May 8, 2011
By Ingrid Zacharias
Recently, we had a major change here in Canada on our political front. For the first time since Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister, we have a Conservative majority government. It amazed me during the campaign how much fear mongering that went on by all the political parties. The same fear that is present in individuals during political elections are the same kinds of fears that non-profits experience.
Why would non-profits be fearful of a change in government? Well there are a variety of reasons:
- Changes in government policy – Government policy creates the environment in which non-profits function. Policy changes can create drastic changes in how non-profits function. That can be very intimidating for non-profits with little cushion in their budgets to make changes mandated by government policy.
- Alterations in funding formulas – Who the government is that is in power can have a huge impact on how funding is distributed and who receives funding. The ramifications of this can be devasting to some non-profits.
- Deviations in the social environment in communities – The policies developed by governments can have a positive or negative impact on the socio-economic environments in the communities that non-profits serve.
- Needing to build new relationships – When our elected officials get voted out of office, for non-profits, it creates the need to build new relationships with whoever the new elected officials are. This can take time, energy and sometimes new representatives are not as open to the social change that non-profits are endeavouring to create.
Question of the Day: What kind of an impact has changes in government had on your non-profit?
April 4, 2011
By Ingrid Zacharias
Non-profits travel through several stages as they grow. Most non-profits, at some point endeavour to get Federal funding.
While Federal funding often means significant growth in an organization’s funding, it also results in many woes and pitfalls. They are:
- Detailed funding proposals – The funding proposals created usually need to be very detailed covering every activity and financial expenditure that the organization plans to do.
- Very specific budgets – The non-profit’s budgets for such funding must foresee every possible occurrence during the funding year and include resources in the budget for it.
- Some Federal Project Officers micromanage – Some of the project officers that you will encounter when you acquire Federal funding can be micromanagers and can actually abuse their position of power by making the organization jump through hoops and change the direction of the project according to their personal opinions, not necessarily an interpretation of government policy.
- Monthly Reporting – To the best of my knowledge the Federal government is the only funder who demands monthly anecdotal and financial reports. These reports are time consuming and tedious. They are also the only ones who will disallow something that is a miniscule amount of money because they feel it doesn’t fall into their designated mandate.
- Funding Decisions are slow to be made – Funding decisions take a lot of time to process. Often the Federal government requires you have your funding request in 6 months in advance of the funding start. This is not so bad if it is your first time funding, but it is problematic when the non-profit has to provide a yearly report when they are only half way through their funding year.
- Significant turn over in project officers – The Canadian government has tried to put in place stop checks to ensure that public’s funds are not being abused. For this reason, the person who reviews your funding proposal is not the same person who monitors the project during the funding year. This often makes relationship building with project officers difficult, as it is possible to have a different project officer for each funding year.
- Changing the rules midway – Government is notorious for changing the funding rules while the funding is still active. As the government makes changes to their policies, it directly impacts non-profits funded by them, because it is possible for rules to change during the funding year and this can have a negative impact on the non-profits project overall.
Question of the Day: What pitfalls have you experienced when your non-profit acquired funding from your Federal government?