In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government recognized the immense challenges faced by the non-profit sector. The establishment of the $400 million Community Services Recovery Fund (CSRF) in 2021 marked a significant milestone in bolstering the resilience of charities and non-profits across Canada as they strive to address the long-term impacts of the pandemic.

The fund’s primary objective was to empower charities and non-profits to adapt and modernize their organizations, enabling them to support Canadian communities in their recovery journey. By recognizing the critical role played by these organizations in addressing societal challenges, the fund aimed to provide the necessary resources and support to ensure their sustainability and success.

In collaboration with United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and Community Foundations of Canada, United Way of Calgary and Area played a pivotal role in distributing the Community Services Recovery Fund throughout the Calgary area. This collaborative effort ensured that funding reached a wide range of groups, including non-profit organizations, Indigenous governing bodies, and registered charities. By leveraging our extensive networks and expertise, United Way sought to allocate the funds to organizations that needed them most.

“United Way of Calgary and Area is proud to have taken part in the distribution of this Fund. We were able to give almost $5.3M to 68 organizations who wanted to address service innovation and re-design to improve programs and initiatives,” says Susan Brooke, Vice President, Community Impact and Partnerships. “This funding will make a significant difference across the non-profit sector.”

This investment catalyzes organizations to adapt to evolving needs and challenges, ensuring their effectiveness in addressing social issues. Locally, a significant portion of the CSRF funding was distributed to support innovation within the non-profit sector via three focus areas:

Investing in People 
Funds for one-time projects focused on how organizations recruit, train, retain and support all people working within their teams.

Investing in Systems and Processes 
Funds for one-time projects that invest in systems and processes that can improve the internal workings of an organization’s structure.

Investing in Program and Service Innovation and Re-design
Funds for one-time projects focused on innovating and re-designing existing programs and services.

The third and final focus area was where United Way was most active in funding distribution via our extensive partnerships, enabling organizations to adapt their operations and embrace digital transformation. These investments aim to strengthen organizational capacity, enhance internal processes, and contribute to the overall success of non-profit organizations in serving their communities.

Our dedication to the strategic distribution of the CSRF funds is allowing numerous non-profit organizations to revitalize their programs, identify gaps in service provision, and develop new initiatives that respond to emerging community needs.

The Community Services Recovery Fund serves as a testament to the vital role played by the non-profit sector in building resilient communities. Through collaborative efforts, United Way of Calgary and Area has acted as a catalyst for positive change, ensuring the funds are efficiently and effectively used to maximize their impact. As we continue to navigate the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a collaborative approach remains crucial in fostering the adaptation, innovation, and sustainability of the non-profit sector, ultimately strengthening communities locally and across Canada.