal government recently undertook a round of consultations to gather feedback on whether the current quota – 3.5% – is adequate. The results of these consultations could result in some movement this year.

“Our sense is that the government will continue its work of evaluating the submissions,” Imagine Canada’s MacDonald says, adding he expects the government to “seek to include a recommendation or some recommendations in the spring federal budget.”

At the same time, the endowments and investments of philanthropic organizations are increasingly under scrutiny, due to what Chunilall of Community Foundations of Canada dubs “an alignment issue,” particularly when it comes to whether investments are climate-neutral.

“We [in philanthropy] have been involved in the creation of wealth with a primary purpose of economic growth. And then we use that wealth to resolve the issues that created the wealth in the first place,” he says. “That’s the paradox. That’s the thing that’s on my mind in 2022: how do we resolve that paradox going forward?”

We’re coming face to face with a reckoning that a lot of our investments have not considered, measured, or tracked our impact on the ecology that we live in.

Andrew Chunilall, Community Foundations of Canada

Kasper uses the analogy of a group working to improve healthcare while simultaneously having its money invested in tobacco; now, for many, the issue is climate. Funders, he says, are increasingly pressured to ensure their investments aren’t contradicting their granting. This includes a big push to decarbonize the holdings of funders, including ensuring funds are ethically invested and climate-neutral, according to Paul Nazareth, vice-president of education and development at the Canadian Association of Gift Planners. “It’s exciting that these things are no longer a choice,” he says.

“All of us – philanthropic organizations – we’re investors,” Chunilall says. “We’re coming face to face with a reckoning that a lot of our investments have not considered, measured, or tracked our impact on the ecology that we live in.”

As private institutional investors pick up the pace of divesting from fossil-fuel-intensive projects, the philanthropic sector will face more pressure to do the same in 2022. Environmental, social, and governance factors have increasingly become a big consideration for North American investors, Kelly DePonte, managing director at Probitas Partners, told Bloomberg in July. Investors in private equity, like pension funds, he said, “are moving away from investing in oil and gas no matter the returns in pursuit of their carbon neutral goals. … Though this is small right now, it is growing.”

Nazareth says this will extend to philanthropy. “Now, donors and funders will be asking not just how is this money going to affect your mission, but while it’s sitting on your books, is it ethically invested? Are your operations climate-neutral? Or climate-beneficial? There’s going to be a lot of questions,” he says.

Embracing local partners in international cooperation

In 2022, Gloria Novovic, a scholar and practitioner in international cooperation and development, hopes the term “international aid” will finally be put to rest, along with its paternalistic associations, in favour of more progressive terms – and practices – like “assistance.”

“There has been a lot of very sincere and very ambitious work many organizations have committed to. This year will be the crucial year when those commitments and those strategic objectives are really translated into coherent organizational plans in ways that are participatory, bring all stakeholders to the table, and really ask those questions about how these commitments will be pursued,” she says. Novovic is looking toward more granting models that provide “long-term, flexible, predictable funding” for partner organizations with the local, on-the-ground knowledge to implement positive programming for communities.

Collective advocacy has never been more important. We just can’t tackle all the issues without working together.

Cathy Taylor, Ontario Nonprofit Network

With the release of federal mandate letters in December 2021, it’s clear that Canada is increasingly moving in the direction of providing support to on-the-ground and grassroots organizations in international settings. This is evident in the mandate of Minister of International Development Harjit Sajjan, where, according to Novovic, there is a “clear commitment to greater support for local actors.”


In 2022, we can expect to see increased action being taken on long-considered issues. Reconciliation and the climate crisis are not new. Nor are the need for data and a home in government. As organizations increasingly adapt to the new reality of COVID uncertainty, grappling with these issues will be front of mind – out of necessity. Increasingly, this will mean sector-wide collaboration.

“Collective advocacy has never been more important. We just can’t tackle all the issues without working together,” says the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Taylor. “I think that will be a real priority for the sector overall heading into 2022.”


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