In support of matching grants for charities

24 April 2020
The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, MP
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
House of Common
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Hussen,
We trust that you and your loved ones are staying well in the midst of this pandemic. Please be assured we are praying for you and for your colleagues, that you might be safe and have wisdom in your work.
We are grateful for the measures your government has already initiated to help Canadians through these difficult times and for your leadership in advocating for the charitable sector.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is a national association of Christian charities in Canada, whose affiliates include denominations, local churches, and organizations involved in myriad pastoral and social services, as well as higher education and international relief and development. Local congregations belonging to our affiliated denominations number over 7000. 
I was pleased to participate in a conference call with you, hosted by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in late March, on the topic of support for the charitable sector. During the discussion, I proposed a matching grant for donations to charities in order to off-set the decline in donations charities have experienced during the Covid-19 crisis. The studies I mentioned and which were forwarded to your office after the call, by Cardus and the CEO of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC), provide evidence of the amplifying effect of donations made to Canadian charities. We have also recommended the idea of a matching grant in a subsequent letter to the Prime Minister.
Charities, which contribute significantly to the wellbeing of Canadian society, are experiencing a significant decline in revenue. This has impacted the ability of charities to provide much needed and valued programs and services.
Imagine Canada projects that three months of social distancing and the economic downturn will cause charities to lose $9.5 billion and layoff more than 117,000 employees. The impact on the charitable and non-profit sector is not just about the number of jobs that are at risk, which is estimated to employ 12.8% of working Canadians, but also on the ripple effect on the communities they serve. 
Matching grants designed to top up the revenue of charities enable governments to supplement the donations made by Canadians in support of charities. This amplifies the work charities are doing, but doesn’t replace donors as the primary source of funds. These grants encourage charities to reach out to Canadians who have the means to give and they encourage donors to contribute, knowing their contribution will have an increased impact. Matching grants have been shown to have the effect of increasing donations from supporters. As well, the government has experience in offering this kind of grant; matching donations of Canadians to charities for international relief work in response to crisis, for example.
The grant could match revenue donated for the regular operations of a charity and could be capped, for example, at the amount of donations received by the charity in the same month of the previous year. Funds raised for special projects like capital campaigns could be excluded. The purpose would be to assist the charity in maintaining its regular operations and programs.
The wage subsidy is vital in helping many charities retain employees, but it does not address the decrease in revenue necessary to sustain programs; specifically, expenses that are in addition to staffing costs. The matching grant proposal would help charities to maintain staffing and continue to fund their valuable programs. 
Also, as the amount received by a charity in the matching program would be included in their revenue calculations for the wage subsidy program, some charities that would otherwise qualify for the wage subsidy without the matching grant would no longer receive the wage subsidy.
The matching grant and the wage subsidy will assist charities in maintaining their programs and services. Other initiatives such as those recommended by Imagine Canada are important in assisting charities experiencing increased demand for their services because of the pandemic and the increased costs of delivering programs during the pandemic.
We note that more detailed models have been advanced by other organizations, most recently by the CCCC, of which the EFC is a member.
We commend the idea of a matching fund to you and to the government. We appreciate your consideration of this request and of other similar requests being made.
Yours sincerely,
Bruce J. Clemenger
EFC President

[Note: See related letters from April 7, March 27, March 24]
Author: Bruce J. Clemenger