Alberta’s Nonprofits Anticipate a Demanding Year Ahead

Written by Kianna Turner

Amidst the backdrop of rising societal tensions, the impacts of climate change, and an unprecedented demand for charitable services, Alberta’s nonprofit sector stands firm, ready to face what has been dubbed a challenging year ahead. 

CCVO, a charitable organization established in 2004, is an advocate for Alberta non-profits. In their mission, they state that “CCVO promotes and strengthens the nonprofit sector by developing and sharing resources and knowledge, building connections, leading collaborative work, and giving voice to critical issues affecting the sector.” 

In February 2024, leaders from an array of nonprofit organizations came together in Calgary to delve into the findings of the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) annual State of the Sector Survey. 

This survey provides insight into a broad spectrum of non-profit services, including:

  • Food security, 
  • Mental health support, 
  • Childcare, 
  • Seniors care, 
  • Housing solutions, 
  • Immigration services, 
  • Recreational activities, 
  • Environmental conservation, 
  • And the arts. 

The State of the Sector Survey included nearly 1,500 nonprofit organizations across the province to reveal the sector’s current challenges and victories, ultimately painting a picture of a community at a crossroads yet unwavering in its commitment to the well-being of Albertans.

Karen Ball, President & CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, shared, “We had a record-breaking response to our 2023 survey and gained valuable insights about what is impacting nonprofit leaders and employees, from climate change to safety concerns. While there are certainly challenges ahead, we recognize that nonprofits have been proactive in working collaboratively and sustainably for the benefit of all Albertans. The nonprofit sector is vital. We contribute $5.5 billion to Alberta’s economy annually, employ nearly 300,000 Albertans, and touch the lives of every single Albertan.”

It’s clear from Ball’s statement that while the sector is navigating a sea of challenges, there’s also a strong undercurrent of proactive and collaborative efforts aimed at sustaining the crucial services nonprofits provide.

The survey highlighted several concerning trends, including the impact of rising hate and anger on the sector, with over a third (⅓) of respondents noting a significant effect on their operations. This societal shift poses a threat not just to the safety and well-being of volunteers and staff but potentially dampens the spirit of volunteerism that fuels many of these organizations. Moreover, the spectre of climate change looms large, with 74% of respondents reporting operational disruptions in 2023, including the cancellation of programming and fundraising events due to adverse environmental conditions; more specifically, the smoke-filled sky across Alberta during the warm season. 

Perhaps most alarming is the revelation that a staggering 30% of Albertans anticipate needing to access charitable services to meet their basic needs in the coming six months. This figure, the highest recorded, signifies a growing reliance on the nonprofit sector amid economic and social turbulence.

Despite these daunting challenges, the sector remains steadfast in its mission. “It’s important that we acknowledge times are tough for our sector, and although revenues are beginning to stabilize, we are facing the hard realities of skyrocketing expenses impacting our operations and increasing demand for our services,” Ball remarked, “We continue to work together to provide essential supports for Albertans and to collaborate with governments and stakeholders on needed reforms to support more of what we already know works.”

The nonprofit sector in Alberta stands as a testament to the power of community, compassion, and collective action. As the province looks ahead to the challenges and opportunities of 2024, the dedication and resilience of these organizations will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping a hopeful and inclusive future for all Albertans.

To learn more about CCVO, visit  www.CalgaryCVO.org.                                     

To find the full State of the Sector report, visit www.calgarycvo.org/facing-the-storm 

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