Strengthening the Charitable Sector

The Muttart Foundation believes that Canada is best served through a strong, independent and interconnected voluntary sector. It also believes that foundations and other funders can help ensure the sector maintains and gains strength. For almost two decades, the Foundation has provided capacity-building funding to both individual charities and to charitable-sector infrastructure organizations – those charities that serve other charities.

The support has been available in a number of areas, ranging from technology through the support of discussions of mergers and alliances. Funding has also included start-up and core operating costs. Currently, the Foundation’s funding is aimed at moving forward two strategies:

  • To create, promote and/or support the organizational, legal and regulatory vehicles that allow the charitable sector to be full players in the development of public policy related to the sector and those it serves.
  • To encourage the development of leadership at the sectoral level.

Under the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking, a concentration in the Strengthening the Charitable Sector program is in the form of core funding grants to selected organizations. These grants are meant to enhance the capacity of organizations to serve other charities. The Foundation also pays careful attention to its ability to act as a convenor. Where it believes it can be helpful, the Foundation will bring together groups of people – from charities and other parts of society – to discuss common issues and seek innovative solutions.

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If Canada’s voluntary sector is to be a full player in public policy, then it requires co-ordination, information and assistance. To help ensure that goal is achieved, the Foundation provides a core funding grant to Imagine Canada. The Foundation also works with and through Imagine Canada on various policy initiatives, usually at the federal level.

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Just as the voluntary sector requires leadership organizations at the national level, so too does it require co-ordination and support at the regional level. The Muttart Foundation was a major player behind the discussion leading to the creation of regional umbrellas such as the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations and the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations.

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The Muttart Consultation process is an example of the Foundation’s view that it can make contributions through convening people. Since 1997, the Foundation has hosted periodic discussions to allow the sector and government to discuss regulatory issues. Topics have ranged from advocacy and business activities to the role of ethnocultural organizations and think tanks. In many cases, the topics under consideration do not relate to the Foundation’s funding interests. Rather, the Foundation’s contribution is bringing together a group of people to solve a common problem.

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