Last week, we celebrated a huge milestone at CanadaHelps: 15 years of operation. We decided this called for a little celebration, and I was thrilled to spend an evening with the CanadaHelps Staff, Board of Directors, our Founders, some of our charity clients, and numerous friends and supporters of CanadaHelps. It was a wonderful evening, and I left feeling inspired about the future of CanadaHelps, and the role we play in the charitable space in Canada.
Recently at CanadaHelps, we did some self-reflection. We asked ourselves whether what we do is still needed and relevant. We asked these questions of ourselves, but also asked our charity partners, Canadians who use our platform to donate to or engage with charities, and also our sector partners: What do they think is the role we play, what needs or problems do we solve, what is the best way in which CanadaHelps can contribute to the collective strategic agenda of the charitable sector in Canada. Upon asking these questions, we were happy to see that there was so much synchronicity and consonance around some themes that also resonated with us.
At CanadaHelps, we envision a world where our civil society is strong and we are all committed to giving and participating in the charitable sector.
We want to see a world in which more Canadians have deeper insight about charities and their collective impact, and see charities as essential and vital for the health and future prosperity of our local and global communities.
Charities build communities; they don’t just “service” them. We are a very generous nation, one of the most generous in the world, but we feel that many Canadians still don’t understand the charitable sector fully. We want Canadians to stop evaluating charities based on how much money the charity spent on itself, and to start looking at the impact charities make today, but even more importantly,the impact that they can make in the future. We want Canadians to clearly see the need to invest into charities’ ability to grow and solve problems, and to further see that investment as essential to create a more just, compassionate and equal world.
And because of this desire, we also envision a world in which every charity, regardless of size, has the capacity to increase its impact. We are big capacity-building believers at CanadaHelps and we particularly believe in the power of technology to be a driver of social change and equalizer of opportunity, on many different levels.
But we also see a danger of having technology ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in the charitable sector and of the charitable sector simply not being able to leverage all that technology has to offer – from more efficient operations to cultivating the next generation of donors, ones who grew up with technology.
The world of fundraising is changing and the need for CanadaHelps is greater than ever before.
In 2000 it was about being able to donate online. The digital world has been raising the bar, especially in the last several years — and we are expanding and elevating our tools and educational services to be leading the way, with a sense of urgency and mission.
We want to see all charities, regardless of their size, have access to the best, most effective online fundraising tools, to social technology, to data, insights and most importantly to know-how. We think this is so critical for their future.
Maybe building capacity and being “an infrastructural organization” is not the most instantly appealing thing in the world, but it’s huge in our world, and we feel immensely proud to be serving donors and charities in this manner. To me, capacity building is the only thing that really matters, across the board. Capacity building for me means EMPOWEREMENT.
When we help one charity raise more funds, learn about best practices, better its digital infrastructure, communicate its story more effectively, engage more donors, use technology to save time and money – we see it as an important step toward the world we want to see.
The work we do at CanadaHelps is one step removed from direct impact – but we see every day how what we do leads to better outcomes. After all, when a charity increases its capacity to generate more funds, to be more sustainable, to grow out from living hand to mouth, month to month, that charity is in a far better position to scale its problem-solving, for the people or issues it is serving, weather it’s providing safe shelter and counselling for women who are victims of violence, or, delivering healthy food and food education to communities and schools.
We exist so that more environmentally sensitive lands, and waters, can be preserved for future generations; so that there is even more free books and literacy support for low-income children; so that food banks, and community food centers can continue their fight against food scarcity; so that many critical international missions and initiatives, whether it’s a support for orphaned or sick kids, access to small loans, or building homes and schools can go on, so that more dogs and cats are rescued from abuse and neglect, and more guide dogs trained for people who are blind. There are tens of thousands of others….
At CanadaHelps, our cause is every cause. It is for all of these causes that we work tirelessly so that every charity has opportunity to increase its impact and so that every cause is the cause that will ultimately be no more.
CanadaHelps has accomplished a tremendous amount over the past 15 years. But, there is so much more we can do. At CanadaHelps, we are motivated by all that we are yet to do, by all that we can and want to do, to help change the world. My sincerest thanks to the CanadaHelps Board, Staff, and all of our supporters. With your help, we will continue to make a difference for Canadian donors and charities.