Even before the pandemic and then the inflation crisis, Canada’s non-profit, charitable sector had been changing, with more Canadians needing charitable services and fewer people giving. There have been learnings, rewards and challenges associated with these changes. The following learnings reflect United Way of Calgary and Area’s responsiveness and resourcefulness in the face of an evolving sector:
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Trust-Based Philanthropy addresses the inherent power imbalances between funders, non-profits, and the communities they serve, and lays the foundation for a healthier and more equitable non-profit ecosystem.
In line with trust-based philanthropy, envelope funding is an approach to funding which affords organizations more flexibility (within agreed-upon parameters) to respond to the needs of the people they serve, while still fulfilling outcome reporting requirements. This type of funding demonstrates trust in the organizations – that they know best how to maximize the success of their programs and create meaningful impact for those they serve and support. United Way envelope funding can be applied to both organizations and collaboratives and has been in place since 2021.
Grassroots Empowerment Strategy
The new Grassroots Empowerment Strategy helps advance key principles of trust-based philanthropy and building an authentic relationship and allyship with diverse communities facing barriers to addressing systemic inequities as stated in United Way’s Community Impact Framework and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy. A key enabler in implementation of this strategy is having the policy, processes, and templates in place for United Way to provide grants to non-profits directly. Based on this desired direction, these changes were implemented in 2023.
Innovation is valuable in many environments, including the social sector, where it is vital to the creation of novel, non-conforming and non-traditional solutions to social problems. With its foundation of collaboration and partnership, innovation in the social sector focuses on solutions that are effective, sustainable, fair, and equitable.
Supporting agencies in their development of innovation practices and opportunities is important to United Way, and we do so in a variety of ways, including adding an Innovation Rider – a one-time grant to support innovation of existing work funded through the United Way envelope – into the current funding cycle.