Non-profit sector approaching ‘perfect storm’

Volunteerism is down, revenue is down while demand for service is up

GUELPH – Volunteerism is facing unprecedented change and challenge at the same time non-profits are looking at decreased revenue and increased demand for service. 

That’s the “perfect storm,” says the People and Information Network (PIN) as it releases the results of its annual Community Benefit Sector Survey.

“More than half of respondents indicate a decrease in the number of people contacting their organization to volunteer” says PIN executive director Kim Cusimano.

“And information clearly shows volunteers are not returning to pre-pandemic levels.”

The decline in volunteers is impacting the ability to deliver programs and services provided by community benefit organizations, Cusimano says.

“Couple that with increased demand for programs and services, increased costs and declines in revenue, and there continues to be significant challenge for the sector.”

According to the survey, 35% of respondents indicate they’ve had to access their financial reserves since the beginning of the pandemic while more than a quarter say they do not have financial reserves.

“Revenue’s down [and]  increasing costs ignite a perfect storm,” Cusimano said.

Recent data from Ipsos for Canada Helps  states that 22% of Canadians say they will access charitable services to meet essential needs such as food, clothing or shelter in the next six months.

Yet despite the need, fewer Canadians (20%) are giving to charities.

“This is a deepening issue for our communities,” says Cusimano.

“The question is – what happens when non-profits and charities cease to exist as a result?”

PIN is putting out a community call to action with its DoGiveShare initiative. Do 20 hours of volunteering; give $20 to a charity; and share this call to action with 20 people. 

And with Giving Tuesday (Nov. 29) fast approaching, Cusimano hopes the two ideas will dovetail.

“Whether giving for you is on Giving Tuesday or throughout the year organizing a food drive at work, purchasing socks for charity, sponsoring a family for the holidays, there are a myriad of opportunities to give not only financially but also by giving your time,” Cusimano says. 

“When you give, you are making a positive impact on the kind of community you want to live, work and play in.” 

There are more than 300 charities in Guelph alone the community could support as well as numerous organizations in Wellington County. 

In addition, PIN’s Holiday Giving Guide outlines opportunities to contribute through donations and volunteering including United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin. 

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