Straight to the pool room for this book!*

There is something for everyone interested in the nonprofit sector in a new Canadian publication co-edited by Dr. Susan Phillips, professor at Carleton University, and Bob Wyatt of The Muttart Foundation.  The 36 chapters were written by 52 authors, drawn from the academy as well as sector leaders. No bonus steak knives, but it is all freely downloadable from the web.

Intersections and Innovations: Change in Canada’s Voluntary and Nonprofit Sector

It is the first comprehensive ‘book’ focused on Canadian charities and nonprofits, providing an evidence-based analysis of Canada’s nonprofit and philanthropic sector, identifying issues for sector professionals, policy-makers, and provoking new public conversations. The strong theme is that of change and how the sector can respond. Change trends were already emerging before the accelerator of the COVID pandemic in the form of movements for racial justice and women’s equality, the social media revolution, government’s financing and contracting frameworks, philanthropists’ social impact objectives and the democratisation of giving.

The first group of chapters focuses on accountability and the policy and regulatory environment. Bob Wyatt takes us through the history of Canadian nonprofit regulatory reform and proposes a reform agenda. Kathryn Chan explores the frozen definition of charity and how to thaw it. Susan Manwaring looks down under at Australia for a solution for CRA rules about taxing charities’ business activities. A series of chapters tackle nonprofit governance issues with Imagine Canada’s Standards Program, which is probably the most mature voluntary accreditation system for charities and nonprofits, examined in detail.

The next set of chapters deals with the funding environment for nonprofits. There is a lot covered in these chapters – the intergenerational transfer of wealth, loss of the giving generation and the missing younger generations. Chapters on fundraising with AI and blockchain, social finance tools and impact investing, the role of community foundations, institutional philanthropy, and donor advised funds are full of challenging ideas and proposals.

This is followed by a series of chapters that develop the issues of the ‘people’ of the sector. The issues are not the motivations, quality or commitment of its people, but the effects of changing demographics creating an impending challenge of leadership succession, a diverse population that has been poorly engaged in the sector, the extent of precarious work, and new patterns of volunteering. All this sounds similar to the situation in Australia.

The chapters then turn to examine interdependence between the public and private sectors, and the engagement of nonprofits with members, volunteers, funders, stakeholders, and citizens. Are nonprofits and philanthropy becoming more differentiated by city or region in Canada? What about communities that are not defined by place, but by social and cultural identities, such as in racial, ethnocultural, and minority communities?

A series of chapters develop the intersection with the corporate sector through the delivery of services and engagement in public policy. Most of the trends dealt with in these chapters can be identified in Australia. They include New Public Management, outsourcing, short term contacts, underinvestment in infrastructure, partial cost recovery and impact measurement.

Rounding out the topic coverage are chapters on impact investing, big data, and evaluation by government and philanthropic funders and its communication. Two chapters that should not be missed are Allan Northcott’s (Max Bell Foundation) chapter on how to teach policy-advocacy skills to sector actors and Marcel Lauzière’s (Lawson Foundation) chapter on how foundations can invest in collaboration and people, use their network connections and powers of convening to engage and influence others, and support infrastructure in the sector.

Lastly there are chapters dealing with ‘overhead ratios’ and the ‘starvation cycle’ of underinvestment in critical nonprofit infrastructure.

The project was initiated as one of the projects to mark Muttart Foundation’s 65th anniversary in 2018.

Intersections and Innovations: Change in Canada’s Voluntary and Nonprofit Sector is now freely available via the Muttart Foundation’s website. Users are able to download the full 600-plus-page e-book or individual chapters.  The material has been published under a Creative Commons licence allowing free, non-commercial use.

* For our international readers, the phrase is Australian slang; a repository of treasured objects, saying that something is “going straight to the pool room” means that it is worthy of treasuring and preserving. (From the movie “The Castle”)

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