Throughout the pandemic, non-profit organizations have stepped up to the plate, despite facing enormous challenges of their own. In support, provinces have been implementing Non-Profit Sector Appreciation Weeks. Jo-Anne Ryan, Executive Director of the Private Giving Foundation and Vice President, Philanthropic Advisory Services, TD Wealth, joins Kim Parlee to talk about the non-profits in our communities and what they wish we knew.
Now, Ontario's first appreciation week started Monday. And joining us to discuss the health of the sector, Jo-Anne Ryan. She's executive Director of the Private Giving Foundation and Vice President of Philanthropic Advisory Services at TD Wealth. Jo-Anne it's always great to have you with us. Non-profit Appreciation Week, as I just mentioned, is new to Ontario just starting this Monday. But it's something that's been happening right across the country.
- Right. So it's actually Bill 9. A private member's bill was passed in December unanimously by all parties in Ontario to celebrate every year the third week of February, and really to appreciate charities, non-profits, and their staff, their volunteers. And the sector is actually larger than many think-- 58,000 charities and nonprofits in Ontario.
They employ over a million people. And as you said, they generate over $50 billion annually to the economy. So this already started in Nova Scotia in 2020. And then, of course, Ontario has adopted it. And the plan is really to roll it out across the country. So it's actually the Viana Family Foundation, the United Way Canada, and the Ontario Non-Profit Network that are behind this incredible initiative.
- When you just said a million people in Ontario, I did not know that. So that's quite an impressive number. And I want to ask you, because you work so closely with so many great philanthropists and charities-- why do you think we need to pause and really celebrate the not-for-profit sector right now?
- Well, for one thing, I think the sector is often overlooked. And we want to celebrate professionals who help people through some of their direst circumstances to actually bring them joy in some tough times. And we all know people that have benefited from this work.
Non-profits and charities are essential to the health and vitality of our communities. And of course, these organizations have been at the forefront of supporting Ontarians during the pandemic. Many of these people are burnt out. This is an opportunity to say, thank you. We appreciate you. The volunteers, the staff, the organizations, you are unsung heroes.
- And you talk about being burnt out. What are some of the other challenges you feel like either people who work in the sector or the sector themselves are having right now?
- Well, basically, throughout the pandemic, many of these organizations have been operating with modifications. Some have been totally shut down. For many, the demand for services has increased, especially food banks, as we know. And it's been difficult to keep up with the demand, and then, of course, further aggravated by COVID reducing the workforce.
So in the social sector, the biggest needs remain food, housing, homelessness, and, of course, mental health has been a huge factor. But we don't want to overlook arts and culture. They rely on ticket sales and events. They have been closed, or shut down, or open partially. So they've had a huge impact.
And so have sports and recreation organizations. They've been closed a number of times or reduced capacity. And they rely on registrations, fees, and sponsorships. So there's really no aspect or no part of the non-profit organizations or charitable sector that have not been impacted as a result of the pandemic.
- I know a number of artists and performers who did things for charities during the pandemic. And, gosh, it was a little it was a little bright light and amongst a whole lot of darkness over the past two years. So you're absolutely right.
You've always been great about talking about how charitable giving can be part of somebody's financial plan and to really be strategic about it. We're coming up against some deadlines right now too. So how do you like to think of it in terms of being part of a plan?
So as you know at TD within wealth management, we encourage incorporating giving or philanthropy as part of financial and estate plans. So that means understanding the tax incentives around giving, such as donating publicly-traded securities to charities, you actually get the tax receipt and eliminate the capital gains. It also involves understanding all of the different vehicles associated with giving.
And so that could be donor-advised funds, securities bequests. And of course, if you can make a financial donation, that's fantastic. But don't overlook volunteering. We all have a bit of cabin fever, so a lot of us are anxious to get out there, use our skills, develop new skills, meet people, join a committee, join boards.
Charities can definitely use our help. And think about really attending your local art gallery or museum-- a great outing out for you, as well as a way to help the organization.
- Yeah. It really is. And the volunteering, and we've always talked about this, a great way to also get to know an organization really well too if you start to make bigger contributions to their cause at the same time. You've highlighted a few that you think could really use some help right now. Any specific ones you want to mention that stand out?
- Sure. You can't go wrong with supporting your local United Way. And they really provide all kinds of help in a number of different areas, including food, mental health, counseling, shelter, and all kinds of vital outreach services. So that would be a good start. Secondly, don't forget arts and culture.
As I said, go to an art gallery, attend a theater production, make a donation, or visit one of these places-- a great day out. And then thirdly, women have been very much impacted by the pandemic. Many have had to leave their jobs, so their careers have been impacted. Some have been actually stuck inside, trapped in violent situations, unable to get out due to lockdowns.
So one organization, which is right across Canada that funds some amazing programs, is the Canadian Women's Foundation. And they enable women and girls to move out of violence and poverty and into confidence and leadership-- all great areas to support.
- Jo-Anne, thanks so much. Great to have you with us. And thanks for telling us about this.
- Thanks, Kim. Pleasure to be here.