CanadaHelps helps

by Jini Stolk

I’m beginning to budget for my year-end giving, and it was good to be reminded that CanadaHelps, through which most of my donations will be made, is an amazing Canadian, nonprofit entrepreneurial success. It launched its first official site in 2000, and now has over 14,000 charities that rely on it as their online fundraising platform. That’s a big impact.

(Little discussed fact: if you charge your online donations to your credit card, you also rack up points for that much needed winter holiday in Mexico…)

I missed Canada’s first GivingTuesday  this year – it hasn’t quite penetrated to the top of my mind – but I like the concept of providing a counterpoint to the horrible Black Friday and other pre-holiday consumerist frenzies. Did you know it was started by New York’s 92nd Street Y, in another example of a nonprofit entrepreneurial initiative that’s changed the way people think about, and go about, giving.

On a more intimate scale, I was delighted to receive this email earlier in the fall from Linda Griffiths: “This is my very first fundraising venture and I’m finding it very interesting – like the myriad young theatre companies out there, I’m realizing that fundraising increases awareness of a project and that’s what we all need.  Now HeavenAbove/HeavenBelow is on the radar…”

I couldn’t possibly have said it better myself, and I hope that her wonderful show was as successful as it deserved to be.

But a word of caution to everyone raising funds, and pouring energy and creativity into reaching out to people who share their vision and love their work. The New York Times recently noted that  Charity Navigator (probably the largest online U.S. source for evaluating nonprofit groups) is overhauling its assessment and evaluation criteria. The good news is that they’re offering a wider, more nuanced array of information to donors deciding which organizations to help. The caveat is that they’re making these changes because of a growing demand for nonprofits to provide more information about themselves and their impact.

Perhaps this study will help you understand what today’s Canadian donors are looking for.

And on that note: if you are moved to do so, please check out the updated Toronto Community Foundation Community Knowledge Centre profile for the Creative Trust Research Fellowship at the Toronto Arts Foundation. Your support and help would be gratefully appreciated.


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