UPDATE: Are there too many Alberta Non-Profit Organizations Duplicating Services?

NOTE: This was originally posted in early December, 2009. The report has been updated as of February 8th to include some recent information about how much funding the Province provides to non profit organizations. The update appears on page three under the heading of “Who funds the non-profit sector?”

Dear Friends and Colleagues…

Like you I am concerned about what’s coming at the non-profit sector in terms of cuts from funders, in particular from the Alberta Government which is the biggest funder of non profits.

I am also concerned about voices that are quick to identify the number of non-profits or the notion of duplication of services as what I call “easy” rationale for funding cutbacks.

I am not suggesting that the sector shouldn’t work collaboratively to innovate, redefine or reshape itself, but I also believe the formation of non profit organizations is a fundamental aspect of citizenship in action.

As well, we all know that “duplicate” services exist everywhere – in all sectors. Communities need more than one church, one school, one gas station, one grocery store … well, you get the point. Where people do their business and if and how non profits receive funding or donations should be based on criteria related to quality, impact, efficiency, and so forth.

So, I have prepared the attached brief document as my attempt to put forward research-based information about the sector, along with some narrative that is meant to prompt dialog.

Certainly the very nature of such a document is positional, but if there is advocacy within its contents it is of a soft nature. I believe it to be the role of leaders of non profit organizations to advocate for the sector and if what I have put together offers even a small measure of assistance to your efforts and voice, I will be content.


2 thoughts on “UPDATE: Are there too many Alberta Non-Profit Organizations Duplicating Services?

  1. This is a great document with some valuable resources, thanks!

    I think you are right about towns needing more than one church, gas station, grocery store etc. Many non profits begin because they see a need that isn’t being met. Although on the surface, people may initially think the need they are meeting is a duplication, often when you skim the surface you find a different story.

    For example, there are several organizations which provide food to homeless in Edmonton’s inner city. Some might think it is a duplication of services until you start looking deeper. Some organizations provide food with the intention of establishing a relationship with the homeless and thereby creating community. Others may provide bag lunches on sunday when other services are shut down. Still others may provide services from a specific faith-base. They are all feeding Edmonton’s homeless population, but the needs they are meeting may not be identical.

    Just a thought.


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