Disaster relief squeezing charities: new study

TORONTO, Dec. 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Canadian companies donate generously to help those coping with natural disasters and community tragedies, but few are increasing budgets to meet these unexpected needs, according to a new study from Imagine Canada.

The Corporate Giving in a Changing Canada study finds that, while eight-in-ten companies gave funds to help communities deal with extreme crises, only 19 per cent increased their community investment budgets. A third elected to re-direct funds originally allocated to other charities, and 48 per cent drew funds from community investment budgets dedicated to disaster relief.

Of the 54 leading companies studied, 84 per cent gave funds to at least one major crisis in the past three years. An additional 58 per cent raised money from employees, while 30 per cent donated goods and 24 per cent raised funds from customers.

According to the study, disasters and crises most commonly supported in the past three years include:

  • Fort McMurray wildfires (supported by 65 per cent of the corporations canvassed)
  • Humboldt Strong (50 per cent)
  • British Columbia Wildfires (39 per cent)
  • Flooding in Eastern Ontario and Quebec (33 per cent)
  • Support for Syrian refugees (26 per cent)
  • Toronto Van attack (20 per cent)
  • Opioid Crisis (4 per cent)

Corporate Canada is acting to help communities impacted by unexpected emergencies. The not-so-good news is that many companies are inadvertently diverting funds from charities and nonprofits they traditionally support.

Demand for essential services from charities and nonprofits is projected to spike over the next decade, creating a “social deficit” as needs go unmet. Based on current demographic trends and average GDP growth of 1.8 per cent (source: Parliamentary budget office and Conference Board estimates), Canada’s charities and nonprofits will need about $25 billion more than they raise today to meet rising demand for their services.

Unless corporations create new budgets for disaster relief, climate change will increase the social deficit and put further pressure on social services Canadians want and have come to rely upon.

“Climate change is making extreme natural disasters the norm rather than the rarity, and the frequency and ferocity of these crises is only going to accelerate,” says Bruce MacDonald, Imagine Canada’s president and CEO. “The good news emerging from this study is that corporations are increasingly intentional and thoughtful about their charitable giving. Our hope is that business leaders will recognize the threat and build in budget allowances for disaster relief to avoid the unintended consequence of hurting organizations that rely on their support.”

The corporations studied invested more than $443 million in communities in the past year. 42 per cent indicated their community investments would increase in the coming year with 8 per cent predicting a decrease.

Community investment trends:

  • Corporate community investment activities are increasingly strategic and focused on business and social value. This involves greater emphasis on measurement and a highly organized approach to improving outcomes for the cause being served. Key business benefits cited by corporations are: improved employee retention and recruitment; improved customer relationships and stronger brand identification with social value
  • Direct giving from companies is essential to the health of charities and non-profits, particularly for non-religious organizations. In 2014, corporations gave $4.2 billion to charities (Source: Lasby & Barr, 2017), almost all of which went to non-religious causes
  • Companies are leveraging stakeholder support (employees, suppliers, customers) to magnify their impact on communities and causes. Virtually all corporations surveyed encourage volunteerism. Ninety-two per cent give staff paid time to volunteer; 82 per cent have a corporate day of volunteering, and 40 per cent maintain online lists of volunteer opportunities

The study examined the community investment programs of 54 leading Canadian corporations. Nearly all are participants in community investment programs, associations, and networks, including the Imagine Canada Caring Company movement, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR), LBG Canada, the Conference Board of Canada’s Community Investment Council, and the Business Council of Canada.

The full study is available online at: http://imaginecanada.ca/communityinvestment

Imagine Canada
Imagine Canada is a national charitable organization whose cause is Canada’s charities. Our three broad goals are to amplify the sector’s collective voice, create opportunities to connect and learn from each other, and build the sector’s capacity to succeed. Corporate community investments are an integral part of Imagine Canada’s vision for a vibrant and strong charitable sector. Imagine Canada’s Caring Company designation encourages companies to adopt a leadership role as investors of 1% of pre-tax profit into stronger communities.

www.imaginecanada.ca | Twitter: @ImagineCanada | Facebook: /ImagineCanada

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Dave Bennett                                     
Xposure PR