Faculty members in the MPNL and DPNL programs are part of research teams in Canada and around the world. Below are seven recent initiatives.

1) The Charity Insights Canada Project—Projet Canada Perspectives des Organismes de Bienfaisance

CICP-PCPOB is supported by the Muttart Foundation, Lawson Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, and an anonymous donor. (Pour le français veuillez continuer ici.)

Led by Dr. Paloma Raggo, assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration, with Dr. Susan Phillips as CICP-PCPOB’s policy lead.

Through weekly surveys, this five-year, $3.4 million research project will collect and share information about the Canadian charitable sector. The data generated will support the long-term economic viability, impact and resiliency of the sector by assisting policymakers in making evidence-based policy decisions, developing data capacity for practitioners, and expanding knowledge of Canada’s philanthropic and nonprofit sector. For more information, including in French, please visit CICP-PCPOB.

2) Strategies for enhancing the financial sustainability of Canada’s charities

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant, 2018-022.

Susan Phillips, Nathan Grasse (Carleton University), Julia Carboni (Syracuse University), Iryna Khovrenkov (University of Regina), Tracey Lauriault (Carleton University), Jesse Lecy (Arizona State University) and Michael Lenczner (Ajah), with Christopher Dougherty.

Why are some charities more resilient to economic uncertainty than others? How can charities adapt to survive short-term fluctuations and long-term structural shifts in their funding environments? This study, begun before the COVID-19 pandemic, analyzes the dynamics of financing, networks and competition across subsectors of Canada’s charitable sector using  annual tax return (T-3010) data. The research team has built a cleaned version of the T-3010 database of 86,000 charities from 2000-2017 that upon completion of the project will be available to other researchers. The project is producing a number of papers and reports.

3) The effects of unrestricted funding on charities

One component of this study, with support from PhiLab (with a SSHRC-funded partnership grant) and in collaboration with United Ways, examines the effects of unrestricted funding on charities. We ask: does unrestricted funding lead to innovation or inertia by recipient organizations?

4) Nonprofit long-term care

The devastating impact of COVID-19 on residents of long-term care (LTC) homes has reinvigorated longstanding calls to end for-profit ownership of LTC facilities, and transfer responsibility to the nonprofit sector. How financially robust is the nonprofit LTC sector? In this study, we assess the financial health of nonprofit LTC homes, focussing on Ontario, and investigate differences among homes by age, size, religious/ethnocultural affiliation, and accreditation status. Led by PhD student Lisa Halpern, with Susan Phillips, Nathan Grasse and Allan Maslove (Carleton University).

5) The responses of foundations during COVID-19

Philanthropic Foundations of Canada; Carleton University COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund

Susan Phillips, Paloma Raggo, Kristen Pue and Callie Mathieson.

This study followed a panel of 24 leaders of private, community and corporate foundations in Canada for a year beginning in May 2020 to assess how their organizations responded to the pandemic (and then its convergence with the racial justice movement). We examined the evolution of foundation responses using an iterative, online delphi process, with sessions held every six weeks (and reports provided to panelists at the end of each session). Publications from this project are in process.

6) Models of cross-sector leadership

Muttart Foundation and Max Bell Foundation.

Susan Phillips with PhD student and MPNL alumnus Christopher Dougherty, and Postdoctoral Fellow Megan Conway, with the assistance of MPNL student Hannah Van Hofwegen.

The Muttart Foundation and Max Bell Foundation have initiated and supported a study and consultation on how Canada’s charitable and nonprofit sector might develop stronger cross-sector leadership so as to be effective participants in public policy and increase public awareness and understanding. Download the study here: Enhancing Policy Leadership for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector, A Conversation Starter, Nov 2021, By Phillips et al. It identifies the strengths, shortcomings and tradeoffs of different models of sector leadership based on the international research literature and on experiences in Canada and elsewhere. It then poses a series of questions as a guide for sector leaders to assess how they would like to build and engage with a new leadership mechanism.

7) Disaster Philanthropy: An edited book to be published by Policy Press in 2022

Co-edited by Alexandra Williamson (Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Queensland University of Technology), Diana Leat (Centre for Philanthropy and Public Good, University of St Andrews) and Susan Phillips (MPNL program, Carleton University)

Disasters, whatever their cause and wherever they occur in the world, attract generosity from the public, corporations and philanthropic foundations to alleviate effects in the short term and help build more resilient communities over the longer term. But, managing the inflow of money, goods and time and then distributing those efficiently and effectively isn’t straightforward, as the countless media criticisms after every disaster illustrate. This book identifies some of the challenges in making best use of the philanthropic response to disasters and considers areas for improvement. Drawing on international examples, as well as advancing new conceptual approaches, it critically assesses the commonalities and themes in efficient and effective disaster philanthropy, with a focus on priorities for the future.

Photo credits: Parliament (Robbie Palmer); calculator (Stellrweb); two people (Katarzyna Grabowska); protestors (Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona); and kangeroo with burned trees (Jo Anne McArthur).