Stretched to the Limit: An Economic Impact Survey


Stretched to the Limit: An Economic Impact Survey
With little relief in sight, nonprofits and charities are bracing for the worst

CALGARY, AB – November 30, 2009 Results of an economic impact survey conducted by the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) in October indicate Alberta’s nonprofit organizations and charities have been adapting to the recession, but they are stretched to the limit with little capacity to adjust to increased demand or reduced funding.

Despite predictions that economic conditions will improve in 2010, the real financial impact of the recession is expected to hit the voluntary sector next year. Although organizations reported reductions in 2009, the major impact of government cuts and decreased revenues is expected to hit in 2010.

Many organizations reported reducing costs and said they were operating as lean as possible, trying to preserve programs and services. More than 30 per cent of those surveyed, however, had to make cuts in services. If economic predictions are correct and 2010 presents the greatest challenges nonprofits and charities have faced in this recession, even more programs and services will be on the chopping block.

“Alberta’s nonprofits and charities play a role in everyone’s daily lives, from local soccer leagues to services for seniors and low-income families,” says CCVO President and CEO Katherine van Kooy. “The financial vulnerability of the voluntary sector affects not only those Albertans on the margins, but also the health and vibrancy of all Alberta communities and citizens.”

Key Findings:

  • The real force of the economic recession will hit the voluntary sector in 2010. Charities and nonprofits will be grappling with deepening challenges at the same time as other parts of the economy are recovering.
  • Alberta’s voluntary sector is experiencing continued erosion from all revenue streams.
  • More than 60 per cent of organizations reported increased service demand and operating costs.
  • Nonprofits and charities are resilient and resourceful, but further funding reductions will result in reduced programs and services for families and communities.

Recommendations: In light of these findings, and based on years of research and observation of the voluntary sector, CCVO urges governments to recognize the negative impact of further funding reductions on the sector. The organization also urges individual donors to recognize the importance of their gifts, and corporations to continue their support of the communities in which they operate. Lastly, CCVO urges all funders to review their funding practices to provide maximum flexibility and stability to voluntary organizations.

About the Survey: CCVO has been monitoring the economic impact on the voluntary sector through a series of surveys since November 2008. The surveys asked nonprofits and charities about their revenues, operating costs, demand for services and programs, as well as changes in operations as a result of the economic downturn.

Of the 472 respondents, 41 per cent were from Calgary, 41 per cent from Edmonton, and 18 per cent from smaller centres and rural areas. Registered charities accounted for 75 per cent of all respondents.

A copy of the complete report, Stretched to the Limit, is available on the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations website at

About CCVO

The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) is a member–based, federally registered charitable organization, working to strengthen Calgary’s voluntary sector and provide leadership on cross–cutting policy issues affecting the sector as a whole.

For more information about the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary rganizations,  Vsit

Media Spokesperson for CCVO:
Katherine van Kooy, President and CEO
Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations

To arrange an interview with Katherine van Kooy or to connect with a CCVO member organization that participated in the survey, please contact:

Karen Taylor-Binnie, Communications Advisor
Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations
Phone: (403) 261–6655 ext 222


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