Welcome to Cause Funds by CanadaHelps

September 21, 2020

This week, we officially launched Cause Funds by CanadaHelps, the newest innovative step we’ve taken to harness the power of technology, give Canadians more ways to easily give with confidence, and to respond proactively to changing preferences in giving, especially with younger people, in a way that meets their lifestyle, expectations, and interests.

Technology is playing a major role in the giving of tomorrow, and eventually in our lifetime, all giving will move online. In recent years, many of us in the charitable sector have watched the astronomical growth of crowdfunding platforms where there is far less accountability and oversight around when the money is delivered, and how the money is spent. The immediacy, appearance of impact, and ease-of-giving offered by crowdfunding and social media platforms is a threat to the donation revenue charities need to carry out their critical work. It also shifts the focus to the most compelling individual stories, rather than broader support and change. As a sector, we have been talking about how to address this challenge and opportunity for years.

Based on research and trends we are seeing, and we think it is important to experiment with some new ways of giving. Our hypothesis is that offering this new way to give will engage a new group of Canadians, and infuse new donations into the charitable sector. As is often said, a rising tide lifts all boats, and when more Canadians give, the entire sector benefits. We also believe these Cause Funds will address a few things, including:

  • The desire of many people, especially younger generations, to support Causes, like the environment or animals, and the clear, technology-driven trends of donors’ preference for direct engagement, ease of use, immediacy, and broad impact.
  • Evening out the distribution of giving, enabling more donations to go to smaller charities. 91% of charities in Canada are small, with fewer than 10 staff, but they only receive 57% of the donations made in this country and 4% of government funding. Donations to the Fund are distributed equally, once a quarter, to all the charities included within it.
  • The challenge for some donors of researching charities and gaining clear information in order to decide which ones to support. With 86,000 charities in Canada, choosing the one(s) to support can be an overwhelming decision. For these people that may be deterred from giving, we thought, “how can we make this easier?” In the long-term, they may start engaging with individual charities once giving to charities is part of their lives.
  • Based on similar style platforms in other places in the world, we see a lot of potential for our Funds. Early results have also shown that Cause Funds are a powerful way to enable giving in a crisis — our early COVID-19 Cause Funds for Health Care and Community Care raised nearly $5 million, and our Black Solidarity Fund has raised nearly $2 million from donors and our match partner, P&G. Not every Fund will see these levels of donations, but we’ve launched a range of Funds to give donors with a wide variety of interest a new way to give. Our current Funds are part of a larger vision that we plan to roll out over the next few years. We’ve also partnered with others in the sector to launch one Cause Fund already, and have more in development. We will continue to experiment and learn throughout this process to see what is most successful.

    The charitable sector is facing challenges from multiple fronts – donations are flat lining, the sector is supported by a shrinking pool of older donors, technology is quickly transforming donor and organizational behaviours, and the devastating impacts from COVID-19 will be long-lasting. In order to learn and discover what will work in the future, we must step out of our comfort zones a lot and be willing to disrupt ourselves before others do it for us.

    If you have ideas for iterating on our Funds, or are interested in partnering with us on a Curated Cause Fund, please be in touch.

    You can see all the current Cause Funds by CanadaHelps at www.canadahelps.org/en/cause-funds/

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