We have just received word that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance has set noon January 17, 2012 as the deadline for interested parties to file a brief about concerns on the Federal Government review of charitable funding. The Canadian Council of Christian Charities is planning to be there to represent your interests.
It is imperative that we hear from you now BEFORE you go on your Christmas holidays. Otherwise we will be pinched for time when we come back.
What is the Committee studying?
There is a fear that donations to charities are declining – especially in the recent financial stress the economy is facing. Mr. Peter Braid, MP for Kitchener-Waterloo, has called upon the Committee on Finance to conduct a study on how tax incentives can be reworked to increase charitable giving. The Committee has decided to take 12 sessions to hear from the public on Mr. Braid’s concerns. This is an extraordinary amount of political time devoted to this issue! This is no small matter.
The Committee will be going BEYOND the charitable funding issue to discuss how government might provide a framework for charities to not only benefit from tax policy changes, but to be involved in entrepreneurial projects based on a business model. The term for this activity is “social enterprise.” Some opinion makers are calling for changes in the law to permit charities to be involved in businesses that will address a social need.
Under the current legal structure such projects may be out of the question for many charities because they are not in keeping with their organization’s charitable objects and/or may be outside of what is determined legally charitable in Canada. For example, Charities would not be able to operate an “unrelated” business under the Income Tax Act.
“Necessity is the mother of invention.” That is especially so in our current financial struggle. The less Canadians support charities, the less charities are able to do, and the greater the demand on government to fill in the gap. Combine that reality with the fact that governments are also strapped with less tax revenue from an underperforming economy and you have a recipe for real trouble. It is a vicious spiral that demands creativity to meet more need with less.
Now is a good time for our members to begin thinking about seeking a role in social enterprise and becoming part of the public discussions. There once was a time when churches and faith organizations were heavily involved in providing social services. While no one can say that churches will ever regain the prominent role they once had in our social service network, it now appears that the faith community may yet have an important part to play in seeing that our society has what it needs to be successful in lifting people out of poverty and into more fruitful and prosperous lives.
Christian ministries have to consider what, if any, restrictions government might require of the Christian community to leave its identity in the church parking lot, as it were, in order to receive public funding or participate in social enterprise. How will the Christian ministry respond to such demands?
It is quite possible that the Christian community will be called upon to yet again become more involved in practicing the principles of the Good Samaritan. The need is great. We await anxiously to see how the public discussions will proceed – it is an opportunity for involvement in a matter that will have a lasting impact.
Please feel email me today at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 17, 2012 does not give us a lot of time – please respond today! Here are questions to help you:
- How can government encourage more charitable giving?
- What opportunities do you see in social enterprise projects for your charity?
- How might the government change the legislation and regulations to assist Christian charities to become involved in social enterprise?
- What are your fears as you hear of government reviewing charitable giving incentives?
- What else would you like to say?
 Hansard, Commons Debates, November 19, 2010, p. 6201.