|JHSA - The Reporter||Spring 2004 Edition|
The Charitable Dilemma – Part 1
[In this, the first of a series of commentaries, Brad Odsen, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Alberta examines an issue impacting charitable organizations across Canada, with particular relevance to those in the human services business, including the John Howard Societies in Alberta.]
it is becoming increasingly difficult for charitable organizations
to access on-going funding for general operational and
administrative uses. Whether the funding source is an order
of government, a Foundation, or a
For human service organizations like
the John Howard Societies, the effective provision of
services requires the use of professional staff; in many
instances, the use of professionallyqualified staff is
a legislative or contractual requirement. The administration/management
of an organization employing professional and support
staff must in turn, necessarily have a certain minimum
level of professional qualification or experience in
human resources management - and that
Oh, and they must also implement the Board policies and, in essence, manage the organization in a prudent, effective, and efficient manner. Few charitable organizations have the resources to employ individuals, let alone departments, for all of these administrative/managerial functions.
sources of funding become more and more
there is another aspect of the now predominant
funding practices that is equally as dangerous
for charitable organizations; as these organizations
become more and more dependent on short term and
project funds for their continued survival, they
necessarily have to become more and more
I do not believe the various
funders intend this as a consequence of their
funding policies; I do not believe that this
But I am convinced that a cumulative outcome of this is that many charitable organizations are put in the position of finding themselves straying further and further away from their primary raison d'etre out of the necessity of accessing funding to continue to survive.
It's past the time for those that support the concept of a healthy and vital charitable sector to re-visit their funding policies and carefully consider whether those policies currently in place are, in the long term, strengthening or weakening the sector.
Having said that however, it's important to acknowledge that the John Howard Society of Alberta has been extremely fortunate (in comparison with many other charitable organizations) in that it has received, and continues to receive, generous support from the Alberta Law Foundation, the Government of Alberta, and the Government of Canada that does recognize the importance of the Society's Mission and Ends, and the need for the administration required to fulfill the Mission and achieve the Ends.
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