Opinion: Don’t forget non-profits in government recovery plans

In times of need, in times of crisis, when communities are hurt, scared and suffering, it is charities and non-profit organizations that are among the first to stand up, to step forward, to help.

During this global pandemic, the reliability and dedication of charities and non-profit organizations has endured. In the face of all the uncertainty, unanswerable questions, unknown timelines, fear, personal loss and economic devastation, charities and non-profits across Alberta, Canada and globally have stood, served and innovated to face the challenges head-on, to be a part of the response, the recovery and the solution.

Charities and non-profits will continue to work on the front line as well as take a supporting role to provide help to communities across Alberta in countless meaningful ways — from health and well-being, to quality child care, to housing supports, and the list goes on.

While public thanks or accolades are not required, all charities and non-profit organizations need and deserve to be included in the recovery plans of all orders of government, alongside policy-makers and those deciding and directing investment dollars and support efforts.

According to the pulse check survey, From Response to Recovery, released by the Alberta Nonprofit Network (ABNN) in June of this year, the greatest and immediate concerns for charities and non-profits are the ability to fundraise or earn revenue, access to core organizational funding, and access to funding for support programs and services. It is simple: if charities and non-profits do not receive the direct support they need, they will no longer be around to open their doors, hearts and helping hands to those who need it most.

Failure to support charities and non-profit organizations could have profound consequences. The Government of Alberta website states that “the non-profit/voluntary sector touches virtually all aspects of community life in Alberta. The sector consists of … organizations … such as, health and wellness groups, housing, social services, newcomer settlement, senior services.”

In 2019, the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) released a paper titled, Reflections on Civil Society: The State of the Alberta Nonprofit Sector. In the report it states that over 450,000 Albertans are employed in the non-profit sector and over $10 billion is contributed to Alberta’s GDP annually. While these numbers are impressive, they don’t even begin to calculate the cost savings that all levels of government realize each year because of the contributions of charities and non-profit organizations — work that prevents future costs, investment, and drain on government systems in areas such as health care, social services and education.

At all times, but especially in times like these, we look to all orders of government to invest in and help those who need it most. The impact of investments can be multiplied if done in partnership with charities and non-profit organizations.

Collectively, YMCAs across Alberta provide 250,000 Albertans with access to programs and services that focus on everything from child care, to family supports, to youth employment opportunities and beyond. Over $7 million in financial assistance is also provided annually to individuals and families to ensure no one is turned away from getting the support they need due to their economic circumstance.

By investing in organizations like the YMCA, governments invest in Albertans, supporting the most vulnerable and creating communities where everyone can connect again and thrive again.

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