Foundation report finds Winnipeg’s charitable sector Stressed, Stretched and Still Standing


Findings will influence Foundation’s work in the coming years.

In its report, Stressed, Stretched and Still Standing, The Winnipeg Foundation notes that while commitment and passion are strong, Winnipeg’s charitable sector as a whole is currently stressed and stretched.

The report, released April 11, examines data from 439 Winnipeg-based charities. It takes a closer look at data from Canada Revenue Agency tax filings, and includes findings from an online/telephone survey of Winnipeg charitable organizations and from three focus groups held with executive directors. The report points out that while Manitobans are still the most generous in Canada, the overall number of people making a charitable gift has declined during the past 30 years.

“The Winnipeg Foundation’s community-building work provides sound organization-by-organization understanding of particular projects, often including anecdotal knowledge of unique situations. However, in building our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, we wanted to improve our macro level understanding – our knowledge of overall trends and influences that are impacting the sector as a whole,” says Foundation CEO Rick Frost.

The report includes findings about charities’ service fulfilment, volunteers and staff, Boards of Directors, funding, and partnerships and mergers. It draws several conclusions, including:

  • Most organizations are vulnerable to changes in government funding levels.
  • Larger organizations are able to compensate their employees at a more competitive rate than smaller organizations.
  • It is very challenging for organizations of all sizes to establish a meaningful operating reserve.
  • Organizations, particularly smaller ones, struggle with recruitment and retention of qualified staff.
  • Uncertain funding arrangements make planning difficult and have a negative impact on organizational effectiveness.

Based on the findings, The Winnipeg Foundation is drafting its 2019-2021 Strategic Plan with a focus on:

  • Strengthening the sector by enhancing capacity-building opportunities including professional development.
  • Continuing and potentially expanding our multi-year funding programs.
  • Promoting charitable giving across the province.
  • Supporting the exploration of potential collaborations, mergers and partnerships in the sector.
  • Convening the sector to promote the exchange of ideas and best practices.
  • Looking further into revenue trends with special attention to the discrepancy noted for Indigenous-led organizations.
  • Continuing support for our current Agency Fund program.

The report was released in conjunction with a presentation by Imagine Canada’s Bruce MacDonald about its new report, 30 Years of Giving in Canada. Read more here – National survey finds charities must lessen reliance on aging, affluent donors.

This story is featured in the Summer 2018 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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