November 15 – National Philanthropy Day (NPD) – is the day for celebrating the positive impact of philanthropy all across the globe. For Canadians, the date holds a special significance.
“In 2014, we were the first country to permanently recognize National Philanthropy Day,” says Karen Mercier, chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Canadian Council. “This speaks to the spirit of Canadians and how important the charitable sector is within the fabric of our society.”
Every day, people support the philanthropic efforts of the 80,000 or 90,000 registered charities in Canada by contributing their money and time for the good of their communities. Their generosity and dedication help to advance a variety of causes, such as enabling the work of shelters, social service organizations and food banks, supporting educational, health and research institutions, and amplifying the voices of the arts community, human rights and environmental groups.
The combined philanthropic effort of Canadians is tremendous, says Roger Ali, chair-elect of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy-Canada, vice-president of development, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation and vice-president of Integrated Planned Giving, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation.
“AFP is the main sponsor of NPD. We have 23 chapters in Canada and over 244 chapters worldwide, and we all celebrate our donors, volunteers and community groups,” he explains. “It’s important to note that everyone can be a philanthropist. We see considerable investments of money, time and expertise from Canadians, who make contributions at the level that is possible for them. The impact is remarkable – it has the power to transform community.”
For Ms. Mercier, the day is a chance to reflect on philanthropy as a catalyst for positive change.
“It’s very fulfilling to see the many people and animals being helped and situations improved because of people’s generosity,” says the director of development of the Regina Humane Society.
She shares the desire to personally experience the effects of charitable work with many volunteers, says Ms. Mercier. “At the Regina Humane Society, we have the support of over 1,000 volunteers. We couldn’t provide that level of care for our animals without them.”
Ms. Mercier believes that more and more people want to deepen the involvement with the non-profit organizations they support. “They want to see and feel that their gift is making a difference,” she says.
Mr. Ali has also noticed that “Canadians are rethinking the relationship they want to have with charities.
“Both donors and volunteers are looking for more accountability and transparency. There is an increased desire to understand exactly where their gift is going and what impact it is going to have,” he explains. “This forces us to look at the bigger picture – to think about what the profile of that new Canadian donor and volunteer looks like.”
He sees it as a positive sign that people are looking to be engaged in a more meaningful way. “Donors and volunteers have a greater sense of community and that connection is important,” says Mr. Ali.
Ms. Mercier agrees that giving builds community. “Volunteering, for example, provides an outlet for socializing. We also see a number of volunteers who face challenges and are differently abled – they come here and have a chance to be successful. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
And the success stories create ripple effects, says Ms. Mercier, who points to media, social media and crowd-funding campaigns as measures for building awareness. While traditional fundraising often involves the people charities are closely linked to – people in their communities or regions – social media and crowd-funding can break down barriers, according to Ms. Mercier. “We’ve reached donors from Europe and the U.S. who have been compelled by our stories,” she adds. “This speaks to the importance of stories and the power of one.”
National Philanthropy Day (NPD) is being celebrated in many communities across North America, including every major metropolitan area in Canada. As the main sponsor of NPD, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) takes this opportunity to acknowledge the generosity and dedication of the many Canadians who have made a contribution.
Check out the NPD website – www.npdlove.com – or connect with your local AFP chapter
(www.afpnet.org) to learn how you can join in.
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